In a new policy from my company (non-native English, but English is the corporate language), they use the word "defector" to refer to a person who has tendered their resignation.

I think "defector" has too many and too strong negative connotations around it (some applying to the "defector", but most applying to a company who would call a leaving employee a defector).

"Quitter" doesn't exactly sound great either, and "the person who is about to leave" is a bit long to use at every point where that person is referred to.

So, is there a single word (or very short phrase) for someone who is about to the company that does not have overly negative connotations?

Something akin to "new employee" or "new hire", but for someone who is about to leave.

Example phrase:

"The Defector writes a farewell text and posts it on the intranet"

Example of related phrase (suggestions for alternative to "defection" are also welcome):

"The defection is communicated locally or group wise"

  • 1
    Make your mind up! This question asks variously about "someone who left", "a person who has quit their job", "a leaving employee", and "someone who is about to leave". There's no reason for there to be the same word for all of these, any more than there's one word for someone who's about to die, dying, and already dead.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 14:19
  • Thank you for the feedback Stuart! I agree that the question was very scattered. I have edited it, and I hope it's more consistent now! Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 10:16
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    We say "tendered their resignation" or "resigned", BTW.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


The person could be called the resignee. A person who resigns from a position or job. It meets your requirement of not being "overly negative" and could indeed be thought to be neutral, since people resign for a wide variety of reasons often having nothing to do with dissatisfaction with their current job, or going to work for a competitor (as defector implies), or because of anything related to poor performance. The word is in a register appropriate for a company policy manual.

"The resignee writes a farewell text and posts it on the intranet"

"The resignation is communicated locally or group wise"

  • I like this! I changed the accepted answer to this one, for precisely the reason you mentioned in your comment on Jessica's answer: the employee in this case have tendered their resignation, but is still employed for at least some additional amount of time. Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 14:07
  • (Sadly, since I originally posted my question, the company standard has gone from communicating around the time of resignation, to communicating on the last day. Because I am always behind on my intranet notifications, this means I almost always miss the chance to say goodbye… 😢) Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 14:09

I would refer to someone in this situation as a former employee.

Former referring to something that happened in the past (i.e. the person worked for the company in the past) and employee referring to someone who worked for a salary.

Former employee:

Former is used to describe someone who used to have a particular job, position, or role, but no longer has it.

Reverso Dictionary

This phrase can be dynamic and subject to change, as one could have a former colleague, former boss, and former company (just a few of many other ways to utilize former in this sense)

Former employee tends to have a more positive connotation than defector and can be more personable in conversation, when referring to one who once worked for a company.

For example:

My former employee writes a farewell text and posts it on the intranet

  • 3
    Some companies try to stay in touch with former employees--calling them alumni--depends on the situation. Try workplace.se for more thoughts.@Adrian Schmidt
    – Xanne
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 10:43
  • I was originally gonna say alumni too, but the definition doesn't quite fit the employment situation, as it is more commonly and formally used to refer to one who has graduated an educational program. Commented May 16, 2018 at 11:07
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    @JessicaTiberio Alumni can certainly be used in an employment sense. It was even in the style guide of a company where I used to work—and I added it to technical documentation when crediting the contributions of former employees. Commented May 16, 2018 at 16:56
  • The only quibble I'd have with this answer is that it doesn't really work with OP's sentence: "The _______ writes a farewell text and posts it on the intranet". Former employees generally don't have access to the intranet.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 12:28

I would suggest "Ex-employee" as it's slightly closer to a one word answer.

  • Many examples available in the American press, e.g. Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, LA Times.
    – njuffa
    Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 9:29

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