Condolence Letter to Business Colleague for Lost Job
What to write when a colleague has lost a job?
For any type of loss, including job loss, I recommend you err on the side of kindness and connection, and send a condolence note or email.
Writing a goodbye letter to a coworker can feel awkward. You can overcome this discomfort by communicating authentically that you care in a way that makes both you and your former colleague feel better. So often in business communication, we forget that it’s really human to human connection.
Sending a condolence letter has a variety of benefits. Your colleague will feel acknowledged at a difficult time. You may forge a stronger relationship that will continue long after this event. Your colleague will likely remain in your network, and you may benefit from the connection in the future.
If you’re unsure of how to start, this article will provide you with situation-specific templates and overall do’s and don’ts to help you write this important email.
When you work for the same company, and are still employed, and willing to recommend your colleague:
I was so sad to see your office empty when I returned from my trip.
I know you were hoping to avoid the impending layoffs, so this must be challenging for you. I will so miss your wise insights, energy, and creativity. The office will be far quieter, and less interesting, without you here.
If I can help with a letter of recommendation, referrals, or to just to lend an ear, please know I want to help. Best wishes finding a new position. With your can-do attitude and skills, I have no doubt your job search will be short.
Please let me know how I can help.
To a colleague from another company, with whom you had regular, but superficial contact:
I was so sorry to receive your email message that you are no longer with Federated Company. I will miss our monthly status reports.
Thank you for letting me know your current contact information so we can keep in touch. Best wishes finding a position that matches all your talents. No doubt, there is a lucky company about to hire a very skilled project manager.
To a colleague who leaves under conflict or duress:
David told me this morning you are leaving Federated.
I know the past months have been challenging for you, and I’ve admired your grace and professionalism.
I wish you well. I hope your search is as short as possible.
To a colleague who is terminated and you’re uncertain of what you can offer:
I am sorry to hear that you will be leaving Federated. I will miss your diligence and good humor in the office.
Please let me know if I can provide any assistance during your time of transition. I know how much you’ve contributed to the team, and I am happy to provide support as you pursue the next phase of your career. Please let me know if you’d like to discuss this over coffee or a phone call.
All the best,
There are many reasons why a colleague would be let go, and each scenario should be responded to appropriately. The examples above offer useful templates to guide your email. However, crafting a personal letter tailored to your colleague is the most powerful gesture. For any job loss situation, here are a few do’s and don’ts that are important to consider:
- Do offer to make connections or write a letter of recommendation, if you are willing.
- Do wish your colleague well.
- Do remain professional. Laying blame or making disparaging remarks about anyone inside or outside your company will do little to make your colleague feel better and will reflect poorly on you.
- Do write in a timely manner. There won’t be a ‘right time’ to express your condolences, so the best time to email your colleague is soon after you hear the news.
- Don’t focus on why they lost their job. Whatever the reason, it is now in the past. Frame your letter on the future.
- Don’t mention the poor economy or the fallout from COVID-19. The news is full of this, so you would only be underscoring an obvious worry.
- Don’t minimize their loss. Two recently unemployed friends told me they were very annoyed when people told them, “I’m sure something will appear.” Be truthful. A new job doesn’t just appear. It’s a lot of work, and transition, to find new work.
Job security is tenuous for everyone. Each of us can lose a job, so it’s a smart career move, as well as kind, to reach out when a colleague loses a job. Sadly, each of us can find ourselves in the same position. Reach out to your colleague with the words that you would like to hear if you were in their situation.
Stay connected. Be genuine and thoughtful in your outreach. Extend congratulations when your colleague lands a new job. Your network is an essential element in your career development and for your community. In work as in life, the way you react in tough situations speaks more about your character than how you respond in the good times.
About the author
Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Rhode Island, an M.A. in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.