One of the more important things you learn as you move up the career ladder is that it has all kinds of crazy switchbacks putting you back in contact with the people you used to work with. This is particularly true when you stay in the same industry, but it happens for all of us no matter where we move in our job path. Think of all the “old friends” you have on Facebook and you’ll see what I mean. Who knew you’d be in contact again?
Burning Bridges Usually Is A Bad Idea
It’s very tempting to tell an annoying co-worker or aggravating boss exactly what you think of them when you hand in your resignation. After all, you are quitting so you don’t have to live with the consequences, right?
These are the people who give you references, and who will be talking about you in the months ahead. Nowadays that gossip goes online in moments and is there for a potential employer to find. We all have to work on reputation management, when you think about it. So what should you do instead when you have been looking for another job and finally can move out of your old one?
Leave Your Connections Intact
You can’t make everybody like you, but you can be responsible and professional up to the end of the job. Many ask how much notice should be given when leaving a job. The standard two weeks notice is probably the best idea. One young professional had been looking for a new position with her manager’s encouragement since attempts to move up in the company continually fizzled. When offered a position in a new field, she was asked if she could start right away. This is how she told the story:
I knew that my manager would be okay with the idea of me leaving right away, but it would be leaving them in the lurch as they tried to fill my position. I told my new boss that I really thought I should give them at least two weeks notice and asked if he was okay with that. He said that he would get back to me.
When he spoke to me again, he said that the more he thought about it, the more he liked that I respected my previous employer’s need for the full two weeks and that he would hope his employees offer him the same respect. So I start in two weeks.
This young woman has the right idea. Her last two weeks at her old job will be good ones, and she hasn’t burned any bridges if someday she wants to come back.