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Saying goodbye to a colleague who is leaving an organisation can be a challenging and an emotional experience. It is important to leave on a positive note , and make a lasting impression on your immediate team and the rest of your colleagues in the company.

Writing a farewell email can be a great way to express gratitude and appreciation for the contribution and support of your colleagues and supervisor and to wish them well in their future endeavours.

Related: How to quit a job

Things to consider when writing a farewell message

When is the best time to send your farewell letter? What is the best way to go about doing it? Before you write or send out your farewell email, read this checklist for what you should and should not do when it comes to the mechanics of a professional farewell letter.

1. Check with the boss before saying anything

Before you send your colleagues a goodbye email, confirm that the boss has already informed everyone about your plans to leave for future endeavours. Do not send a farewell email before your employer has made your resignation known. Once this has been confirmed, you can start thinking about your farewell email to send your colleagues.

2. The word is out that you are leaving – when should you say anything?

You can inform your immediate team once you get the green light from your manager. Most people don't wait until the last day to notify their closest team members, as there is likely a handover process where someone needs to carry on your work until your replacement is hired.

Also, some co-workers may feel offended that you don't think they are close enough for you to inform them. Your company may not appreciate it if you announce your departure to too many people, as that can affect morale, depending on the company's attrition rate. So, think carefully before announcing to various individuals that you have resigned to have the best chance of leaving on a positive note.

For people in the company that you are not close to but are acquaintances with, you can email them one to two days before your last day. Farewell emails on your last few days in the company can also be sent to your closest team, almost like a way of coming full circle for your departure.

3. Get the subject matter right in the farewell email

Writing the perfect farewell email subject line is more challenging than it seems. Ensure you write something easy to understand and clearly indicate the email contents. Here are some examples:

•    Moving to a new endeavour
•    Thanks for everything
•    Bidding goodbye
•    A new journey awaits for me
•    A new adventure in my professional life
•    The next chapter of my career
•    Thanks for being such a great team
•    I will miss working with all of you

Related: 13 questions to ask hiring managers during a job interview

4. How to write your farewell letter
Woman Thinking While Looking at Laptop. Photo by Thirdman via Pexels.

Regardless of your reason for leaving, it is essential to say goodbye professionally, ideally writing individually to each person on your team a unique farewell note. You may even choose to do handwritten notes for your immediate teammates.

However, you may be bogged down with a lot of work to clear before your last day, so it's understandable if you can't do individual letters.

Be sure to show gratitude

Whatever the case is, your email should be positive and friendly. If you are emailing someone you have become close to, you can share something funny or what you like about them in your touching farewell email. Tell them how they have been a great friend and try to keep the tone of voice in the email as when you are speaking.

Include relevant contact details

Be sure to include your personal contact information such as your email address, mobile number and perhaps your LinkedIn profile URL. Depending on your next role, keeping in touch with your ex-colleagues can help you get career advice in your career journey. If you are moving into contract work, they could also potentially be your first clients.

Related: Pros and cons of using AI to write resumes

Consider a brief note for co-workers you are not close to

Avoid sending long emails to colleagues throughout the entire company. This could be off-putting, and most only need to know a little about your move to a new company.

A well-composed farewell note can say all the right things to the right people. So, whether your vibe is wild or mild, ensure the individual reading your goodbye email will see you as a wonderful person.

It is essential to differentiate between relationships, so it can be helpful to send just a quick note to everyone but to add a more heartfelt goodbye and personal contact information to those you worked closely with or a good friend.

Use the right tone with your manager Crop colleagues shaking hands in office. Photo by Sora Shimazaki via Pexels.

Your direct supervisor will have had a different relationship with you than most of your colleagues, so you should consider sending a different farewell letter to that particular individual.

If the relationship has been good, express how lucky you were to work under them. Tell them you are leaving with a heavy heart, and working with them was a pleasure. If your relationship with your manager has not been positive, you can simply include them in the email that you were planning to email everyone else with.

Related: Resignation letter templates

Send the right message to your clients

If you have been handling clients, leave on good terms. Send the clients a personal message to say how much you have enjoyed working with them and wish them and their businesses all the best.

Ensure you tell them your plans to hand details to the relevant colleagues handling their business after you leave. If necessary, copy that colleague into the email as well. A smooth business transition is vital at this stage, so a professional goodbye email is essential. Offer contact details if appropriate.

Always remain calm and polite

Even if you dislike your job and colleagues, you must keep your tone professional. If you have constructive criticism that could help the company, you would have already been able to share it with your managers before you resign and will not need to wait for your exit interview to mention it.

Therefore, the harsh truth is that not everyone will appreciate your thoughtfulness, which is perhaps one reason why you resigned.

Your goodbye messages to the company and your resignation letter are not the right platforms to air your grievances or complain about your work or people. You could be burning bridges that might have been useful to your career in the coming years. You may also miss out on some helpful career advice as a result. It is therefore a good idea to stay calm and maintain your professionalism.

How you leave a company can say a lot about your personality, contributions to the business and prospects for the future. As with many other things, there is a right and wrong way to handle the leaving process. These tips on farewell notes will help you do everything optimally.

Farewell letter templates

If you decide to send your letter through email, here are three versions of farewell email letters to provide a starting point for writing your personalised email to your colleagues. Feel free to add any specific messages that are important and relevant to your situation. 

Related: Making a career change

Version 1:

Subject: Farewell, and thank you for the memories!

Dear colleagues,

It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to all of you after working together for [insert duration of your tenure] at [insert company name]. As some may already know, I have decided to pursue new opportunities and challenges.

I wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to each of you for making my time at [insert company name] truly memorable. I have learned so much from each of you, and I will always cherish the memories we have created together. I am leaving with a sense of pride and satisfaction, knowing that I have contributed in my own way to the success of this organisation.

I also wanted to wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Please keep in touch, and let's stay connected on [insert social media platform] or [insert personal email address].

Thank you once again for everything. I will miss all of you dearly.

Warm regards,
[Your name]

Version 2:

Subject: Saying goodbye and expressing my appreciation

Dear all,

As some of you may know, I have resigned from my position at [insert company name] to pursue other opportunities. My last day here will be [insert last day].

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for making my time here a truly rewarding experience. Working alongside such a talented and dedicated team has been an honour and a privilege. I have learned so much from each of you, and I will always be grateful for the support and encouragement you have shown me throughout my tenure.
Although I am sad to leave, I am excited about the future. I am confident that I will take the valuable skills and knowledge I have gained here and apply them to my future endeavours.

I wish you continued success and happiness in your careers and personal lives. Please keep in touch, and let's stay connected on [insert social media platform] or [insert personal email address].

Thank you again for everything.

Best regards,
[Your name]

Version 3:

Subject: Farewell and a new chapter ahead

Dear colleagues,

I hope this email finds you well. As you may already know, I have resigned from my position at [insert company name]. My last day here will be [insert last day].

I wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to each of you for your support, guidance, and friendship during my time here. I have truly enjoyed working with such a talented and dynamic team, and I will always cherish the memories we have created together.

While it is hard to say goodbye, I am excited about the new opportunities that lie ahead. I am confident that the skills and experience I have gained here will serve me well in my future endeavours. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and the relationships I have built, and I will always look back on my time at [insert company name] with fondness.

Thank you again for everything. Please keep in touch, and let's stay connected. Here are my contact details: [insert social media platform] or [insert personal email address].

Best wishes,
[Your name]

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