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Great care should be taken when approaching your employer with your letter of resignation. Regardless of how poor your experience may have been while working for a particular company, all resignations should be handled in a professional manner.

While you may be looking forward to starting your new job, you will also need to say goodbye to colleagues whom you may have developed close relationships with. Whatever your resignation story may be and however interesting it may sound, aim to resign with dignity and pride and never burn your bridges.

There is usually a compelling reason to look for a new job and to want to quit your current job and most of the time it’s because your current working environment no longer fits your employment needs. While this may sound like the “amicable” way to describe your resignation letter, it will be to your advantage to approach each resignation document with such a neutral stance. Never use your termination letter as an opportunity to voice your gripes with your company or to “tell your employer off”. If you have reached the resignation phase you should be steadfast in your decision and airing dirty laundry about your company in your letter to terminate your employment will only lead to animosity and resentment. When handing in your letter of resignation, do so with respect for your employer as well as yourself.

Read further for steps to writing a resignation letter and be sure to leave your old job with a positive impression.

STEP ONE: Resignation Letter Stationery.

While the stationery you present your letter of resignation on may be the very last thing on your mind, this is exactly the reason why this step is listed as being of first and foremost importance when resigning. Present your resignation letter on clean un-used white paper. Don’t try to sugarcoat the fact that you are quitting your job by writing your termination letter on feminine paper or anything other than the norm. Regular A4 (A four) paper should suffice, accompanied by the company’s logo. If you have one available to use, the company letterhead is perfect on which to write your resignation letter.

Take pride in yourself and your business ethics by preparing your letter of resignation on stationery that reflects your professionalism and attention.

STEP TWO: The Resignation Letter Layout.

If you are anything like me, the last time you took note of how to write a formal resignation letter, was years ago, so here is a simple clean layout that you can use to guide you when preparing your letter of termination of employment. On the top left-hand side (just beneath the company logo if you are using a letterhead) of your letter of resignation, starting on a new line per detail, list the name of your line manager or supervisor whom you will be resigning with, followed by their title or designation, the name of the company and finally the date. Once you have stated these details, skip two lines and begin your resignation letter by addressing the person whom you intend on resigning with.

STEP THREE: Resignation Letter Content and Tone.

Your last impression is as important as your first. To elaborate on this, it is safe to say that although you may be desperate to give your boss a piece of your mind when resigning, don’t. Never burn your bridges when resigning and remember that the boss you resign from today may be a client you are trying to sign tomorrow. There may come a time where your path may cross an ex-employer and considering how small the world is these days the likelihood of this happening is high. Address your resignation letter with a positive attitude and tone. You have already decided to better your current situation and writing your resignation letter with an aggressive tone and an attitude of complacency will only make a sensitive situation worse. It is your job to illustrate your willingness to make the resignation process and notice period run as smoothly as possible.

Use your resignation letter to display humility as well as your best business etiquette. With a positive attitude, detail that it is your intention to provide written notice to terminate your employment. After confirming the details of your notice period in your employment contract, including the start date and end date of the notice period you will be working. Job Seekers who may feel uncomfortable discussing the details of their new employment, need not mention such information as this is not a requirement of resigning from your job.

STEP FOUR: Your Resignation Notice Period.

Although detailing your notice period makes up the content of your resignation letter I have listed this as a separate step to exaggerate the importance of this facet to resigning. Before preparing your resignation letter it is vitally important that you refer back to your employment contract to be clear on the resignation terms and conditions that you have agreed to. Depending on how long you have been employed at a company your notice period may vary from company to company but this will be clearly defined in your employment contract.

In most companies, a notice period is either four working weeks or a full calendar month in which employees have to work in their notice. Based on these details, it is of the utmost importance that you clearly state the date from which your notice period will begin. You will also have to define the date at which your notice period will conclude and the termination of your employment will be effective. As these are company-specific terms and conditions please confirm your notice obligations prior to resigning and make sure you have been clear with your intentions in your resignation letter.

STEP FIVE: Thank Your Company.

While you may be fed up with your company today, there was a time during your employment that you were happy. Even if this is not the case, by having been employed by the company you now wish to resign from, it will be to your advantage to express your thanks and gratitude in your notice letter. This is where some may have to dig deep and keep their comments amicable and polite but try to remember the age-old saying; “If you have nothing nice to say…lie!”

Any resignation it a difficult task to endure and the formality of a resignation letter is something we all have to do it at some stage in our career. The easier you make this on yourself the better this process will be for you as well as your employer. Remember that each working experience that you have is a valuable reference. In order to secure a positive reference, you need to ensure that you are compliant with company policy and procedures when resigning as well as display compassion and understanding to your employer in your letter to terminate your employment.

Nothing in business is personal and it is up to you to be the bigger person and display your maturity as well as your business acumen. If that fails, Oscar Wilde once said: “Always forgive your enemies…nothing annoys them more.”

By: Camilla Patten