Careers advice

How to write a resignation letter (with example)

Writing a resignation letter is considered best practice when leaving a job in New Zealand.

What you’ll learn

  • Do you need to write a resignation letter?
  • How to write a NZ style resignation letter
  • What not to put on a resignation letter
  • A sample resignation letter you can use yourself
  • What to do after handing in a resignation letter

Resigning from a job usually comes with a mixture of emotions. excitement at what lies ahead, sadness about leaving behind colleagues and often a degree of anxiety about breaking the news to your manager.

In particular, we worry about how to write a professional resignation letter. What tone should I use, what do I need to include, when should I submit it?

Today, we’re going to put these fears to bed. Read on to learn best practices for crafting your resignation letter, and take advantage of our basic template that you can adapt and use yourselves. 

Should I write a resignation letter?

Yes, but this isn’t how you should break the news to your boss.

Once you’re sure that you’ve decided to leave (and really do be 100% on this), arrange a face-to-face meeting with your direct manager, and tell them what’s happening. This is a much more personal way of giving them the news, and only after you’ve resigned verbally should you formalise things in writing.

So, why should you write a resignation letter?

There are three main reasons why you should write a resignation letter:

1. To create a record

As we'll show you below, a resignation letter should include important information, including when your last day of work will be. This means that, when this day rolls around, there will be no confusion or discrepancy because one person got the wrong end of the stick. This will also serve to demonstrate that you’ve completed the notice period stated in your employment contract.

2. To provide info

As well as preventing confusion, a resignation letter will give your employer the info they need to start the recruitment process to find your replacement. This will include your job title, and your projected final day in the office.

3. Because it’s polite

Sometimes, it’s just important to do things because they’re expected of you. It’s common courtesy in New Zealand to write a resignation letter when you resign, and it will be considered poor form if you don’t. Given the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with your manager and the organisation as a whole, you need to tick this box.

A resignation letter is an important part of leaving a job.

How to write a resignation letter, NZ style

The best resignation letters include:

  • A clear statement of what’s happening – e.g. the fact you’re leaving the company.
  • Your job title
  • The date of your final day – this will probably be dictated by the notice period in your employment agreement. In NZ, you’re generally required to give several weeks’ notice. We advise giving as much notice as you can, your company will thank you for this!
  • A brief description of why you’re leaving – you don’t have to give this info, but people will probably ask anyway!
  • Thanks and well wishes – let your manager know you’re grateful to them for your time with the company, and wish them well for the future.
  • An offer to help – reassure your manager you won’t leave them with a bunch of loose ends. Earn some extra brownie points by offering to help with the recruitment process for your transition.
  • Your contact details – staying in touch with former managers and colleagues is useful from a networking perspective (and for references!).

Two extra tips...

  • Keep it concise: in particular, there’s no need to be apologetic for leaving. Staff come and go, that’s part of running a business or department.
  • Be positive: even if you had real issues with your former employer,it’s a bad move to let this all out in your resignation letter. Go out on a high on good terms!

Keep your resignation letter positive.

Resignation letter sample

Feel free to use this simple resignation letter template when creating your own:

[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. 

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

What not to include in a resignation letter

We hope the above resignation letter example is a useful tool that you can use yourselves when it comes to handing in your notice. However, as well as giving you some pointers about what you should include, we also wanted to make it clear what should be avoided when writing a resignation letter. In our humble opinion, it’s best to avoid any of the following:

1. Any negative sentiments

Your resignation letter should absolutely NOT be the time to vent any frustrations or disappointment you might be feeling about your time with the company. This includes slagging off the organisation itself, any of your colleagues, or your manager themselves.

Even if you’re leaving specifically because you’re finding it hard to get on with the people around you, or because you don’t like the direction the company culture is taking, it’s best to keep this to yourself. The one exception is when you’ve been a victim of workplace bullying, as this should be raised to stop it happening again. However, even in this instance, you’d ideally organise a meeting with your manager or a member of HR staff, rather than including this in your resignation letter.

2. A long or apologetic explanation of why you’re leaving

The absolute maximum length a resignation letter should be is one page. However, even then, we’d be wondering what you’re including to need this many words. Generally speaking, half a page (around 200 words) should be enough to get across the key messages.

Some people almost feel as if they need to ask permission to leave, by providing a personal business case for why the new opportunity is the right one for them to take. You don’t need to do this. You have absolutely nothing to apologise for when you resign, it’s your career to take any direction you want. Of course, as we’ve done in our resignation letter template above, it’s totally okay to express that you’ll miss working for the company, but this doesn’t need to turn into an apology for going.

Equally, you shouldn’t go into details about why the new role you’re heading to is so much better than your current one. For example, you don’t need to describe any salary increase or improved benefits package you’ll be receiving once you jump ship. This could be interpreted as a negative comment on the package you had in your current role.

3. Overly emotional sentiments

Whether you’re feeling super elated about never having to work for these people again, or if you’re finding it hard to hold back the tears because you’ll miss not being able to sit alongside your favourite colleagues everyday, your resignation letter isn’t the place to get gushy.

Keep things clear, concise and professional, and save the waterworks for your leaving do.

4. Spelling and grammar mistakes

It’s important that, even with your notice handed in, you keep working hard and maintain your professional standards until your last day. Your resignation letter is part of this. If you submit your notice and it’s riddled with errors, this shows that you’ve mentally checked out, and that you no longer care about how you come across.

Given that you may well be asking this same hiring manager for a reference later in your career, it’s important that you maintain your reputation as a diligent and thorough employee.

What to do after submitting your resignation letter

  • Keep working: remember, your notice period isn’t a formality - you’re expected to keep working up to, and including, your last day in the office. After all, the organisation is still paying you. However, as well as it being the right thing to do, it’s also in your best interests. You want your manager and former colleagues to remember you as a team player and asset to the business, not that person who switched off as soon as their resignation was confirmed.
  • Ask for a reference: having a reference for your current manager on file is very handy when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. You could ask your boss to provide a written reference that you can produce when you need it, or you could ask if they’re happy for you to contact them in the future by phone or email to provide a reference when you need it.
  • Create a handover guide: this will help your manager, or your replacement, pick up where you left off, to make the transition more seamless. Think about all of the tools and processes you use to do your job, as well as key contacts within the business who will help the new starter hit the ground running. Ideally, this document should be created in conjunction with your manager, so they’re also up to speed and can make contributions.
  • Extract your personal documents: you may well have a company phone or laptop that you need to give back when you leave. Before you do this, it’s a good idea to check whether there are any of your personal documents or images that you want to save before the device is wiped and handed to the next person. Of course, you can’t remove anything that is sensitive to the company, or is its intellectual property, but if you’ve been using the device in your personal as well as professional life, there may be things you want to salvage.
  • Say goodbye: it might be that your manager or a colleague organises a leaving do for you, but if not, make sure that you say goodbye to everyone you’re close to in the organisation. Again, this is the right thing to do, but also leaves a good lasting impression of what you brought to the company and its culture.