Often, when leaving a company, you do so with a heavy heart. If you’re leaving on good terms, that is. If the separation is mutual and no ill feelings remain, you may want to express your parting sentiments to your coworkers remaining behind. In this case, you’ll want to distill your parting thoughts in a touching farewell letter to colleagues.
Because so much of your time goes toward working alongside these people, making sure to tie up loose ends, promising to keep in touch, and ultimately, leaving a good impression, are paramount. This is especially true as you worked hard to build your personal brand.
Also, practically speaking, because you spent over one-third of your waking hours with these people, you’ve likely developed lasting relationships with the people you worked with, including supervisors, teammates, and other colleagues you may have worked with on past projects or teams.
To drive home the importance of your relationships, your touching farewell letters to colleagues need to demonstrate the network you built resulted in something more than merely business casual in nature. Stating in plain language how your experiences developed you as a person, resulted in formative experiences, and occupied your time in a worthwhile manner should come across in your words.
A farewell letter gracefully and professionally informs your colleagues about your departure. It also sets the tone for your entire tenure and parting. Your goal here should include leaving a positive impression, stating your gratefulness for the experiences shared with your coworkers, and demonstrating your fondness for your time spent together.
This will result in placing your best foot forward and also not tipping the scales toward eagerness to leave. While there may be an element of that present, you at no point want to express negativity in your statements.
This includes avoiding resentment, and instead, stating just enough to inform your coworkers of your next steps in your career (or retirement if you’ve reached financial independence). Exhibit sound decision-making and part on good terms.
As you’ve commonly heard, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Make sure your parting impression makes people want to see you again should you ever return. This will make people remember you as generous and kind, avoids jealousy and shows respect and admiration for your time spent together.
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Important Aspects of a Touching Farewell Letter to Colleagues
Content is Positive
To drive home the importance of your time spent together, a rule of thumb is to kill them with kindness and positivity. Much like Dale Carnegie asserts in How to Win Friends and Influence People, always overwhelm with positivity and kindness. In so doing, you demonstrate to your team an attitude which should make any negativity seem out of place and unwelcome. Even if the times spent together weren’t always rosy, highlighting that in a letter can do no one any good. As a result, always remain positive in the letter and be sincere.
Personalize the Contents by Adding Specific Details
Doing so shows thoughtfulness in your words and measures your actions. It shows you’ve taken time to reflect on the contents of your touching farewell letter to colleagues. By highlighting specific details, it can remind coworkers of the best times you’ve had together and make them remember your time together for the best experiences.
When in Doubt, Keep it Light-Hearted and Include Humor
Sometimes, when writing a touching farewell letter to colleagues, there can be an inclination to make very heavy statements to express your thoughts. While this can help to convey your true sentiments, often, mixing heavy with light-hearted ideas can draw out your meaning more due to the contrast. Personally, I’ve found success using humor to defray situations in conversations. The same works with the written word.
If Posted Publicly on Social Media, Allow for Subtle Self-Promotion
If this letter lands on social media, you want to exercise great caution for the words you choose. Because your business will display publicly, you will want to remain cognizant of how you reflect on your time with coworkers at your organization. This also serves as dual purpose: subtly promoting yourself, brand, and reputation. Use of sincerity and careful observation should go toward making your reputation online (and therefore, with future potential employers) pristine and magnetic.
While this should be obvious given you’re written a touching farewell letter to colleagues, it still bears pointing out. In this letter, always make yourself appear humble, demonstrate gratitude, and let the rest fall where it may. Try not to thank anyone in particular if this is meant for wide-circulation, sticking primarily to the company as a whole and people you’ve worked with in general. If you plan to customize the farewell letter for each colleague, feel free to tailor your thoughts and words accordingly.
Offer to Remain Connected Despite Your Parting
Finally, an important part to drive home is the desire to remain connected. By avoiding this offer, it may feel as though you’re burning bridges. You want to convey a sense of respect for your erstwhile colleagues while hoping to stay in touch. If nothing else, you never know when your paths may cross again in the future.
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Leaving is Never Easy, But Sometimes is Best
Recently, I parted ways with the only employer I have had since graduating college. I learned a great deal from my time there, including about the solar energy investment tax credit, how to use a depreciation calculator to model financial results, what tax reform in 2018 did to utility companies, how to claim the earned income tax credit through volunteer work under the VITA program, among many other items.
My time with the company led to extensive career development, rewarding experiences, and interactions with highly-competent individuals. In many ways, I was fortunate to start my career at this employer.
That said, other opportunities in a different part of the country called my name. My growing family required a relocation to be near family, better schools, and more opportunities for my wife and I’s careers.
Knowing I left on great terms with my colleagues gives me peace of mind. It also provides me the opportunity to keep those relationships intact going forward.
For an idea of how I wrote my goodbye message to colleagues, see my example published on social media below. Be sure to use this as a template and customize the various elements to fit your unique situation.
