Sending resignation letter from laptop
Credit: C Jill Reed/Flickr under Creative Commons license/Attribution-Share alike

Why You Should Send a Letter of Resignation When Quitting a Job

Writing a letter of resignation is an important step to take once the decision to quit a job has been made. Submitting this letter should generally be considered a part of the separation process when a person leaves his or her job. 

While it may not feel as a priority as you desire to move on, writing a letter is a professional courtesy that will keep you painted in a good light. There are many valuable reasons to give a soon to be former employer with formal notice when you plan to leave a job. Not to mention, many employers appreciate this gesture.

Professional Courtesy

Providing the employer with a letter that outlines why you are leaving, includes an exit plan and expresses a thank you for the experience is good courtesy. This not only effectively tells an employer you plan to leave, it also demonstrates a level of professional courtesy and respect. When writing the notice, always remember to keep the tone of the document positive. Even if the circumstances surrounding your resignation are not ideal, the letter should carry a positive tone.

Maintain a Good Reputation

In many industries, people tend to meet up again in various industry circles, however, those who leave their job on a good note without negativity attached to their name most often find they enjoy a good reputation in the industry with future opportunities. A good resignation letter can help solidify a better reputation.

People who have not taken care of things properly before resigning often are later dismayed to find they have damaged their reputation professionally, and perhaps even become blacklisted in the industry. If this occurs, it could result in difficulty to secure and maintain employment. In addition, in some industries, it is entirely possible to someday have the same boss at another company. You never know...

Leaves Doors Open

Even though you are quitting now, in the future you might change your mind and want to return. By submitting a resignation letter, this shows you care about the company and, in the event you do decide to try to come back to your organization, your leaving on a positive note could leave a possible open door in the future for return employment. (Plus, whatever the reason for your leaving may fix itself someday and there may be an opening.)

Ideally, you don't ever want to shut the door on potential opportunities.  Again, you never know...

Pen and Paper
Credit: Francois on Flickr/Creative Commons licnese


No matter what the circumstances are for leaving the position, it is of value to never burn any proverbial bridges. You never know when you may need a reference when applying for other positions.  Providing a gracious exit helps pave the way for a good future reference.

Also keep in mind, this will be the last document added to your personnel file and it will also be the first impression received if anyone opens your file for review in the future. This is a primary reason you want that first impression to look good, as the person opening the file may be someone who has been asked to provide you with a reference.

Useful for Employer

Not only is submitting a letter of resignation good etiquette, but gives the employer time to plan and also track why employees leave. This information is very valuable to them. If an employee's resignation had to do with some sort of problem in the workplace, the employer can strive to rectify the problems. As an aside, it is important to keep in mind if the resignation did have to do with problems existing in the workplace, it is important to remain tactful and positive in the letter.

Tips to Remember

Other than a few minutes of your time there is no down side to sending your soon to be former employer a letter of resignation. Some tips to remember as you pen your letter:

  • Give your employer a reason for your resignation.
  • Provide your supervisor with an exit plan, don't forget to include a date for your last day.
  • Be courteous with how you word your letter and follow professional business style.
  • Always keep the tone positive - even if you feel negatively towards the job and/or your employer - if it is hard to write, have someone you trust proofread it for you.
  • Keep your emotions out of the letter.  If you harbor anger or frustration and feel you've kept it positive, have someone read it anyway, they may pick up on something you've missed.
  • Thank your employer for the experience.

A formal written communication to outline an exit to a position is considered good professional practice. These are a handful of reasons as to why it is worth the time and effort it takes to construct a good resignation letter. You never know what the future holds.