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Saying goodbye to colleagues can be a difficult part of departing a job, especially when you’ve known each other for some time and genuinely enjoyed working together. You can make the transition easier by sending a farewell message to your coworkers thanking them for their help and encouraging them to stay in touch. Don’t use your farewell message to bash your employer or brag about your new job. Instead, highlight the positive experiences you had on the job. Leaving on a positive note is not only the professional way to do things -- it also ensures that you maintain good relations with former colleagues. This might come in handy down the road should you ever need a reference or wind up doing business with them.
On your last day in the office, send a group email to your co-workers thanking them for their help and wishing them well. Keep the tone light and friendly. For example, you might write, “Hi Everyone, I wanted to thank you all for the roles you played in my professional development during my tenure. I wish you all continued success in the future and hope we stay in touch.” If your colleagues took you to lunch, gave you a group gift or otherwise marked your departure, use the opportunity to thank them for these gestures. Provide your new professional contact information to help with future networking.
If you worked in a small office or department, or you want to single out colleagues for personal messages, deliver hand-written notes to each individual. Use personal stationary or note cards rather than company letterhead. Express sentiments such as your gratitude for patience, support, mentoring or team effort. For example: “You were always such a great cheerleader for me right before I gave nerve-wracking presentations. I’ll always be grateful for your support and kindness.” Include your personal contact information if you want to stay in touch outside a professional venue.
Leaving on Bad Terms
If you’re leaving a hostile work environment, or you had a contentious relationship with colleagues, resist the urge to lob a parting shot. If you want to leave the door open to potential contact in the future, issue a polite, brief goodbye with your business contact information. For example: “Today is my final day with ABC Company. My new contact information is below. Best of luck in future endeavors.”
If You’re Let Go
If you’re unexpectedly terminated and escorted from the building before you can say goodbye, you can still connect to your colleagues for a final farewell. Send a group email from your personal account or mail individual letters to colleagues’ homes. Don’t bad-mouth your employer. Rather, use the opportunity to say goodbye, ask for references and recommendations, and provide co-workers with your contact information. For example, “While the events of today were shocking and unexpected, I nevertheless wanted to say goodbye to each of you. I’ll be starting a new job search shortly and would appreciate referrals or recommendations. Feel free to contact me at your convenience so we can talk more about it."
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.