Career Wednesdays: How to Leave Your Job Without Burning Bridges

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Welcome back to career Wednesdays! In case you missed the last two weeks, my friend Nidhi wrote two great guest posts to get you started on the path to your next great position. In week one we discussed how to update your resume for the post-grad professional and in week two we discussed interview preparation and tips. This brings us to Week Three: How to Leave Your Job without Burning Bridges. Me and Nidhi tag-teamed to co-write this article, that's some teamwork for you!  

Career Series: How to Leave your Job without Burning Bridges
By: Laura Cronin and Nidhi Desai (contact: or

You have your fancy new job offer, you can’t wait to start. But, before you get to start your new position there’s one little thing left to do: quit your old job. It pretty much goes without say that there’s a right and wrong way to do this, but let’s go over a couple of basic points to ensure you leave your old job in the best way possible.
  1.  The first step is to draft your resignation letter which you will either e-mail or hand deliver to your supervisor or human resources, depending on your company. There are many templates online for various resignation letters, but the gist of them is that you should formally acknowledge your desire to end your employment with your current employer, thank your employer for the opportunities they have provided to you during your tenure, state a reason for your decision, and give the date your resignation is effective. It is common courtesy to give at least two weeks notice to your employer. It is really important to give two weeks notice, unless extenuating circumstances make it impossible for you to do so. Additionally, it is possible that your employer may ask you to have an end date earlier than two weeks, or ask if you can work longer than two weeks, but these are a case-by-case basis. 

  2. After you have notified the appropriate upper management of your decision you should let all of your immediate supervisors know of your resignation and let them know what your last day will be. This is especially important if you work in a position where you report to multiple supervisors, like I did in public accounting. This gives everyone time to prepare for your departure and makes it so your last day will not be a surprise. It is best if you can tell these people in person, but if that is not possible a polite, personalized email will do. It sounds uncomfortable, but you should always notify your managers before telling co-workers or other friends at work. It just doesn’t come off as you being respectful or responsible if your manager hears the news of your departure from someone else.

  3. Wrap-up your assignments and prepare your successor to take over your role. I wrote up word documents with notes about my upcoming client (including contact info, directions, where to park, the best places to get lunch, etc.) for the senior taking over the job for me. She really appreciated the information, which would not have been obvious just from the other files I gave her. Going above and beyond getting your successor ready for their new role will leave them with fond memories of you once you are long gone. Just think, if you one-day need a reference you want to make sure that you left a lasting good impression rather than leaving all your co-workers buried under the work you left behind

  4. Gather email address, add co-workers on LinkedIn, and be sure to reach out to touch base with co-workers before your departure. This way you can keep in touch once you have transitioned to your new role and keep your network strong. Just because you don’t work together anymore doesn’t mean that these people aren’t valuable network contacts! You may even find yourself working for the same company again! I am currently working with two people from my old firm at my new job, and both have reached out to me and provided me advice about my new role. It is always desirable to be well connected in the business world.

  5. On your last day send a thank-you email to your co-workers, friends, supervisors, etc. Be sure to thank them for the experience you’ve had during your time at the company and provide your contact information so they can reach you once you do not have your old work email address. As I stated in #4, this leads to a stronger network, which is always a good thing!

  6. Do not update your position on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) before your first day at your new company. This way you respect your current employer while you still work there, and you don’t seem too anxious to leave. Also, it should go without say, but never write negative comments online about your old employer. You never know when you need a referral and chances are you have friends who still work there! Remember, once you hit “publish” it is out there forever!

  7. Leaving a job does not mean cutting ties with all previous co-workers. In fact, the opposite is true; in starting your new job, you should aim to only continue growing your professional network, maintaining relationships with close old managers and friends during your time in your previous role. Not only is it smart idea professionally, it’s also good for your personal development. Some of your old co-workers may have seen you in your times of strength and weakness in your prior position, and can assist you as you move forward with the new role. Just like we mentioned last week, you never know who knows what and what they can help you with. It’s always a good idea to keep your network expanding.
Implementing these tips will allow you to leave your current position graciously and help build your network rather than tearing it down. Leaving a job is an emotional process; even if you are very excited for your new position sometimes leaving a place where you feel comfortable can be scary! Just know most people will be very excited for your new opportunity and congratulate you, as long as you go about the process in a professional manner. Transitioning to your new position will be much easier if you know that you closed the door on the last chapter of your employment on a positive note.

Next week we will discuss tips on transitioning to a new company culture and job function! See you then!
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  1. What a great post I have been lucky enough to never make a mistake in this department. Also I would say honesty is so important!
    xo, Jessica || The Petite Diaries

  2. Absolutely love your posts!


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