A goodbye letter can tell you a lot about an employee.
When Marissa Mayer left Yahoo in June, the infamous micro-manager sent her staff a 1,000 word, 24 bullet point diatribe.
For most of us, a farewell email as you’re approaching your last day is the easiest way to let your company know you don’t curse the day you were hired. Plus, you can provide your contact information, which is important for future networking opportunities.
Despite their importance, a farewell message is generally not worth stressing over — but since you’re probably going to anyway, we asked some career experts how to go out on a high note.
Know Your Audience
For starters, it’s important to be selective about who you’re sending your note to.
And who you send it to depends on your job title.
If you’re an executive, firing off an all-staff missive is par for the course.
For the rank and file employees, sending a mass email looping in all the people whose names you never cared to learn can make you seem a bit big for your britches.
Whittle your “To:” field down to coworkers you actually work with — the people who could give you a solid character reference, if it came to that. If your tenure was short, that list should be as well.
“If you’ve been there for less than three years, I wouldn’t even contemplate sending an email to the whole company,” says Tom Gimbel, a careers expert and CEO of the staffing firm LaSalle Network. “I’ve had situations where someone who was with us for three months sent an email about how they made some of their best friends here. It comes across looking kind of goofy.”
Hone Your Voice
Tone-wise, you’ll want to be pretty chill about the whole thing. And you definitely want to leave a positive impression.
Reddit’s chock-full of admirable attempts at sticking it to the man via goodbye email. But even if the job was a nightmare, using email to “mic drop,” or say anything negative for that matter, is a resoundingly bad idea.
“Your digital footprint is permanent,” says Katie Smith, EVP of the compliance software company Convercent. “Be wary of using it as an opportunity to broadcast complaints or regrets. You don’t know what your former colleagues will do with your words once you’re gone.”
Honesty is the Best Policy
So what does belong in a goodbye email?
Before we get into the subject and the body of the message, so should mention that it is completely fine to send this message from your personal email address. This leaves the dialogue open for responses long after you’ve packed up your things.
Now, onto the actual email.
The key thing here is: be honest and positive. If you can’t honestly say anything positive, then your email should be extremely short.
To start, the subject line of your goodbye message should be clear. Something along the lines of “Thank You and Farewell” is short and sweet, yet still gets the message across.
To open the message, express your gratitude and briefly explain why you are leaving and if you’re taking on a new position. Also, include the date of your final day, so there are no loose ends.
It’s good to rattle off a few accomplishments you’re proud of — reminding people of the projects you helped bring to life will help keep your contributions top of mind for your growing career network. This isn’t a cover letter, though, so try not to sound like you’re selling yourself.
To make your final goodbye a little more personal, consider including a funny moment that you’ll cherish, or mention the best parts of working there that you’ll never forget.
Don’t go overboard on accomplishments or personal stories. In most cases, experts agree, the shorter the note, the better.
Close out your farewell letter with a sincere “Thank You” to your co-workers for the opportunities, support, and companionship they gave you.
Wrap it up by throwing in your personal contact information, including your email address, phone number, and social media profiles (if appropriate).
Be honest about what you loved about your time there, and leave it at that,” says Rachel Bitte, Jobvite’s Chief People Office.
The most important thing is to close out on a positive note. If you do that, you’ll be leaving the workplace on the right foot.
Sample Farewell Email
So you don’t have to start from scratch, here is a sample email you can use as a template. In this email, we are assuming you are close with your coworkers. If you are not close with your coworkers, remember the #1 rule: be honest!