Resigning Without Burning Your Bridges

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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Resigning Without Burning Your Bridges

by Kevin T. Buckley, CPC



Resigning without burning your bridges

You've found a new direction and are eagerly anticipating your new career move. How do you say good-bye and keep it positive?

Here’s where your diplomatic skills come into play. Your goal is to leave with as much goodwill as possible. You need to maintain cordial relations because in the future, you may require good references.

Even if you have been in a negative working environment and your superior has put pressure on you or made your life miserable, you need to leave with a measure of grace.

You need to remember that your superior is under pressure when you announce your intention to leave. Your replacement needs to be found. Your decision increases your superior’s workload and usually requires immediate attention and action.

If you have followed normal standards of courtesy, you have tendered a written letter of resignation and provided the customary 2 weeks notice. Avoid the temptation to just up and quit. Show consideration but don’t allow yourself to be persuaded to delay your departure either. Two weeks is the accepted standard at all levels of seniority.

If you have been in your present job less than 6 months, one week’s notice is sufficient.

You will damage goodwill if you depart suddenly, leaving your department, your colleagues and your superior in the lurch. They will remember that you left them scrambling and this information could circulate to suppliers and perhaps present or potential customers. This may negatively affect how your new employer views you and your industry reputation. As recruiters, we have numerous examples of people whose careers were influenced by the way they decided to resign and take up new employment.

Choose to act, speak and conduct yourself as if you were already at your new company. Keep in mind that the discomfort is only for a short time and that better days are ahead.

Some employers do take a resignation personally. The camaraderie that you enjoyed may be replaced by frosty silences, or your superior may try to make you feel guilty about deserting the team. You cannot predict how your resignation is going to be received. You can take your cue however from how other people were treated who left, and prepare yourself accordingly.

Once you have resigned and you are counting down the days to the start of your new job, keep the discussions in the office neutral and pleasant. We often hear of people making the mistake of talking about work conditions, their boss or their coworkers with other colleagues, suppliers and customers. Good judgment will suggest that you avoid bashing the company or your boss or offering unflattering observations. These comments may come back to haunt you. When you have left, there is nothing to prevent coworkers from indulging in a little office gossip. If you have spoken negatively, your words may be remembered and discussed after you are gone.

Be helpful in wrapping up loose ends and bringing files and data up to date. Your assistance in making a smooth transition is a powerful reason for your superior to offer positive support. Leaving behind grateful colleagues and superiors will benefit you in the future.

If you are asked to participate in an exit interview and are asked your opinion of how the company, department or management in particular can improve, keep it professional. This is not the time to be subjective and tell everyone exactly how you feel. Airing personality conflicts and speaking in derogative terms about colleagues with the interviewer may provide some satisfaction but it can make you look petty and vindictive.



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