How to Write a Farewell Email to Your Co-workers
March 1, 2008 16 Comments
A couple years ago, I left Identrust to go work for Pay By Touch. I’d worked at Identrust and a predecessor company, eFinance, for 5 years. So I wanted my farewell email to be more than just good-bye. I wanted to impart deep wisdom to my colleagues as well
Pasted below is that email.
From: Hutch Carpenter
Sent: Thu 11/10/2005 12:54 PM
To: Identrus Global
Subject: This is my farewell email
Hi all –
The subject line is the first thing all of us see. And it usually fits the personality of the sender. Remember that if someone saves your email, they’ll “know” you by the subject line in the long list of saved emails. A former colleague at eFinance used “Over and out!” for her subject line. With her aggressive, sharp personality, that subject line is a continuing reminder of her. And Shawn’s recent farewell email had the subject line, “Good tidings”. Now that really does sound like Shawn, doesn’t it? Very positive.
2. “AS MANY OF YOU KNOW”
While not universal, it is common to open the email with a variation of, “as many of you know”. This recognizes that you have told several people internally already, and it would be impolitic to send out an email without acknowledging that fact. It’s debatable how necessary this is, but Miss Manners would approve of the courtesy extended to your “gentle readers”.
Whenever a colleague leaves an organization, there are the inevitable questions as to why he or she is doing so. For those with whom you regularly work, you’ve probably already explained it. But there’s a wider audience for your farewell email. People that may not have the full story and for whom your email serves as their only confirmed information. Don’t leave them hanging! Provide some information that gives a bit of closure. Again, Shawn’s recent farewell email was very good in explaining his desire to move to Seattle. Another former eFinance colleague explained her decision to move to China with her husband. The rumor mill will always be out there, but this is your chance to say why you’re leaving.
4. RECOUNT YOUR WORK AT THE COMPANY
This is a universal, must-do in your email. I mean, you’ve done a lot of work with your colleagues, some of it exhilarating, some of it petrifyingly dull. This is the moment to remember the good times! Keep in mind that your email may be read at a later date; what do you want people to remember? Note, however, that it is not common practice to spell out specific accomplishments. Rather, a hearty “cheers” to your work together will suffice. Some examples:
“what a hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping, team-building experience”
“experience has been rewarding in many ways”
“accomplished a lot together”
“happy to have met and worked with you”
“appreciated the time we spent together”
“you have all been ‘Super Great’!”
5. CONTACT INFORMATION
Post-employment contact information is a nearly universal element of the farewell email. The most common information provided to your colleagues is an outside email address, with some providing their mobile phone information as well. This is good info for those who remain after your departure – they may have to reach you about something! Of course, depending on your frame of mind as you leave, you may wish to enter the Ex-Employee Witness Protection Program instead, providing no contact information at all.
You’ve gotten through the hardest parts of the letter, now it’s time for the sign-off. This really is a place for individual preferences. A crisp, business-like “Regards” may work for those who prefer not to get too mushy with their co-workers. Something like “Hugs” would be…well…cutesy, but could work for some folks. The most common approach is to maintain a professional decorum laced with a touch of warmth (e.g. “Warmest Regards”).
7. LENGTH OF EMAIL
Brevity is a common characteristic (editor’s note: hmmm….seem to have missed that one…).
So there you go, the Seven Characteristics of Highly Effective Farewell Emails. Now let’s put them into practice:
Dear Friends & Colleagues –
As many of you know, today is my last day with Identrus. On Monday, I start my new job as a Product Manager for Pay By Touch, a company which offers biometric identification of consumers at the checkout of retailers. For me, the opportunity to move more into a product role has been something of interest for a while, so I’m looking forward to tackling that challenge. Pay By Touch is located here in San Francisco.
I joined eFinance way back in October 2000, and have many fond memories of the accomplishments there and more recently with Identrus. I want to thank all of you for the opportunity to work together and for teaching me something about this PKI business. Things are rolling here at Identrus and I wish you the best for a very bright future!
If you need to reach me, my contact information is: