You got a job offer and just came out of your manager’s office where you resigned. It feels good to have that difficult step behind you, doesn’t it. The next 2 weeks will be a breeze and then it is all over. But have you put any thought behind how you will be remembered at work? Will you leave on good terms or will you burn bridges?
I come straight to the point here. When leaving a job no matter what your reason behind your resignation is, burning bridges is a bad thing to do. There are 2 reasons that stick out why you should not do it. No matter how good your work for the company has been, by burning bridges you will destroy your entire reputation. Even if you literally saved the company from going under, all people will remember is that disgruntled employee that “burned bridges” when leaving. The second main reason is that it could backfire dramatically if you leave disgruntled. Word travels fast and when you least expect it, those last 2 weeks at a job can show up years later and make it difficult to get what you want in that moment. Here is an example where burning bridges will backfire.
You leave a job as a disgruntled employee. Your spilling it all out before you leave. Main reason why you leave is the current management and how they treated you. Overall you liked the company a lot and had some good years with them, but under the current circumstances you just want out and you want everyone to know why and you want to damage the company (without officially saying so). If more people would leave, you would be really happy. 2 years go by and at your old company things dramatically change and things turn around. The old company does financially very well and employees love working there. Your new job is going downhill and you are out looking for a new gig. You still have friends at the old company and you hear how good things are there now. Then you hear about a position opening up that fits your skills very well. You consider applying for it since the old management is gone, but your application gets ignored, nobody calls you back for an interview. The way how you left the company 2 years ago is not forgotten and you are paying the price for it now (2 years later). You are not going to get that great job.
The above is a prime example where leaving a job in anger can backfire in a way you might have never expected.
I once resigned from a position at a company that I really liked. I was not happy with my lazy co-worker who was on my team. Our manager was good friend with him and so my peer always had the better end when it came to get exciting projects assigned or when it came to getting the bigger raise even though I was doing the better job. I found a better job with a different company and resigned, but I made it a habit to perform to the best until the very last day of my last 2 weeks. During the exit interview I friendly “reminded” to definitely come back in case the new job would not work out and that I would be fully eligible to carry on any seniority that I had when I resigned – including the increased number of vacation that I had due to being with the company for 7 years already. The company that I left was not bad and so I would definitely consider this if I wanted to work for them ever again.
Above I mentioned 2 main reason why not to burn bridges. Here is a second example why not to leave a job with bridges being burned.
You never know who talks to whom and who good friend with whom is. Even in large cities you will be surprised how fast word about an individual can travel. Networking groups as an example are places where a lot of information is being exchanged. Imagine HR professionals in the same networking group talking to each other. Your reputation could carry over easily from one company to another and eventually harm your career at the new place. Now imagine that if you would have left on best terms and the same 2 HR professionals talk to each other – it could actually accelerate your career. Or replace the HR professionals with other professions/professionals in a different networking group and consider the outcome depending on how someone talks about you.
Here is another example from my own career. I had worked at this financial company for just a few months and the job really sucked. Long hours, very disorganized environment and a lot of other things not the way they should be. I started to look for a new job and a few months later I had secured an offer from another company. I resigned and gave my 2 weeks’ notice. I made it a point not to burn bridges and even though I gave honest feedback in my exit interview, I was polite and respectful and provided feedback in a way that the company could actually use and in a way that it would not hurt my reputation. You could say I left the door open for the case I would ever work there again (which I would never do, but it is not a bad move to do it that way).
So, to come to an end, it is extremely important to consider your actions when leaving a job. Even if you do not like a job, a company, or a manager – how you deal with it before leaving that company could be remembered even years after. It could shape your entire future depending on how things turn out. Keeping it together for 2 more weeks is not that hard. But it is your decision how you will be remembered at a company.