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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

How to Write a Resignation Email Subject Line

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Quitting a job comes with a wave of emotions—and I say this from personal experience. You might go through a rush of empowerment, while still feeling the weight of uncertainty, guilt, and precursory nostalgia. Whatever your sentiments are, a few concrete steps must be taken. One of those is sending a resignation email, and for that, you’ll need an appropriate resignation email subject line.

Of course, we have tips on how to write a resignation email subject line that will make this easier for you—but first, let’s tackle the hard part.

What to do before you send a resignation email

You’ve decided to quit your job. Great, now choose your last day. In the United States, it’s customary to give two weeks’ notice, unless the situation (or workplace dynamics) demands a fast departure. To give that notice, you need to meet with your manager.

“You want to schedule a one-on-one, in-person meeting with your boss,” says Erin McGoff, founder of AdviceWithErin. “So just send them a message and put a short meeting on their calendar, ideally on a Friday. They’ll probably know what it’s about.”

McGoff recommends doing this over sending the bad news via email or Slack, even if you expect the conversation to be difficult. “Bad news is best delivered in-person, and I don’t think you should let the fear of unpleasant emotions hold you back from having the conversation. Face-to-face is much more likely to yield a better result,” she says.

Read more: How to Quit Your Job With Grace

Before you go into the meeting, make sure to save everything you want to hold onto—in particular, your contacts and your work. You never know how a resignation meeting will go, and leaving with a strong network is key.

“Gather the email addresses and contact info of people you enjoyed working with—you can even add them on LinkedIn,” says Jerry Lee, COO of Wonsulting. “Also, save anything impact-related: records of projects, impact numbers, all of that. Depending on the company, you may lose access to everything as soon as you’ve given notice. They may even walk you out of the building right then and there.”

In the meeting itself, McGoff adds, keep it professional. “Quitting isn’t personal, it happens all the time. You can thank the experience and express your appreciation in the meeting, but otherwise leave the emotion out of it.” In other words, the goal is to let them know you are moving on and when your last day will be.

Then, you’re ready to send your resignation email.

Why is the resignation email important

Your resignation email serves to reiterate and solidify everything you said in the meeting. “This is not the time to air out all of your grievances,” says Christian Lovell, of Careers by Chris. “It’s just cut and dry, 'This is my last working day.' It’s a formal statement of resignation.”

“It’s also something tangible that can be used to support and advocate for you legally, if needed,” McGoff adds. “That way, if your resignation isn’t well received and something happens—they try to withhold your last paycheck or say ‘you didn’t actually quit,’ for instance—you can say 'Nope, it’s all here in writing.' You’ve got yourself covered.”

How to write a formal resignation email subject line

Like the meeting, your resignation email subject line should be straightforward, no frills. “This email has a specific and professional purpose, so be as direct and clear as possible,” says Lovell.

So, when you’re crafting a subject line:

1. Use the word “resignation” in the subject line. After all, people are inundated with emails, and you want to make sure yours gets the attention that it deserves.

2. Put your name in the subject line. Again, the ideal is to have a clear, easy-to-find record of your resignation.

And that’s it—you’re done! For the sake of illustration, here are two simple resignation email subject line templates to use:

“Resignation Letter - Your Name”

“Your Name - Resignation Letter”

If you want, you can add the date to the subject line. Otherwise, leave anything else out.

Resignation email: What to include

Your resignation email should be addressed to one person: your boss (although you could also copy the head of HR, if desired). If you want to let other people know you are leaving and share your personal email, it's OK, but do that in a separate message—that’s more of a farewell email.

Here’s a great resignation email example:

Subject Line: Resignation Letter - Your Name

Hi Andrea,

Thank you for our conversation today, where I let you know that my last day will be MM/DD. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work here and I wish you all the best of luck moving forward.

Thank you,

Your Name

How you tweak that general template will depend on your experience at the company. For instance, if you had a horrible time and don’t feel good thanking them, you can leave that out. The only need-to-haves are your name, statement of resignation, and your official last day.

Resignation email: What to avoid

McGoff and Lovell agree that the most common mistake people make is being too casual or emotional in their resignation emails.

“Whether it’s good or bad emotion, you want to leave it out. If you love your supervisor and want to express that, you could send another email outside of your formal resignation email or have a conversation on Zoom or in-person,” Lovell says.

It’s also worth noting that ideally, you shouldn't resign until your next gig is lined up. The offer should be signed and you should know your new start date.

When to send your resignation email

Both experts suggest resigning on a Friday so that your last day also falls on a Friday. Your resignation meeting and email should happen on the same day, ideally in quick succession.

“You can send the resignation email as soon as the meeting with your boss wraps up,” says Lovell. “At the latest, within 24 hours of that meeting.”

McGoff says the same—send it right after your meeting—and cautions against telling others your news before you tell your boss. “Word travels fast and people chitter chatter,” she warns.

A final word

Sending a resignation email can feel like a daunting task, but when you consider its sole purpose, it’s actually quite simple. It’s important to remember that not every resignation goes to plan—managers get mad, or sad, or don’t care—but as long as you handle it professionally, you’ve done your part. Keep your resignation meeting direct and brief, and your correspondences clear and free of emotion. (No funny subject line for your resignation email, please!)