How to Write the Perfect Farewell Letter

Larry Barkdull
Award-Winning, Nationally Recognized Writer

Maybe you are leaving a job and want to say goodbye to your co-workers. Perhaps you are moving and want to say farewell to your friends and neighbors. This article will give you the information you need to write an effective farewell letter. Below are a few essential points to include in your letter.

The perfect Farewell Letter consists of several essential components:

  • Address the reader in friendly terms. Use the same form of address that you use when you are speaking to him/her in person. With a neighbor or co-worker, start your letter with an informal salutation such as "Dear Jack," followed by a comma.
  • Announcement. Begin by announcing or confirming your departure. Depending on the circumstance and without going into too much detail, you may want to explain your difficulty in making this decision. If you are leaving your job and another person is replacing you, say something complimentary about him or her—not only to be professional, but also to help give that person a good start and to leave a final, positive memory of you.
  • Gratitude. Express your thanks for your association with the people you are leaving and for their kindness, love, support, friendship, etc.
  • Memories. Depending upon the reason for your departure, you could recall one or more of the good times you've had together.
  • Final Thoughts. The end of your farewell letter should express your best wishes for the future of everyone you are leaving. Repeat how much you value this friendship or association. Close on a positive or even humorous note. You may want to say that you want to keep in touch, but avoid overused phrases such as, "Let's keep in touch." If you really want to keep in touch, leave your new address or new email address (if changed) and make a clear invitation to continue communication.

    Examples: "I'll write as soon as we get settled and I hope to hear from you, too." "Send me an email and let me know how you're doing."

  • Close. Skip two returns after your last paragraph, and type a close such as "Sincerely," followed by four single returns, then type your name. In the space between the close and your typed name, sign your name with a black pen.

    Note: You can adapt this outline to writing a farewell letter to a variety of situations. Here are a few examples and additional tips:

To a person who is leaving

Write this letter personally to an employee, co-worker, boss, or valued client who is leaving. Focus on your positive memories of the relationship. If the person is leaving due to adverse circumstances, try to put yourself in the same position and imagine how he/she is feeling and respond accordingly.

To your boss, management, or co-workers

Write this letter if you are leaving your job. This letter focuses on your positive relationship and one or two happy memories that you have shared. It should end with expressions of goodwill and best wishes for the future. This is not a letter of resignation. For suggestions that will help you write the perfect letter of resignation, go to Resigning your way to success...your ticket to good references for future jobs.

For an employee's retirement

If you are an employer, address this letter to your staff, announcing the retirement of one of your employees. Be sure to list one or more of his/her significant contributions and that the employee's retirement will be a loss to the company. Avoid mentioning any past problems here. End with well wishes for the employee's future.

For your retirement

Typically, an employer only announces an employee's retirement. Depending on the circumstances, you may desire to write a separate letter to select individuals announcing your retirement. You can use your letter to announce your immediate plans, express your appreciation and affection for all the associations you formed in the workplace, and to welcome the person who is taking your place.

To a co-worker who is retiring

Write this letter to a colleague who is retiring. Focus on how much you value the relationship. Recall one or more positive, mutual experiences that you shared at work. Express congratulations and best wishes for the future.