Burning the Bridge: 4 Don’t When Leaving Your Job

by Kay Lynn

It would be hard to find a person who hasn’t had the urge to say “take this job and ___ it” at some point in their career.  Most of us are able to resist and resign appropriately.  There are some some pretty infamous examples of those who couldn’t.

Remember the flight attendant who jumped out of the plane on the emergency chute?   Not only did he lose his job, but ended up with criminal charges and a big fine.  While most of us don’t go out so dramatically, many make fatal mistakes when leaving the job.

Here are four ways to ensure you’ll never get hired back let alone a good reference.

Don’t Give Notice

I’ve seen a lot of different techniques to quit without giving the company warning.  The methodology ranges from not returning from lunch to yelling “I quit” in a shouting match with the manager.

Alternative: It’s important to honor any contractual notice requirements, but if there aren’t any give at least two weeks notice.  Stranding your boss without time to prepare for your exit is unprofessional.

Don’t Blame Co-Workers

Going after those left behind is not going to win you any friends.  I knew an employee who blamed others for her performance which led to being let go.  She was out of sight of Human Resources long enough to hit the mail room and leave mean notes.

Alternative: If you really are leaving because of the other employees, take the high road and just be glad you’re not having to work with them anymore.

Don’t Bad Mouth the Company

At gatherings with current employees of the company be discreet.  Anything you say about your former (or soon to be) employer will get back to management.

It isn’t a good practice to badmouth past or current employers during interviews.  The prospective employer wonders if you’re a bad risk and may not want to take it.  Don’t raise that red flag!

Alternative: Accentuate the positive; you’re leaving for more opportunity and growth.

Don’t Send Negative Parting Emails

Some people have a hard time resisting a chance to get the last word in.  If your employer hasn’t cut your email off before you leave, do not send a parting email with more than thanks and good wishes.   You’ll be glad in the long run you did!

Have you ever left a job badly or know someone who did?  How did that go?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr Dean November 18, 2011 at 8:04 am

Great tips!

it is amazin to me how many people burn bridges needlessly and come crawling back eating crow down the road!

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shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet November 18, 2011 at 9:01 am

I used to work with a guy who constantly threatened to just walk out. There were certainly days when I (and the rest of our team) wished he would.
There are reasons besides not burning bridges to make sure you give your notice. At my company, if there’s no notice given, you don’t get your PTO payout, and we have a flag about whether the company should hire you again. HR looks at that flag when giving references…

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krantcents November 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Good advice! I learned the largest industries are really very small. Mistakes or a bad reputation will get around very quickly.

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Lisa @ Cents To Save November 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Oh,,, When I was younger, I did quit without notice. Unless you count a phone call to tell them I was not coming in as notice. But, with age comes wisdom and you do learn how to behave in a work environment. Even if you “hate” your job, it pays to play the game.

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20's Finances November 19, 2011 at 5:56 am

I had a job that I wanted to yell at my boss… but was able to resist and gave 3 weeks notice (because I was transferring depts.). It didn’t feel as good, but you’re right, it’s the responsible thing to do.

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom November 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Great tips. You always want to try to the best of your ability to leave on good terms. You not only want that person as a potential reference, but you don’t want THEM spreading bad things about you. What goes around comes around!

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Bret @ Hope to Prosper November 20, 2011 at 10:57 am

I quit my last job and it felt good. They were very unprofessional, to the point of berating me and other employees in front of everyone. I took the high road and typed up a letter of resignation. Even if the boss or coworkers are unprofessional, you can rise above that and maintain some dignity. It will definitely pay off over the course of your career.

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