You’ve accepted a new job, turned in your resignation letter, and packed up your desk. There’s just one more thing to do on your last day of work: the farewell note.
This is the last impression you’re going to leave, so make it a good one.
“The people you worked with are your future connections,” said Patricia Rossi, author of “Everyday Etiquette.” “You don’t want to ghost them.”
Be positive, but short
Your final email should be sincere, thankful and short.
“The key is brevity and gratefulness,” said Rossi. “You want to honor where you were.”
Sprinkle in a few positive recollections of successful projects or fun office memories. But this isn’t the place for a detailed roadmap of your entire career at the company.
“No one wants or has time to read your soliloquy of how fabulous your time was,” said Mary Abbajay, president of business management consulting firm Careerstone Group.
Maintain professional contacts
If you are able, give a little hint about your next move to avoid any gossip or speculation.
You don’t have to give specific details like the name of your new employer. You can be more general by saying something like: “I had the opportunity for a long-term consulting job and I threw my hat in the ring and I am really excited about it,” suggested Rossi.
Be sure to include your contact information at the end of the note. If you aren’t comfortable sharing an email address, a link to your LinkedIn page will suffice.
“Your colleagues are your greatest assets for your professional career,” said Abbajay. “It’s incredibly important to maintain the relationships. You never know when you will need them or they will need you.”
If you are sending the note to a big group, using the BCC option helps avoid any accidental “reply all” situations and protects the privacy of your recipients.
When you send the note is up to you. Sending it days ahead of your last day could make it hard to finish up your work if people keep stopping by to wish you luck, or create some awkward interactions if you keep running into people who have already said their goodbyes.
Many people choose to send the note just before they walk out the door, but that means you might miss any replies if you don’t have access to your work email anymore. You can send the note from your personal email, but there is the risk that it could end up in people’s spam folders. Adding your name in the subject line can avoid it getting overlooked, recommended Abbajay.
“Professional emails from personal accounts should also sound and feel professional.”
Give extra credit where it’s due
There are going to be some people who had a bigger impact on your career, and they should get a separate note of gratitude.
These more personal notes can be handwritten or via email, and should be more thoughtful.
“It should be meaningful and sincere — the more specific you can be shows you put some thought into it,” said Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works.
Don’t forget to follow up
Remember that maintaining relationships is a two-way street. Once you get settled into your new job, reach out to your colleagues to give them an update and see how they are doing.
After all, previous bosses tend to make good professional references so it’s in your best interest to keep in touch with them.
Be gracious, even under pressure
Even if you are being asked to leave, it’s still a good idea to send a note.
But Zabriskie suggested leaving out the sappy stuff.
A quick email along the lines of “I enjoyed working with everyone, and I look forward to keeping in touch as I move on to the next phase of my career,” should do the trick.
And while it might be tempting to call out a bad manager or refute the reason you were fired, resist.
“It’s important to close out the chapter with dignity and in a way that is professional. A lot of people make bad choices and burn bridges,” said Zabriskie.
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