How To Resign From Your Job

Business woman in meeting

Rob Lewine / Image Source / Getty Images

What's the best way to quit a job? When you resign, it's important to do so as gracefully and professionally as possible. If you can, give adequate notice to your employer, write a formal resignation letter, and be prepared to move on before submitting your resignation.

Skip these steps, and you run the risk of alienating your former colleagues. That could come back to bite you later if you try to return to your old job or land a new position at a company in your industry. You never know when you might need a recommendation or a reference. Leaving the right way means that you’ll have people in your corner should you need them later in your career. 

That said, there are reasons why you might have to skip some of the traditional steps. Knowing what’s expected when you quit a job will help you protect your reputation with your peers. Here’s how to plan your departure.

Key Takeaways

  • If possible, give two weeks’ notice (or the length of notice required by any employment contract or collective bargaining agreement). 
  • It's best to quit in person if you can do so, but you may be able to resign by phone or email. 
  • Always write a resignation letter that includes your last day of work and your thanks for the opportunity. 
  • Know that you may be asked to leave as soon as you resign; pack up your belongings and personal files before you quit.

What To Do Before You Quit

Before you submit your resignation to your boss, make sure you are prepared to leave. Be sure to save any files you want to the cloud or Google Drive, or email copies to yourself.

You may not have access to your computer once you turn in your resignation, so have copies of everything you need before you tell your boss that you're quitting.


Avoid doing anything that might indicate that you're moving on, like taking your photos off your desk or pictures off the wall. Quietly clear out your desk and clean up your computer.

How To Quit Your Job the Right Way

To ensure a smooth transition, follow these guidelines:

Give Two Weeks’ Notice

Providing two weeks' notice is the standard practice when resigning from a job. However, in some cases, you may be required to give more notice. If you have an employment contract or union agreement that states how much notice you should give, abide by it. 

Be Ready To Leave Right Away

Do keep in mind that your employer doesn't have to let you work through the notice period. Your employment could be terminated immediately. In other cases, staying may not be an option. For example, if you’re coping with a hostile work environment, harassment, or bullying, you might decide to leave without notice. 


Most U.S. workers are employed at will. If you are one of them, you can leave your job without notice—as far as the law is concerned. However, your employer is equally free to terminate your employment with or without notice in most cases. 

Write a Resignation Letter

Before you even speak with your boss, write a formal resignation letter. It doesn’t have to be a long message—a few paragraphs will suffice. Be sure to include your last day of work and your thanks for the experience. If you like, you can also offer to help with the transition. 

When you send your letter, send a copy to HR, and keep one for your records. In many cases, you may be able to send your resignation via email, which makes recordkeeping much easier. 

Quit in Person if Possible

Ask for a meeting with your direct supervisor. Try to choose a time when you can both focus on the conversation without distractions or added stress. Share the news of your departure. If possible, express your gratitude for their support.

Can’t Quit in Person? Here’s What To Do Instead

It’s always best to resign in person if you can. However, sometimes you can’t make it happen. Perhaps you’re a full-time remote worker and have never worked in the same space as your boss. Maybe you’ve had a family emergency and need to move quickly. Whatever the reason, it’s still possible to be gracious and professional, even when you can’t have the conversation in person.

How To Quit Over the Phone

When you must quit via phone call, it’s important to be prepared. Know what you will say beforehand and remember to keep it professional and polite. Even if you hate your job, stay as positive as possible. 

If you choose to provide a reason, be brief. There’s no need to get into detail or offer excessive apologies. For example, you might say that you’ve had a family emergency and need to resign right away. 

Do be gracious when you resign. Apologize (briefly) and thank your supervisor for their support. Follow up with your formal letter of resignation and save a copy for your records. 

How To Resign via Email

Resigning via email is increasingly common—however, it’s still best to have a conversation with your manager in person before you click send. If that’s not possible, you may choose to resign by email. As always, be professional and polite. Include the most essential information (your last day of work). You may also offer a brief explanation of why you’re quitting and offer to help with the transition if you wish. 

How To Write a Resignation Letter

How you write a resignation letter is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, you may need a reference from the employer in the future, so it makes sense to take the time to write a professional resignation letter. It's also a document that will become part of your employment file, and it should be written accordingly.

To leave a good impression on your soon-to-be former employer, follow these guidelines when writing your resignation letter:

  • Use standard business letter format for a formal resignation letter. 
  • If you send your letter via email, you can omit the address paragraphs and the date. Instead, choose a subject line that clearly states the subject of the email, e.g., “Resignation—Jane Smith.” 
  • Proofread your letter before you send it. 

Resignation Letter Format

Your Contact Information
First Name Last Name
City, State Zip Code
Phone Number
Email Address


Manager Contact Information
First Name Last Name
City, State Zip Code

Dear [manager’s name],

First Paragraph
State that you are resigning from your position. Include the date of your last day of work.

Middle Paragraph
This paragraph is optional, but if you wish, you can use this space to thank your manager for the opportunities they have given you during your tenure with the company. 

Final Paragraph
Finish your letter by offering to help with the transition and/or meet with your manager to tie up loose ends before you leave.


Handwritten signature (hard copy letter)

Typed signature

Resignation Letter Sample

A well-written resignation letter can help ensure your resignation goes smoothly. Review resignation letter samples, including examples with many different explanations, to get ideas for your letter or email message.

Joanne Wang
214 Grant Place, Apt 2R
Brooklyn, NY 11215

September 1, 2022

Rae Garcia
Senior Marketing Manager
Acme Inc. 
300 18th Street, Suite 200

New York, NY 10011

Dear Rae,

As we discussed, I’m leaving my position as Marketing Coordinator. My last day will be September 15, 2022.

Although I’m excited about the new opportunities awaiting me, I’m sad to be leaving our team. I’m so grateful to you for all that you’ve taught me and the many opportunities you’ve given me to hone my skills. 

I’m happy to help with the transition in any way I can. Please let me know how I can be helpful. 

Best regards,

Signature (hard copy letter)

Joanne Wang

What To Do After You Quit

Once you’ve quit your job, the hardest part of the transition is behind you. However, you’re not finished yet. Address these last details to stick the landing. 

Prepare for an Exit Interview

You may be asked to participate in an exit interview before your departure. Remember to stay positive when discussing your job, manager, and team. Resist the urge to complain on your way out the door.  

Say Goodbye to Your Co-Workers

Take the time to write a personal email or note to the colleagues who've supported you, and with whom you would like to keep in touch. 

Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Collecting Unemployment

When you resign from your job, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. In most cases, if you quit voluntarily, you are not eligible. However, if you left for a good cause, you may be able to collect. 

Prepare to Answer, ‘Why Did You Leave Your Job?’

One of the questions that is typically asked in an interview is "Why are you leaving your job?" or "Why did you leave your job?" if you have already moved on. Again, resist the urge to bash your former boss. Stay positive and you’ll make a better impression on the hiring manager.

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. SHRM. "Can Employers Require Workers to Give Notice Before They Quit?"

  2. "At-Will Employment - Overview."

Related Articles