3 Tips to follow when you want to leave your job | Never burn bridges

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3 Tips to follow when you want to leave your job | Never burn bridges

There are a few cardinal rules that should always be followed if you plan to leave your current job for another opportunity.  It’s never a good idea to burn bridges.  So following these rules will help you make a graceful exit and keep your bridges intact. 

Give appropriate notice

Leaving with less than two weeks’ notice is not good practice.  You also should be willing to consider working even longer if you can, especially if you’re more senior in the organization.  You need to give your organization time to transfer your responsibilities to others, train a replacement, enable documents and files to be accessible to others, et cetera.  Leaving without providing your organization with enough time to handle these basic requirements puts your former colleagues, your boss, and the organization as a whole in a challenging position. 

Tell your boss before you tell anyone else about your decision. 

It may be tempting to tell a close colleague of your decision to leave before mentioning it to your boss but resist the temptation.  You owe it to your boss to know about your decision before anybody else.  Accept the fact that your relationship with your boss will take on a different tone, but if your boss hears the news from others in the organization first, it will make the situation even more challenging for you.  You and your boss can then discuss how the news should be communicated more broadly in the organization.  Until you and your boss have had a chance to put that plan in place, you should not make others aware of your decision.

Be as honest as you can about your next career move

Be as honest as you can about your next career move, while also expressing gratitude for the experiences you’ve had at the organization you’re leaving.  It will be easy for colleagues and your manager to find out where you ultimately land.  Most individuals quickly update their LinkedIn profiles after a career move.  So if you’re cagey and nebulous about your new position or the name of the company you will join, it may negatively and unnecessarily impact relationships that you want and need to preserve.  You never know when it might be necessary or advantageous to reach out to an ex-colleague or a former manager.  The way to preserve those relationships is to be upfront and honest about your future plans, and to express appreciation for the experiences that you’ve had, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown and developed, and the relationships you’ve formed in the role you’re leaving.  Even if you’re struggling to find some positives to highlight, there is usually at least one thing that you liked about the job you’re leaving.  So focus on that and express your appreciation. 

Rishabh's case of leaving his job

Here's a small example.  Here's Risabh,  who was actually very well-liked and who did great work.  When he left his organization, he did so without saying anything about where he was going or what he would be doing, even when directly asked.  He was also very vocal about some negative experiences he had had at the company and was openly critical of senior management.  His comments made their way through the rumor mill, and while at the time this might have been cathartic for him, it ended up backfiring.  He went to a competitor, and when the new role didn’t work out, and an exciting new position opened up, he attempted to be rehired by the original company.  Needless to say, there was no interest in rehiring him, even though he was very qualified and had done great work. That the outcome might have been very different had he been more open, honest, and positive during his original departure. 

Be very patient in your last two weeks

The moral of the story is simple.  It doesn’t pay to burn bridges, especially where there may be a shortlist of firms competing in the industry where you have significant experience.  Word gets around, and it can be impossible to recover from bad decisions you make in the last two weeks of employment.  So be wise, be thoughtful, and keep your bridges intact. 

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