How to Retract a Resignation Letter in 10 Steps (Example)

It’s human nature to get second thoughts about anything in life, including whether or not you want to leave the job you have already resigned from. Retracting a resignation letter happens frequently, and if you’re in a situation where you’re considering this, don’t panic: you’re certainly not the only one!

Retracting your resignation letter requires planning and thought in order for you to get the outcome you want. This article discusses why you might want to retract your resignation, how to prepare, some tips on how to write the letter, as well as a sample letter for you to use.

What does it mean to retract a resignation letter?

Retracting a resignation letter is essentially a formal acknowledgment that you no longer wish to leave your current organization and to instead continue working there. In the same way you have to formally resign from a job in writing, you also need to rescind that resignation formally as well. That said, doing this is not a guarantee that the retraction will be accepted.

When should you retract a resignation letter?

Retracting a resignation letter should be done as soon as possible after quitting your job; the longer you wait, the greater the inconvenience to your employer.

Ideally, you’ll retract your resignation immediately or at least before your employer has formally accepted your resignation letter; this gives you the greatest chance of your retraction being accepted. You could even withdraw your resignation letter in an exit interview.

Don’t let too much of your notice period elapse before retracting your resignation, as arrangements might already be in place to replace you. You can also save time by communicating directly with the decision-makers, such as your line manager or human resources.

Reasons to retract a resignation letter

There are plenty of valid reasons to retract a resignation letter, many of which will be understood by employers. Here’s a list of the five top reasons to retract a resignation letter:

Tips for withdrawing a resignation letter

Withdrawing a resignation letter requires you to act fast; it also needs careful planning. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you get ready to withdraw your resignation and write your letter:

1. Act swiftly

If you’re planning to withdraw your resignation, you need to act fast. The wheels might already be in motion to replace you; the vacancy might be posted or interviews might already be happening, and other colleagues might already be preparing to take on your work.

The longer you wait, the higher the chances are that it wouldn’t be possible for you to retract your resignation because someone has been contracted to replace you or budgets have been rewritten without your role. Also, it’s less courteous and professional to retract a resignation at the eleventh hour.

2. Be flexible

As you write a letter retracting your resignation and prepare for any discussions about this, keep in mind that you might need to be flexible about what your “future” job might look like.

In some circumstances, your job cannot be changed without formal consultation, but in some others, your employer might ask (or demand) for some changes to be made to your responsibilities, reporting lines, or even practical terms like salary or working hours. Be prepared for this, and consider what flexibility you can offer if this situation arises.

3. Read your company handbook

It’s vital that you read your company handbook for advice regarding how resignations are retracted. Company handbooks can outline the legal position of retracting resignations, the company’s stance on resignation retractions, and how you do it and to whom you address the letter (at a minimum, you will always be expected to retract a resignation in writing).

Not consulting your employee handbook might mean that your request isn’t aligned with organizational procedure; therefore, you might be required to submit it again, by which time it might be too late.

4. Remain professional at all times

Throughout the resignation retraction process, it’s vital that you remain professional, positive and calm at all times. Doing so affirms to your employer that accepting your retraction is the right thing to do.

Accept the possibility that your retraction might not be accepted. If this happens, all you can do is remain positive and thank the manager for their time and consideration. Reflect on the experience and move on.

5. Speak to your manager ahead of time

Speak to your boss as soon as you can to tell them of your intentions; this way, they can prepare for you formally retracting your resignation while you write your letter or email.

When you send your retraction letter, suggest a meeting between you and your manager to discuss the retraction in more detail and provide context as to why you are doing this. This also enables the manager to digest your letter and come to you with any questions when there is more time.

How to write a letter withdrawing your resignation

Writing a letter or an email to withdraw your resignation is an important part of the retraction process. Here are 10 tips on how to write a letter withdrawing your resignation:

1. Apologize for the inconvenience

A bit of humility goes a long way in a letter to retract your resignation. Time, effort and, in some cases, expense would have gone into sourcing your replacement and figuring out the redistribution of workload. Therefore, it’s essential that you apologize for the inconvenience your retraction might cause.

A brief line at the start of the letter is a good idea, such as “I understand the burden this situation might put upon the team, and I apologize profusely and in advance for the inconvenience”. You can also briefly apologize again at the end of the letter.

2. Assure them this is your final decision

One of the largest fears an employer will have in accepting your retraction is that you might yo-yo in your decision, and this uncertainty might lead to hesitation on their part.

