Millions of people leave their jobs every year. Few of them write memorable good-bye emails—at least not ones that are remembered positively.
What makes a good leaving note? It’s probably brief, to the point, and quick to be deleted. There are a few essentials—date of last day, future contact information, and a general thank you or sentiment that it’s been a pleasure or good experience.
While the guidelines for how to do it are few, there are numerous guidelines for how not to write one.
First, no ranting or profanity. Even if you have been looking for a new job since your first week at your current one, even if you have been fired or downsized, resist the attempt to say negative things about the company, your boss, human resources, or your coworkers. Ranting may feel great for a few minutes, but most people regret it as soon as they hit send.
Many good-bye notes lean toward the emotional. Avoid over-emoting. Don’t use religious quotes, inspirational quotes, song lyrics, or rhymes. Avoid all insider jokes and cutesy graphics. Most importantly, don’t include an emoticon or a funny picture of yourself.
Your final email does not need a great deal of personal information. A forwarding work email address should be sufficient. Human resources may need some additional information, and your close colleagues already know how to reach you. You will find that, in general, once you leave, they really won’t need to be in touch.
Choose the recipients of your email carefully. There often is a company policy about which vendors or clients can, or should, be contacted, and who should do that, and what may be said. Don’t try and circumvent the policy. Even if you feel certain that the company will close without you (it won’t), don’t try to sway clients or make your employer out to be the bad guy.
Finally, once you have composed your (short and professional) final email, let it sit for a few hours. Read it one time before sending. Then put the old job behind you and move on. Life is too short for long good-byes, and most people hate them anyway.