After you quit your job, your goodbye email to your coworkers has the power to set the tone for your tenure, your departure, and your farewell happy hour drinks at 5.
Leaving with your best face forward is a balancing act between:
- not saying too much about how excited you are, to avoid resentment
- saying just enough about what you're doing next, to inspire jealousy
- and saying more than enough about how awesome your team is, so you'll be remembered as generous and kind
With this in mind, here's a proven 8-step formula for writing your goodbye email.
1. Make your subject line ominous, yet playful
The subject line of your goodbye email should convey the ominous nature of your message without being too alarming, keeping in mind your boss has probably already told everyone anyway.
Stay away from phrases like, "This is it," "My unfortunate departure," or "Checking out for good," and instead go with something like, "I bid you adieu," "A Fond Farewell," or "Here's to all the sexual harassment lawsuits I escaped."
This will make your coworkers excited to read your email (later, if they have time).
2. Say how sad you are to be leaving such an incredible team
Begin by mentioning what a tough decision this was, and make sure to relate how much you enjoyed working on such an awesome team. Say how thankful you are for everything they've taught you, but also be grateful for everything you were able to teach them.
3. Make fun of someone
There's at least one person on every team that everyone likes to make fun of. By making fun of this person, you'll be remembered as one of the cool kids. Say something like "I'll miss all of you, well not all of you, I'm not naming names (Greg)."
4. Mention how long you worked there
It's very important to subtly throw in how long you were a member of the team, so that people appreciate the time you put in. People have a tendency to not remember this, so make sure to remind them. Your coworkers will say, "Oh wow, she was here that long?"
5. Talk about what an exciting ride, adventure, or journey, it's been
Mention all the teams and projects you contributed to, in a way that makes it seem like you're not bragging even though you're totally bragging. Think of this as a list of your notable contributions subtly disguised as nostalgic reminiscing.
6. Talk about your exciting "next chapter"
When you mention where you're headed next, it's important to describe it in a vague way that also makes it sound incredible.
Say something like:
- I'll be exploring the bleeding edge of technology
- I'm following my passion for global health
- I'm seizing a groundbreaking opportunity to re-envision the future of hardwood floors
- This will have everyone's tongue wagging about where you're going, and will give you something to talk about during those awkward goodbye drinks conversations.
7. Leave your contact info
It's important to leave a few ways to reach you:
- Phone number (don't worry, no one will ever call you)
- Contact info for the communication product your team was working on, if there is one (even though you'll probably never use it again)
- Personal email address (should be a first generation Gmail address, otherwise leave this out)
- Twitter and LinkedIn profiles (but don't update your bio with your new position until several weeks after you leave, you don't want to seem too eager)
Since goodbyes are hard for everyone, talk about how this isn't really goodbye. Say you're only an email away. Say you hope your paths will cross again.
8. Leave some advice for the future
End with some parting, sage advice that shows what a deep person you are. This can be a quote from Seth Godin or Steve Jobs, or a general statement about always learning, giving it your all, continuing to change the world and striving for greatness. Be excited for them, and be excited for yourself, and overall leave on a positive note that re-iterates how sad, but still excited, everyone should be.
Finally, here's a sample email that you can use as a template.
Fellow [insert catchy nickname for your coworkers],
It's with a [heavy heart, gentle sad face, knowing glance] that I must share with you my decision to leave [insert name of company]. This was [obviously, clearly, apparently] a very difficult decision to make.
It's hard to believe that [insert how long you worked there] ago, I was the [insert your first position at the company]. From that time, until when I was [insert next position], and all the way to my current role as [insert current position], I have grown so much. Thank you for teaching and inspiring me, and allowing me to do the same for you.
I am headed off to explore my next chapter [insert vague but exciting thing you'll be doing.]
I'm excited about my future there while I continue to be excited about all the things you'll continue to accomplish here (except for you [insert name of person everyone makes fun of]), you never finish anything!
If I could leave you all with just one thought, remember [insert sage advice].
If you ever want to get in touch, my contact info is below. This isn't goodbye, our paths will cross again. Hopefully at farewell happy hour drinks at 5!
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