Assure your employer that you have made your final decision by affirming your commitment but also that you have given this letter serious thought and have reflected long and hard on the decision to retract. In some ways, a professional and thorough retraction letter will do a lot of this persuasion for you!

3. Discuss your concerns

It’s important that, in your resignation retraction letter, you discuss your concerns that led to you resigning from the job in the first place. Proactively address these concerns and offer suggestions and interventions you can lead on to ensure they are mitigated should you remain in the role.

This might involve swallowing a bit of humble pie, but never feel you have to accept something that isn’t right or overcommit to fixing something that cannot be resolved by you.

4. Express appreciation

In your retraction letter, you’ll want to thank your employer for all they have done for you thus far in your journey with them. This might be a repeat of your carefully thought-out resignation letter, but it pays to reiterate your appreciation for their investment in you.

Similarly, appreciate their time in considering your resignation retraction and how you understand this might be a hard decision that will take time to make.

5. Explain your reasoning

One of the most critical parts of writing a letter retracting your resignation is where you explain your reasoning for doing so. Here, it pays to be sincere and honest but also in a way that doesn’t do a disservice to your current employer.

Whether you’re retracting your resignation due to personal reasons, a re-evaluation of your current role or career goals, or if a new job offer has fallen through, explain what happened clearly but concisely, and truthfully when doing so.

6. Reaffirm your value and support

Your employer will want to know that if they decide to accept your resignation retraction, they will be making the right decision.

Ensure you affirm your commitment to your current employer by explaining that you remain invested in their goals, value the team’s contributions, and how you can be a part of this moving forward. Explain that you see a long-term future with the organization and want to build a career with them.

7. Request to keep your job

State clearly that you want to keep your job. This is different from retracting your resignation, as here you are explaining to the reader that you wish to re-engage with your current employer in the same role on the same terms.

Emphasize that you wish for a like-for-like role and are not requesting a better package or bargaining a different kind of offer. This reaffirms that your retraction is a simple continuation of the role you are currently in.

8. Start with a retraction statement

When writing a letter withdrawing your resignation, the first thing you should do is provide a clear and concise retraction statement.

In some jurisdictions, this will be formally required to re-establish a contract of employment or stop the termination process. At the very least, this clear statement will leave no doubt in the mind of the reader about your intentions, leaving you free to focus on writing the rest of the letter.

9. Suggest a reintegration plan

Even if you write to retract your resignation early, there’s a chance that some wheels have been moving to replace you. You might have even left your job already, working your notice period away from work.

In these situations, you should use your letter to make brief recommendations as to how your re-introduction to the workplace be managed. This might be a timeline of how you re-assume your responsibilities or how a handover can be “handed back” to you.

10. Use positive language

Write your resignation retraction letter positively. Use forward-thinking words and phrases, and avoid talking negatively about your reasons for leaving or giving the impression that you “had no choice” to return.

Be future-focused and long-term-oriented, and speak positively about your experience and your employer to give them every reason to accept your retraction.

Example letter

Here’s an example letter that you can customize or use as a template to withdraw your resignation letter:

Alex Smith

123 Spruce Street
Boston, MA 12345

[email protected]

(555) 123-4567

Ellis Jones
Sales Director
Newark Tower
123 Main Street
Boston, MA 54321

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Dear Ellis,

I hope this letter finds you well.

I am writing this letter to formally retract my resignation from Alphacorp, which I submitted in writing on May 16, 2024. I have taken some time to reflect on my decision to resign and have come to the careful conclusion that it is in the best interests of myself and Alphacorp that I continue my employment here.

I wish to apologize for the inconvenience my resignation might have caused. I respect the company and treasure the opportunities I have been given here, and I remain committed to Alphacorp’s continued success.

Note that this is a decision I have given careful thought to make. I am fully invested in re-engaging with my colleagues and my responsibilities. I look forward to a productive and rewarding future at Alphacorp where I can grow professionally and contribute to the goals of this exciting organization.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and apologies once again for the inconvenience caused. I am available to discuss this matter at your convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Smith

Final thoughts

Even though retracting a resignation letter doesn’t guarantee acceptance, a carefully thought-out letter will greatly help you in remaining in your current role.

Ensure you keep professional, positive and flexible during the process, and that you retract your resignation in a timely manner. Writing your letter courteously but honestly, with a future-focused and committed tone, will mean that employers will take your retraction seriously and give it plenty of consideration.

And, finally, if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, then take the experience as a decent bit of learning, reflect on it, and move on.

This article is a complete update of an earlier version originally published on May 14, 2016.

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