After you’ve handed in your resignation letter, cleared out your drawers, got rid of sensitive documents and debriefed your replacement, the only thing left to do is send a farewell email. And while it’s something that shouldn’t be stressful, many people freeze up and don’t know what to write.
To make sure that you leave a lasting impression (for all the right reasons), we’ve devised a step-by-step guide to ensure that you cover the bases (without overdoing it).
So, even if your feelings towards your soon-to-be ex-colleagues aren’t pleasant, here’s how to write the perfect goodbye email – and walk out the door on the right foot!
The structure of a goodbye email
As with any workplace email, you want to make sure that it’s perfectly structured –and error-free, unless you want to suffer the same public embarrassment that former US press secretary Sean Spicer did back in 2017 when he sent out a goodbye letter with a typo!
Generally speaking, your email should contain the following elements.
- Subject: Depending on your relationship with your colleagues, and the company’s culture, the tone of your subject line can differ. You can opt for something playful like ‘Adiós Amigos’ or choose something safe like ‘Goodbye’. If you’re contacting clients, ‘Last Day at [Company Name]’ will do the trick.
- Salutation: Understandably, you’ll need to open your email professionally. If you’re sending a mass email, ‘Dear All’ will suffice.
- Opening paragraph: Your opening paragraph doesn’t have to be an emotional essay of your thoughts and feelings. Instead, you simply need to address the purpose of your email, which is the fact that you’re leaving the company.
- Body: In the body, list a few positives about your time with the company, like a specific project you worked on or the skills you developed during your time there.
- Final paragraph: In the final paragraph, you can give a shout-out to the people that have helped and mentored you along the way. For example, if you’ve built a close relationship with your boss, don’t be afraid to show your appreciation here.
- Closing: Finish your email by providing your contact information. This doesn’t have to include your phone number – because who really calls anyone in today’s age?! Instead, include a respectable personal email (not, your MSN email address from 2002).
- Your name: As with any professional email, sign off appropriately with ‘Kind Regards’ followed by your name.
Tips for writing a goodbye email
1. Don’t overshare
Whether you’re moving on to your dream position and can’t wait to see the back of your current job, or if you’re in a bittersweet mood as you’ve had a great time where you are, it important not to overshare your emotions. You don’t want to be remembered as the person who broke down in tears on their last day, do you?
2. Keep a friendly tone
Your farewell message should have a friendly tone; it’s important to be remembered in high spirits. Remember that your digital footprint is forever, so you don’t want anything that you’ve said in a trivial email to haunt you for a lifetime.
3. Finish all your tasks first
Following a farewell email, it’s only natural that a few coworkers will pass by your desk to bid you goodbye and wish you luck in your future endeavours. Therefore, it’s important to wrap up any outstanding tasks before you’re ready to shut everything down and send your goodbye email.
4. Reflect on positive memories
Your leaving message is a good opportunity to reflect on positive memories or inspirational people that you’ve worked with during your time at the company. For example, you can send a special shout-out to your team leader for all their assistance or explain how excited you were for your success on XYZ project and how you couldn’t have made it without the rest of your team.
5. Avoid making negative comments
Even if your job was a nightmare and you can’t wait to walk out the door, it’s important to refrain from a mic drop email! It’s better to say nothing at all than to say something that can come back to haunt you.
And if you strongly feel like you have nothing to say, you can wish them goodbye and good luck with the future success of the business.
6. Include your contact information
If you’ve made valuable friendships with your workmates, you’ll most likely want to stay in touch with them, which is why it’s important to include your contact information in your email. You can also mention that you’re open to questions when you leave – although people generally won’t contact you for work, it’s nice for them to know that they can if they really need to.
7. Keep it short and sweet
Your email doesn’t need to be as long as Marissa Mayer’s letter when she left Yahoo! in 2017 (which was 1,090 words long, to be exact). The shorter, the better! People don’t want to read an essay (they may even switch off halfway through and think that you’re a complete bore) – not the ideal image that you want to portray before you’re gone for good!
8. Send a separate email to clients
If you have a list of loyal clients that you’ve been working with, it’s only respectful to contact them and let them know that you are moving on. In this instance, don’t get into any details of why you are moving (you don’t want to put them off the business); instead, thank them for their faithfulness and point them into the direction of your replacement.
9. Connect on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great way to keep in touch with your colleagues and to keep abreast of their development. It’s also an easy way to keep in contact without having to exchange numbers, and it will grow your professional network. Before leaving the company, you should also ask your line manager to leave a recommendation for you, which could benefit you when looking for future opportunities.
Goodbye email samples
Feel free to use the following samples as the basis of your own goodbye email. That said, be sure not to rely on templates too much as they can remove that personal touch you so want to capture.
After [insert number] months/years working here, my time has come to an end as I’ve decided to move on/move countries and take the next step in my career/life.
It’s been amazing working with you all, and I’ll never forget the great memories that I’ve made with you (the sports day being one of the top highlights). I truly have learnt so much from [insert name] and have appreciated every moment spent at [insert company name].
I’d really like to keep in touch with you all, so please feel free to contact me on [insert contact details].
Wishing you all the best!
PS: Feel free to help yourselves to the homemade cookies in the kitchen!
Dear [Client Name],
I hope you’re keeping well.
I’m getting in touch to let you know that I’ll be leaving my current position at [insert company name], and my last working day will be [insert date].
My colleague [insert name] will be taking over and is fully aware of the projects that we have been working on, so you are in safe hands!
It’s been such a pleasure working with you, and I wish you all the best for the future.
If there is anything you want to tie up before my departure, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Things to remember
- Proofread before you send. As with any letter or email, it’s important to proofread it before you hit the ‘Send’ button. You don’t want your last memory to be an embarrassing one like Sean Spicer!
- Say goodbye to your manager in person. Whether you butted heads with your manager or got on like a house on fire, it’s vital that you thank them for the opportunities they have provided you. After all, they are the person that had faith in you and hired you in the first place.
No matter whether you’ve had good or bad times in your job, it’s important to walk out the door with your head held high knowing that you’ve done the right thing.
And remember: you don’t need to expose all your emotions within your farewell email. Instead, a short and sweet goodbye will work!
Have you ever struggled with writing a farewell email? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 28 July 2015.