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How to Say Bye to Colleagues While Leaving a Company

by Ellie Williams, studioD

Whether you’re leaving your current job by choice or because you’ve been let go, handle your exit with tact and grace. While you may want nothing more than to leave your workplace behind, your reputation and relationships will fare better if you take time to craft a sincere, upbeat farewell.


Don’t announce your departure until you’ve finalized arrangements with your new boss and your current employer. You don’t want to risk making a point of your exit only to have your new position fall through. In addition, some employers prefer to wait until they’ve negotiated severance or established who will take over your duties until they can hire a replacement. Your new employer may want you to wait until they’ve made announcements at their own company. Before you say goodbye to colleagues, ask your current and new employers whether they’re comfortable with you making it official.

Keep it Professional

Now is not the time to criticize your boss, the company or your co-workers. It’s also not the time to air your grievances and list every reason that prompted you to leave the company. If you were fired or laid off, don’t dwell on the fact that you’re not leaving by choice. Your farewell is the last impression your colleagues will have of you, and if you come across as bitter, resentful or immature, this will damage your professional reputation and your relationship with your colleagues. You may have to interact with them in the future, especially if you stay in the same industry or if you end up working with them at another company.

Focus on the Positive

Concentrate on what you enjoyed most about working at the company or what you learned during your time there. Mention specific projects you worked on, qualities you appreciated about the company and its employees or specific tasks you found fulfilling. For example, note that you’ll miss the camaraderie or the opportunity to contribute to the company’s groundbreaking work. Or describe how your experiences there have helped you grow personally and professionally. Also, discuss what you’re looking forward to about the future, whether that’s a new job or the opportunity to explore your interests.

Personal vs. Mass Goodbyes

If you’re well-known throughout the company or hold a high-ranking position, you may want to write an email or letter to send to the entire team. This is especially true if you routinely interact with much of the staff or if your job impacts employees at multiple levels. For people you have a close working relationship with, you might want to consider individual farewell letters or emails. They might feel slighted if they have to hear the news from someone else. For an even more personal touch, ask these colleagues to join you for lunch, either individually or as a group.

About the Author

Ellie Williams has been a journalist since 2001. Her work has been recognized by her state's press association and by her local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Williams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and humanities, with minors in French and theater.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images