How to Write a Farewell Email

by Keith Evans; Updated September 26, 2017
...

As employees move from job to job or advance in their careers, they often feel the need to send a final email expressing some parting sentiments to their former coworkers. Many of these emails come across as mundane, though, and leave little or no impression on colleagues. Employees can use a few tricks to spice up a farewell email and say goodbye with both style and professionalism.

Use a Catchy Introduction

The business website Mergers and Inquisitions laments that most employee farewell emails begin with a mundane, predictable introduction that leaves recipients uninterested. The site recommends that authors use a catchy but professional introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and leads the recipient to read more of the message. Departing employees should not go so far as to air grievances or bash the company in the introduction, though, as an unprofessional intro can burn bridges and make a future return to the employer more challenging. The writing website Write Express also notes that the introduction serves the purpose of confirming any rumors of the employee’s departure, so some verbiage confirming the purpose of the email belongs in the first few sentences.

Express Appreciation

Employees writing a farewell email have one last opportunity to express appreciation for lessons learned, friendships made and many other positive aspects of their former positions. Write Express recommends using the email to thank former colleagues for their support, kindness and assistance, and authors should make a point to specifically mention anyone who has made a significant contribution to the sender’s development. The New York Times also cited an example of a farewell email in which the author thanked the recipients for some very specific contributions, but some authors may prefer to keep such contributions vague.

Reminisce

The farewell email that the New York Times cited also went on to recall some of the author’s favorite memories of working with the company. Reminiscing about specific memories that involved several colleagues can help solidify the bond formed between coworkers, and this bond both enhances the departing employee’s ties with the department and helps build camaraderie among remaining workers. Senders should be careful when recalling memories from events outside the office, though, as some personal adventures have no place in a business email. The Mergers and Inquisitions website recommends limiting memories to professional endeavors from inside the workplace, though some employees may prefer to send a separate, more private email to close friends lamenting a different set of experiences.

Close on a High Note

Writing experts at Write Express note that a farewell email should end on an optimistic note, possibly reiterating some positive memories or expressing hopes for the future. The site cautions departing employees to refrain from offering to keep in touch unless they really do want to maintain contact. Those who do wish to stay in communication with former colleagues should provide appropriate email or social network information in the email’s closing lines.

About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images