Supportive email response to an ex-employee?
November 25, 2009 10:24 AM   Subscribe

What's the best response to a "I'm no longer with the company / Here's my new contact info" email when you're an outsider not working at said company.

I just got a "I'm no longer with the company / Here's my new contact info" but I'm not sure what the correct response is.

I did some freelance work for the company in the past, including working directly with the ex-employee. It was a positive working experience and he was kind to me, although I didn't have enough contact to really consider him a friend. I worked completely at home and was never in the office building except for a couple meetings.

The new contact email is a personal email account, so presumably he was let go due to budget cut backs and isn't at a new company yet.

I'm always outside the corporate structure, so I don't know quite what the normal response is. I mean, if I was a co-worker I guess I'd be able to stop by his office and commiserate and be a good friend in that way.

I guess my questions are:

1) For the ex-employee is this email purely informational so any response would be annoying, especially at a time when they're probably reeling from being let go right before Thanksgiving? Or would not replying appear like I was only a "fair weather friend" when he could help me?

2) If I send an email response, what should it be? Anything I can think of sounds depressing ("I'm sorry to hear..."), annoyingly optimistic ("I know you'll land someplace else soon"), or just self serving ("Oh, no! I was looking forward to working with you on another project...")

I know I'm over thinking this and it should be a quick one or two line email but I'm completely stuck.
posted by sharkfu to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Thank you for sending me your new info; I have updated my address book. I enjoyed working with you, and I wish you all the best in the future."
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

He's sending it to everyone in his address book. Just update your files.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2009 [8 favorites]

Sounds like he's trying to network and keep contacts alive, which is a great first line of attack when you're between jobs. Maybe something good of it will come for you, too, if you keep that connection alive.
posted by softsantear at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2009

He's keeping all his options open and bridges clear for his job hunt. Unless you know of a job opportunity, he probably doesn't care if you answer.
posted by itsonreserve at 10:33 AM on November 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, as much as he probably WAS let go due to budget cuts, that's (apparently) not clear here, so you should definitely refrain from speculating until he volunteers the information himself.

If you're looking forward to working with him again in some capacity, go ahead and say so.

And it's never inappropriate to wish him luck in his future endeavors, or whatever the less formal version of that is.

Whatever the circumstance, hearing something positive will surely be a boost to him (just because he's sending it to the whole address book doesn't mean that he won't appreciate a response, especially when he needs to keep networking), and maybe you can go from there to set up drinks or similar for later.
posted by Madamina at 10:34 AM on November 25, 2009

If he shotgunned it out to all his contacts and the message is not personal, I'm not sure a response is necessarily required, but a quick "thanks for the update; good luck / all the best" email never hurts.

When I worked at a big multinational, I used to get these things almost weekly, and often they were from people I knew only peripherally. I'd usually try to stop by their office and say goodbye as well as shooting them a quick good luck message and updating my address book.

Sometimes it was my cue to move someone from my work addressbook to my personal one, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:37 AM on November 25, 2009

Network, network network. The best jobs/opportunities/contracts are often found directly, not via any intermediary.

Add to your address book if you feel that at some future time you/person may be useful to each other.
posted by jkaczor at 10:45 AM on November 25, 2009

I received a puzzling email recently, in which a former colleague announced he was leaving his organization for "personal and professional" reasons. This could mean anything from he was laid off to a family member is gravely ill and he is relocating to deal with that to he secured a great new position in a different city.

Accordingly I responded with a vague "Good luck in all your future endeavors and please stay in touch."
posted by dfriedman at 10:52 AM on November 25, 2009

I've sent out a similar emails when I left jobs of my own volition--it's just networking.

No response is expected, so just update your address book and leave it at that, unless you want to respond, in which case runningwithscissors and madamina got it right. Definitely don't respond with condolences or reassurances of future stuff to come unless you know for sure the situation--that could wind up being really awkward.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2009

when i sent these things out to people, i appreciated a reply from at least a few folks. so since you say it was a positive experience working with him, just shoot him an email that says "thanks for the update, good luck in the future, hope we get to work together again". and then add his new info to your files. never know when there might be a project you can work on together.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:43 AM on November 25, 2009

If he, and you, are on LinkedIn consider adding a recommendation to his profile.
posted by IanMorr at 12:20 PM on November 25, 2009

If you don't return it, he'll never even notice.

If you do return it, on the other hand, both you and he have established a networking connection. Perhaps you have some idea of where he might land. Perhaps he might be able to help you in the future. This is all a good thing.

Be brief, friendly and don't make assumptions. Unless you have a genuine job prospect for him -- in which case, be brief, friendly and ask if he's looking for something new or already has something lined up.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:36 PM on November 25, 2009

If you'd like to help him out a little and have a LinkedIn account then I would second the idea of using that. If you want to be explicit you could send a recommendation for him - however simply adding him as a contact can be useful.

This is because if he finds himself working as a freelancer it is quite common for prospective clients to check out his profile. Somebody who has a number of listed contacts from wherever they claim to have worked can provide a degree of credibility.
posted by rongorongo at 3:10 PM on November 25, 2009

I would write to him to say, "Thanks for the update. I hope we can (work together) (do a project) again in the future." I would hold off of any "Good luck, etc." messages until you know his circumstances.
posted by Old Geezer at 9:31 PM on November 25, 2009

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