Keep Your Bridges Intact

Who seeks shall find.” – Sophocles

Very few people will make it all the way through their careers without changing jobs at least once. Whether you leave because you want to or because the employer makes you, the separation process is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. When you leave a job, you always have a choice: to burn the bridge or leave it standing. As satisfying as it may be to burn your bridges, it is usually best to leave them intact.

Reasons to avoid burning the bridge:

  • You aren’t just burning a bridge. You are eliminating a connection that could prove useful in the future. When you insult your previous employer, he is unlikely to give you a positive recommendation when another potential employer calls him.
  • You may want to come back. When you leave a job, it may seem like it is behind you forever. However, the day may come when you want your old job back, especially if you are being laid off. If you burn your bridges, it is unlikely that the company will rehire you in the future.
  • You may work with the same people again. Your coworkers, supervisor, or even your subordinates may show up in a future work environment. If they remember you as “that guy” who went off on the boss before leaving for good, they may be less than friendly.
  • Word gets around. Even if your boss or least favorite supervisor was the only one present when you did your damage, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to tell anyone. News of your outburst may reach friends, family, and people you have never met. In some cases, the story may even reach a potential employer, who may be less likely to hire you as a result.

How to leave without burning bridges:

  • Don’t take it personally. Whether you resigned or were fired, try to keep the situation in the business perspective. Remain professional and don’t let your personal feelings influence your actions.
  • Write a letter. Regardless of the circumstances of the separation, write a letter to your employer or supervisor thanking him for the opportunities he gave you while you worked there.
  • Stay positive and focus on the future. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of the separation, make an effort to use your energy in a positive way. Prepare for your next job by improving your resume, filling out applications for new jobs, or visiting a career counseling center. You can find quality career counseling services through an institution of higher learning. You can also get assistance through your state unemployment department or certain nonprofit organizations.

Regardless of whether it is your decision or your employer’s, leaving your job is never easy. No matter how angry or hurt you are, it’s never a good idea to eliminate connections you may need in the future. By controlling your emotions and channeling them in a positive way, you can leave your bridges intact and move on without regrets.

About the author: Matt Herndon is a freelance writer living and working in the Indianapolis area. His undergraduate and graduate work was done in Upper East Tennessee where he studied communication and institutional leadership. He writes on behalf of American InterContinental University.

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