Are you an academic thinking about changing jobs? Do you want to move into another academic role whilst maintaining a good personal reputation? You would probably agree that it is very important to leave a job in good grace. In the world of academia, your reputation can make a big difference in future endeavours.
In this article, I have gathered some useful advice to help you create a perfect resignation letter.
What should I include in the resignation letter?
Your letter will act as a formal recognition of intent to leave your job. You will need to state your resignation, indicate your expected final date of employment as well as offer support in the transition process. Please do start your letter by expressing your gratitude for having worked in the role. This will help you maintain a good professional attitude.
You also want to offer help to make the transition as smooth as possible. The more senior your role is, the more time it would normally take to hand over your responsibilities. Many people wonder whether they should elaborate on the reasons for leaving. If you have been offered a position with another higher education organisation, you could mention this in the letter (but only if you do not end up blowing your own trumpet).
Many people working in academia find it easier to first have a conversation with their line manager and let them know of their intention of leaving. If your department is facing complex projects, it is wise to discuss first what date would work best for the department (before including any date in your resignation letter). Whilst you may have prepared the letter, do make sure that you only send it to your line manager once you have a formal offer from your new employer.
I am including below a template which you might find helpful. However, please do ensure that you make your letter bespoke and align it to your individual context.
Dear (Line Manager/ Senior Academic),
It has been a pleasure to work as an ………….. (your role) since …………… (DD/MM/YYYY). Thank you very much for your support over the last few years. I have enjoyed collaborating with colleagues and being part of the University.
Please accept this resignation letter as formal notification that I am leaving my academic role. In alignment with my notice period, my final day of employment will be (DD/MM/YYYY).
I would like to make this transition as smooth as possible for the department and carefully hand over my tasks in the next few months. I would be delighted to support my colleagues and be flexible.
Again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for having worked with you.
(Your Full Name and Date)
Do’s of writing a perfect resignation letter:
# Do stick to a formal business format. Most universities are happy to accept letters in e-mail as opposed to hard-copy
# Express your gratitude for working in the job at the start of the letter and also at the end. This will help portray a positive professional image
# Do prepare your resignation letter in advance. If you can, do ask a trusted friend to read it and to let you know if your letter is formal and professional
# Remember that you are under no obligation to explain why you are leaving
# If you want to use your line manager as a referee, do ask for their permission to provide you with a reference before you leave the job
# Transitioning to a new role is generally challenging both for you as well as your colleagues/ superiors. Do offer lots of help to hand over your responsibilities and demonstrate flexibility
# Your resignation letter should be kept on file by your department. Therefore, it is important that you state the role you are resigning from and indicate when you started working in your current role
# Do proofread your letter carefully and avoid any grammatical or punctuation mistakes
Don’ts of writing a perfect resignation letter:
# Do avoid any emotional language or going into too much detail about the reasons for your leaving. If you want to share more about why you are leaving, you might find it helpful to do so in a face-to-face or virtual conversation. However, do make sure that you always maintain a professional approach
# Do not refer to any challenges or frustrations you have faced in your job. Do not include the names of colleagues or refer to any challenging times in the past
# Make sure that your letter does not exceed the maximum of 200 words
# Ensure that you do not brag about the next position you are moving into. Although you might be really excited about your new opportunity and working for a university with an even better reputation, it is best to remain courteous
# Avoid giving too little notice. Do check your employment contract at the time of writing your draft and note your notice period. Generally speaking, the more senior your role is, the more notice you would be expected to give. If you need to negotiate your last date of your employment, do discuss this first with your line manager in a conversation
To maintain a good personal reputation, consistency is key. You need to make sure that you align to what you have agreed to. If you have promised to train up a new member of staff as your replacement, please complete this to the best of your abilities. Once your final working day has been agreed on, do continue working hard and delivering high quality work right up to the last day.
Do put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes. Make every effort to offer help and also to deliver it. Most people do not fully realise how important your personal and professional reputation is in the world of academia. Looking back a few years from now, you would be glad that you have left on positive professional terms.
You may also find these articles helpful:
- Taking a Career Break
- Key Questions To Ask When Starting A New Job
- Job Search Tips in a Post-COVID World
- A Recruiter’s View – Do’s and Don’ts When Applying for a Job