Tips for saying goodbye to your colleagues when you get another job
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Saying good-bye to colleagues can be awkward, especially when you’re leaving for a better gig.
The subject lines are always the same: “Moving on;” “bitter sweet news;” or the optimistic yet vague “I’m on to the next adventure.” There are a million generic ways to say you’re on to bigger and better without disclosing exactly where you’re headed.
“Briefly explain that you’re leaving,” New York City-based career coach Roy Cohen tells Moneyish. “Depending on your relationship with the company, you may want to include a heartfelt message of things you enjoyed or aspects of the job you’ll miss.”
If you’re going to a competitor, you don’t want to ruffle any feathers by name dropping the new company in your memo, save that for an in person conversation. And if you’re simply getting a promotion or more money somewhere else, you don’t want to offend colleagues by saying you’re moving up. So keep it short and sweet.
“It should be very simple: “Thank you, it’s been an extraordinary experience for a number of reasons,” Cohen suggests.
Even if you were counting down the days until your two weeks notice, like Jersey City producer Rebecca Falborne, it’s still good form to send a good-bye note.
“It’s hard to be like, ‘I’m going to miss everyone when I’m really like, ‘I can’t wait to get the f—k out of here,’” Falborne tells Moneyish.
Falborne, 27, left her job at an advertising agency six months ago after being fed up with doing too many tasks that weren’t in her job description, which originally consisted of approving budgets for commercials and negotiating talent contracts.
“I felt like I was drowning in work and it wasn’t fair. I was told I was going to be doing one thing, and it ended up being a lot different responsibilities without any training involved,” says Falborne, who stuck it out for 12 months and left one year later on the dot to find a better gig at a post-production studio. “There were parts of my job that I liked, but there were more cons than pros.”
While she didn’t leave on a bad note, she professionally pointed out what went wrong, starting the memo to her managers with a snarky, “It’s been quite the journey.” She was sure to send a separate message to colleagues she liked and wished to stay in touch with the more friendly subject line, “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”
But a move like that could be risky — no matter how much you hated your job. Cohen says it’s important not to use your send off email as a platform to roast the company or particular individuals who weren’t exactly a pleasure to work with.
“The purpose of sending out a memo to staff in your network is to notify them that you’re leaving the job. In the subject line keep it simple with something like “Moving on” or “Departure,” Cohen says.
“Our career and relationships will extend far beyond leaving one organization and going on to another. There’s always a benefit to maintaining relationships and a positive impression with people you worked with.”
Here is the best way to say good-bye in these workplace scenarios:
If you hated the company:
If you truly hated the experience, don’t send an email.
“Better left unsaid and unsent,” says Cohen.
Even if the job was really oppressive, it’s more appropriate to reach out to HR privately in an exit interview rather than rattling off what went wrong in a mass email, Cohen advises.
“It may feel good to vent, but in the long term you tarnish your reputation just a tiny bit because it’s going to leave people with a bad memory of you. If you harbor any resentment or anger, share it with friends but don’t make it part of your exit email.”
If you’re going to the competitor:
Less is more, especially when you’re going to work for a rival company. Keep the message short and sweet without giving too much information.
“Don’t say where you’re going. Talk about how much you appreciate being at this company. You can talk about keeping in touch. It’s better to have people ask you if they’re interested,” says Cohen.
Try prefacing the email with “this is a difficult email for me to send,” and state that you made a decision to accept “a new opportunity” that you’re very excited about. If you share you’re going to work for a competitor, it may upset some.
“In a broader sense, you don’t want to make other people feel bad because they’re stuck in their jobs that you’re telling people you escaped from.”
If you’re changing careers:
If it’s a dramatic career change, it’s perfectly fine to share ample information about inspiration behind the switch, where you’re going and how to stay in touch.
“You have an incentive to tell people what and where,” says Cohen.
Start the email off by saying how excited you are for the career change.
“This is where you share a lot of info about this next chapter,” Cohen explains.
If you decided to take a sabbatical:
If you’re temporarily taking a break from your job or industry with intentions of returning, it’s always good to over share and leave your contact information so you can eventually pick up where you left off.
“You’re planting seeds so that people remember you and can serve as references later. You’re giving them info that will be valuable later on,” says Cohen.
If you’ve been laid off:
Having to leave a job involuntarily can be devastating, especially if it’s a company you love. In this case, a good-bye memo is crucial to maintain contacts that can be helpful references when interviewing at a new workplace.
Start an email with something like, “As you all know, I’m in the process of leaving or have recently left,” and continue to show gratitude for the work experience and opportunities. Be sure to express you’d like to remain in contact.
“The whole purpose here is that you’re smoothing over the separation and you are establishing people who will serve as reliable references for you,” says Cohen.
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