Careers advice

How to resign from my job (with resignation letter template)

Sign off in style.

24 April 2023

What you’ll learn:

  • The steps to follow when resigning from your job
  • How to write a job resignation letter (with an example)
  • How to time handing in your notice
  • How long the standard notice period is when resigning in New Zealand

The prospect of resigning from a job can come with a whole host of different emotions, and how you feel will be tied to the reason(s) why you’re leaving. You might be excited because you’ve landed your dream role, frustrated and exiting with a bad taste in your mouth, or even guilty about leaving your job.

However, regardless of how you’re feeling, there are certain boxes you’ll need to tick when resigning from a job. How you resign will have a large impact on the legacy you leave among your former colleagues and the company management. If you get this wrong, it could come back to haunt you – we all know what a small world New Zealand is.

Timing it right: when to resign from a job

1. Be absolutely sure you want to leave

Before writing a resignation letter, or even mentioning your plans to resign to anyone, you need to be sure that this is what you want to do. Perhaps the most important thing to think about here is whether this is a knee-jerk reaction to something ‘going wrong’. Been passed over for a promotion? Feel embarrassed because you made a big mistake in your work? Had a falling out with a coworker? While it can be tempting to throw in the towel because you aren’t happy with the way things are going, you should pause for a second and consider, is this really the best course of action?

If, once you’ve done this self-reflection, you’re still convinced that resigning is the right move, then it’s time to put the wheels in motion.

2. Tell your manager first

We’re going to talk specifically about how to tell your manager that you’re resigning later, but the most important thing from a timing perspective is that they hear it from you before anyone else in the company. It’s a really bad look if it’s common knowledge among your colleagues that you’re leaving, and this information feeds back to your manager through the grapevine. So, even if you can’t wait to go, keep this information to yourself until you’ve had a chance to speak to them.

Your manager needs to be the first person to hear that you're resigning, and they need to hear it from you.

3. Know your notice period

Another crucial thing to think about when timing your resignation is how long your notice period will be. If you’ve already got another role lined up, chances are they’ll want you to start ASAP, so you’ need to hand in your resignation and start the notice period clock ticking. Generally speaking, the more notice you can give your current employer, the better. So, if you know your new job won’t be starting for a couple of months, you may still want to hand in your notice but just arrange to stay for longer than you’re strictly required to.

4. Think about the time of the day

This is more of a personal preference, but you might want to inform your manager of your intention to resign at the end of a working day, rather than at the start. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re feeling uncomfortable about having this conversation, and want to immediately put some distance between yourself and the work environment to let the news sink in.

How to resign: the steps

1. Organise a meeting with your manager

Your manager should be the first person in the business who finds out that you’re intending to resign. However, this shouldn’t be a passing comment as you make your morning coffees.

You need to arrange a 1:1 meeting with your manager, and tell them in this setting. Make every effort to have this meeting in person, rather than on the phone or via Zoom. This is obviously a pivotal moment in your relationship with your manager, and a phone or Zoom call can feel a bit informal. Of course, if you’re in a different location from your manager, it’s perfectly acceptable to use one of these options.

In terms of how to tell your boss that you’re resigning, you need to cover:

  • The reason(s) you’re leaving: while you do not need to justify your decision or seek their approval (it’s 100% your call), it’s customary to give some indication of why you’ve decided to go. If it’s for a bad reason, like you absolutely hate your boss, it’s best not to be too honest – in this case you could say something like you ‘don’t feel the culture is the right fit’.
  • Thank them for the opportunity: if you’ve loved working at the business, say so, and say why! Even if the experience has been mediocre at best, try and find something positive to stay.
  • Discuss when your last day will be: based on your notice period, and any other factors (like when you’re starting your next role), come to a mutual decision as to when your last day will be.
  • Offer to help with the transition: ask your manager if there’s anything they’d like you to do to prepare for your departure. This could be things like creating hand-over documents or helping with the hiring process.
  • Tell them you’ll follow up with a formal resignation letter: below, we’ll talk you through how to write a resignation letter, but in this original meeting, just let them know that you’ll be sending this through.

You'll need to write a resignation letter and give this to your boss.

2. Write a resignation letter

The core elements to include in your resignation letter are:

  • The purpose of your letter – e.g. the fact you’re leaving the company.
  • Your job title
  • The date of your final day
  • A brief description of why you’re leaving
  • Restate your thanks and well wishes
  • Reiterate your offer to help with the transition
  • extra brownie points by offering to help with the recruitment process for your replacement.
  • Provide your contact details and mention you’re keen to stay in touch (this is important for getting references for future jobs).

Resignation letter example

You can adapt the below resignation letter sample to use yourself, or download a template using the button below:

[Your address, phone number and personal email address]

[Date of writing]

[Recipient’s full name]

[Company name]

[Company address]

Dear Kev,

Please accept this letter as notice that I am resigning from my role as Senior Account Manager at {Company Name}. My final day will be {Date}.

I have accepted a Team Leader position at {New Company Name} which is a really exciting opportunity for me, and one I felt I could not decline.

While I’m looking forward to what this will bring, I will genuinely miss working with you and the rest of the team here. The last two years have been incredibly fulfilling, and I greatly appreciate the opportunities you have given me to learn and develop myself. I know that {Business Name} and your department will continue to go from strength to strength.

I am keen to help in any way possible to make this transition as smooth as possible, and am available to help recruit and train my replacement. I will also make certain that all my clients are aware of the change, and complete all of the necessary admin tasks before my departure.

Thank you again for everything, and please feel free to contact me anytime on either {Email address} or {Phone number}.

Yours sincerely,

{Your Name}.

Free Resignation Letter Template
Download our resignation letter template, and adapt it to your needs!
Google Doc Word Doc

3. Tell your co-workers

During the conversation with your manager, you’ll likely also discuss when and how the rest of the team will be informed. It might be the case that your manager wants to inform the rest of the team themselves, but if you arrange that you’re going to do it, ensure you stick to the agreed timing.

Remember, even if you’re leaving because you hate working there, you shouldn’t start bad mouthing the company or celebrating the fact that you’re on the way out. This is a really bad final impression, and remember, your colleagues are staying put.

4. Prepare for an exit interview

An exit interview is a meeting between a departing employee and the organisation they’re leaving (usually the manager and/or someone from the HR department). They represent opportunities for the business to learn more about why people leave, so that they can try to reduce employee turnover in the future.

From your perspective, this is an opportunity both to provide feedback and also to provide some final value to the organisation and help bolster your lasting reputation there.

Common exit interview questions include:

  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • Did you feel you were properly trained, equipped, and supported to effectively do your job?
  • Tell us about the working relationship with your colleagues, management and employer?
  • What were your favourite parts of the role?
  • What could this company do differently to improve the employee experience?
  • Is there anything you would change about this job?
  • Were there company policies or procedures that you disagreed with, or could be improved? If so, how?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

Remember, your exit interview is not an opportunity to vent or bash the company. By all means, provide constructive criticism if you have some ideas on how the business could be improved, but make sure you always keep things professional.

What is the standard notice period in NZ?

There is no legally defined notice period in New Zealand. In fact, the only requirement stipulated by law is that the notice period should be ‘reasonable’ and that it should be provided in writing.

That said, a typical notice period in New Zealand is 2 -4 weeks.

Can you take annual leave during your notice period?

Yes, you can. You’ll need to discuss it with your employer, but, ultimately if you have annual leave days remaining, the business will have to pay them out to you when you go. So, you might find that your manager is very receptive to this idea.


Al Hall
Al Hall

Al Hall is a regular contributor at Trade Me Jobs and Trade Me Property. He’s dedicated to helping people succeed in their aspirations to find their dream job and place to live.