3 Tips on How to Leave Your Job and Not Burn Bridges

Posted by Blair Fleming On Jan 30, 2014 3:07:00 PM

3 Tips on How to Leave Your Job and Not Burn Bridges

As an employee, leaving a job can leave you feeling bittersweet, sad, or even excited!  But how does your employer feel?  Although most people don’t stay at one job forever, it can still be shocking and disruptive when an employee decides to leave. 

Employees leave for many reasons.  A survey carried out by shows the top 10 reasons why people leave their jobs including; 57.2% inadequate compensation, 37.3% career advancement, 34.2% insufficient recognition, 20.1% boredom, 16.9% inadequate benefits, 15.3% lack of professional development, 11.8% insufficient job security, 10.5% stress, 10% poor relationships with management, 9% undesirable commute.  Whatever the reason, employees should always keep in mind how a “bad” exit from their current employer can affect their career down the line.

Do you want a good recommendation or future business contact? In an age where technology really doesn’t let us lose track of contacts (i.e. Social Media), it is more important than ever not to burn bridges!  This is just one huge reason why you should make sure that your former employer(s) and coworkers remember you in a good way.

1. Don’t boast...have a discussion with your boss instead

The first thing you should do after making the decision to leave is have a discussion with your immediate boss.  Give reasons why you are leaving and have an honest conversation. Based on this conversation, your boss will do one of two things; either he/she will wish you well or make you a counter offer influence your decision to leave.  At this point it is completely up to you on how to proceed but at least whatever you do will be perceived as a positive. 

If you still choose to leave try to keep the news on a need to know basis.  Many organizations have a set way that they like to break the news to their employees.  Respect the process and bow out graciously.

2. Leave on a high note...tie up loose ends

Where appropriate, leave a “how to” guide for your replacement and offer to be accessible for a few weeks after you leave to answer any questions to ease the transition.  It may also be a good idea to write "thank you" parting notes to colleagues that you will be leaving behind.  Showing concern and the desire to tie up loose ends will ease any anxiety associated with your departure and allow you to leave behind a positive legacy. 

3. Timing...give notice

Assuming that you have been in a job for any real length of time, it is not unreasonable to give a minimum of two week’s notice.  Remember, if you decide just to walk out and never look back, there may be backlash from your employer (e.g. no reference).  Also, remember your former employer needs to fill the role left vacant by your departure.  Most often it’s not as simple as posting the job and receiving a response from the perfect candidate.  Most jobs take serious effort to fill and employers need time to find the best possible candidate so, give as much notice as you can.

Also, to make it easier on yourself, give notice on a Friday.  The weekend allows you to avoid the next day weirdness of giving notice and it gives everyone else some time to adjust to your news of leaving.


So, burning bridges is definitely not considered a best practice when it comes to transitioning to another job.  By being honest and respecting your current employer’s policies and business needs you will be able to make a smooth exit and trust me, you’ll be glad that you did.

TAGS: Workplace

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