Think Before You Hit Send On Your Goodbye Email

English: email envelope

Is it worth sending that goodbye email?

I think that email is one of the more overused forms of communication.  There are a lot of times that email just is not appropriate.  For me personally, I think that one of those inappropriate times is when you are changing jobs.  I am not a big fan of the goodbye email.

In this age of downsizing and job hopping there are more opportunities to send a goodbye email than ever before.  The funny thing is that there do not seem to be any hard and fast rules for the goodbye email.

I have seen a lot of versions of the goodbye email.  There are a few common types of goodbye emails that I have seen over the years:

  1.  The Positively Fictional Goodbye:  This is the email that you get from the guy that you know absolutely hated the company.  From the day he started he has complained about everything.  On his last day, he sends out a note expressing how wonderful the experience has been and how much he will miss everyone.  If you were truly miserable at a company then do not send out an email expressing how great the experience was.  It comes off as fake and insincere.  A kind word on your final day will not make up for years of you complaining.
  2. The Parting Shot Goodbye:  These are perhaps the most entertaining of all of the goodbye emails, but they do far more harm than good in my opinion.  These are the notes where the soon to be departed takes a shot or several shots at management.  Sometimes the shot is covert and you have to look for the hidden meaning in the words, but most times it is far more overt.  What is the point of expressing your frustrations with management in an email to all of you coworkers on your last day?  In the best case scenario, what good do you think will come of it?  You gave the appropriate notice, you continued working diligently until your last day, and then you throw it all away by sending out your parting shot goodbye.  Hope that new job works out because you certainly will not be able to come back to your old job or use anyone from the company as a reference on your next job hunt. 
  3. The Mass Goodbye:  This is a short and professional email, lacking any emotion that gets blasted to everyone in the company.  If your company has less than ten people, then maybe this is appropriate, but if you work in a large corporation then it is unlikely that everyone is going to care that you are leaving.  Many of the people you are going to send this too are simply going to delete it without even reading it.  What’s the point?

I am not against saying goodbye, but if you really want to do right then personalize it.  My personal preference would be to make a list of everyone I need to say goodbye to and then make time on my calendar to either speak to them in person or call them.  As a last resort I would send an email, but if I did it would be personalized and sent to only one person. 

If someone is not worth you taking two minutes to say goodbye to, then you probably don’t need to say anything to them before you leave. 

People tend to get bold and stupid when they are sending emails.  They are much more confident than they would be if they were face to face.  That confidence can you to send a poorly thought out email on your final day.  Once it is out there, you can’t get it back. 


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