Your Career: How to Say Goodbye

Nyc wave goodbye

Waving Goodbye

There are few things that are more important than first impressions (that tagline: “You only have one chance to make a great first impression“), the time in-between, and leaving that lasting impression by how you say goodbye.

People can forget at times a lot of bumpiness in that in-between period if the bookend hello and goodbyes are done well. Screw that goodbye up though and the memory of your in-between bumpiness will remain forever.

One of the pieces of advice I give clients is to make yourself easy to find. Unless you’re wanted for embezzlement, you want to make it easy to contact you after you’ve left; somebody just may have the role of your dreams that they want to discuss with you. If they can’t find you, that job goes to someone else.

When you do say goodbye that piece of communication has three, sometimes four elements:

  1. I’m leaving as of such and such date.
  2. Thank you for the time together together.
  3. Here’s my personal contact information if you need to reach me.
  4. Here’s where I’m going. (Optional)

#4 is optional because sometimes you don’t want people to know until you land wherever you’re going, and sometimes you’re not sure where you’re going. Regardless, once you end up wherever you’re going you should send out a note letting people know your new work contact details.

Pretty easy-peasy. Except that most people don’t do it.

Unless you’re someone like my former Barclays Global Investors (now owned by BlackRock) colleague Mike Schmitt.

Here’s Mike’s goodbye note from yesterday;  it’s about as good as they get.

“All – today’s my last day with BlackRock.  I will be taking a bit of time off before moving back east to start a new role in January.

I joined the firm in 2005, and in the last five years it has been a distinct privilege working with some of the best and brightest in the financial services/asset management industry.  Thanks to all of you for making my time here the most entertaining and educational I’ve yet been fortunate enough to experience.

Please do stay in touch – xxxx@xxxx.com or +1 415 XXX XXXX.

It’s been quite a ride.  Cheers all.

Mike”

Knowing Mike he’ll follow-up in January with a new note letting folks know his contact vitals at the new job. For Mike, like some of us, keeping in touch is critical for friendships and for careers. For nurturing that career network, staying in touch is not just critical, but it’s essential.

In the end, perhaps, you never really can say goodbye.


Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

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