Your circumstances will vary from what you value from your time spent with colleagues, to what you learned and experienced, to your emotional connection with the organization. Because everyone is different, so should your thank you and farewell message to colleagues.
Farewell Email / Letter Writing Tips
- Express sincerity. Don’t include anything fake or superficial in your words. Be genuine.
- Use humor where appropriate. This can be a way to diffuse anything too heavy with your sentiment.
- Relive certain great moments experienced with your colleagues. Recollect fond memories consisting of your successes and failures, that time your boss showed to an external meeting without his notes and had to ad lib (to great comedic effect!), or when your team worked through thick and thin to deliver a quality work product. This is your chance to highlight everything worth remembering, both the good and bad.
- Wish good luck to the colleagues you’re leaving behind. Use the end of your letter to thank a colleague or team and express this luck.
- Reflect thoroughly on the content you choose to include in your farewell letter. Don’t make it look like some drivel anyone could rattle off by going through the motions. Make your words count and show how much your colleagues meant to you.
- Express appreciation for your time spent together.
- When in doubt, use shorter, simple sentences. Try to avoid overly drawn out sentences where your intended meaning could be lost in translation.
- Be positive. Leave a good lasting impression filled with positivity.
- Depending on the target audience, the letter can be either formal or informal.
- Always use correct grammar when drafting your letter. Read the words carefully for flow, grammatical correctness, vocabulary, and other writing mechanics. If it flows well, sometimes reading the letter in reverse can be the best way to review what you’ve written because it breaks the repeated beginning to end read through which might cause you to miss errors.
Don’t Quit Your Job Before You’re Ready
Leaving a job by choice to pursue a better career opportunity makes a lot of sense. However, most people often wait until they must leave a job or organization instead leaving as a result of making the right next step in their careers.
Instead of falling victim to this trap, take a proactive approach to self-evaluate your situation at least annually.
Keep active in your professional network, interview for an interesting job, and keep your skills up to date through professional development courses and opportunities on services like LinkedIn Learning. Doing so will keep you in touch with the market and give you a desirable place in it.
Turning this process into actionable steps, consider asking yourself the following questions about your current job and organization:
→ Is this the job you want or desire to have?
When you accepted the role, it might have looked like a great fit. After time passed, coworkers turned over, responsibilities changed and the pay didn’t keep up, you may want to consider if the job still aligns with your career objectives.
The moment your job turns political or distracts from the reason you accepted the role in the first place, looking elsewhere might behoove you.
If the work group proves problematic but the organization still attracts your interest, changing into another part of the company could be a smart choice.
→ Is this the right organization for you?
Some organizations start out great when you join only to turn downhill after poor business decisions, challenging economic factors, or mismanagement.
If your organization has fundamentally changed since you joined, and not for the better, evaluating your options seems prudent.
→ Does your role position you for the future?
The first two questions examined what external changes have occurred in your role and how you might need to respond. Finally, this question focuses on your personal goals and whether this job puts you on track to achieve them.
If you need help distilling down your core career assets, consider drafting a personal brand statement composed of your key strengths and goals. Highlight what defines you and what you want from your career.
The only person watching out for you, is you. I learned this multiple times in my career when it came to evaluating what made the most sense for my next steps.
Because I proactively sought challenging experiences, surrounded myself with highly competent and engaged team members, and invested in myself through building high-income skills, I always looked out for my next career step. If I didn’t, no one else would.
Therefore, if you have thoughts of gracefully leaving your job, make sure you first take a beat. Do an honest assessment of your work situation.
Do you value your current job beyond just a paycheck? If so, you might look for interesting roles at other organizations. Perhaps the organization proves a source of concern? If so, look for other jobs within your current employer.
Finally, are you truly ready to leave your current employer for your next move? If so, make sure you’ve done a good job nurturing your network to listen for opportunities and built your skills when you hit the market.
How to Write a Touching Farewell Letter to Colleagues
Above all else, you want the touching farewell letter to colleagues to reflect on the relationships you’ve built, the experiences you’ve shared, and the fondness you’ll have for the time spent together. Despite moving along in your life, you want everyone to remember things as they were at their best together.
Doing so requires demonstrating appreciation and offering thanks to those who have helped you come this far in life.
About the Site Author and Blog
In 2018, I was winding down a stint in investor relations and found myself newly equipped with a CPA, added insight on how investors behave in markets, and a load of free time. My job routinely required extended work hours, complex assignments, and tight deadlines. Seeking to maintain my momentum, I wanted to chase something ambitious.
I chose to start this financial independence blog as my next step, recognizing both the challenge and opportunity. I launched the site with encouragement from my wife as a means to lay out our financial independence journey and connect with and help others who share the same goal.
I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed in this post at the time of this writing. Any recommendations made by me are my own. Should you choose to act on them, please see my the disclaimer on my About Young and the Invested page.