Don’t Burn Bridges: Best Practices for Leaving Your Job

Once you decide to leave your job, you need to be careful of how you manage your relationships with your supervisor and co-workers in your final weeks. If you alienate your former colleagues, you risk getting bad references as you apply for new jobs.

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Here are some best practices for leaving your job without burning bridges.

Give Proper Notice

First, give your boss sufficient warning – usually two weeks or more – when you decide you’re leaving so they have time to prepare and make adjustments. It takes that much time for everyone to get used to the idea that you’re leaving and figure out their next steps. Will they hire a replacement or restructure their personnel? These are all important questions your supervisors will be reviewing first after you give your notice.

Tell Your Boss in Person

A text or email might be easier than an in-person confrontation, but it’s more courteous and professional to tell your boss in person. You don’t have to pour out your whole life story or even explain your future plans. At the very least, politely let them know when you plan to leave, what your future plans might be and thank them for giving you the opportunity you have had.

Write a Resignation Letter

You already told your boss in person, but it helps to write a formal resignation letter that you can send to your boss and to human resources. Be proactive and have one ready if your boss asks for one. Keep your letter brief and professional. State the date you plan to work your last day, as well as a short overview of what you told your boss when giving notice.

Stay Positive

Don’t turn your two-week notice into a gripe session. You probably have some complaints, but unless those involve constructive criticism, this is not the conversation to air those grievances. You’ll still be asking your employer for a reference and to verify your employment history. Stay positive so they keep their best memories of you top-of-mind.

Offer to Help

They might not take you up on it, but always offer to help with the transition. They might want you to finish a project, train a new employee or educate some of your coworkers in your daily tasks or duties you have taken on that might fall through the cracks after you leave. Just be eager to help out in whatever way is needed in your time left at the company.

Stay in Touch with Your Coworkers

Think about sending goodbye emails to your colleagues. They can be simple and cordial, but it’s a good idea because you never know when you’ll see these people again in the business world. They might even be contacted for a reference when you’re being hired for a job sometime in the future.

You never know when you may be called upon to use a previous employer or coworker as a reference for a new job. Even if your past experience was less than perfect, it’s very likely you learned something new that has advanced your career. Being gracious and avoid confrontation when it comes time to take your leave goes a long way!

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