6 Tips to Prevent Burning Bridges When You Leave a Job

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The best way to leave a job that’s not working out is a voluntary exit. You resign, serve out your final weeks and gracefully walk away with relationships intact and in good standing. That’s the ideal, but it frequently doesn’t work out that way.

Companies let employees go for myriad of reasons: poor performance, personality differences, incompatible work styles or goals, decreased budgets, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, etc. Employees exiting a company for these reasons can still leave with poise and dignity while preserving relationships.

Understandably, losing a job for any reason causes hurt, anger and grief, but feelings can be put aside for your greater long-term good. The following tips will help you if you find yourself in the position of losing a job.

  1. Regardless of whether you think you deserve to lose your job or not, accept the company’s decision; don’t fight it. Ask questions to clarify the reasons for the decision and to determine if there is something you could have done differently, but don’t let anger lead your ego into a caustic exchange of words that you can never take back. By the time your manager or the company gives you notice, the decision is already set in stone.
  2. Keep negativity at bay. Just as if you were leaving by choice, thank the manager or human resources representative for the opportunity you had to contribute and work together.
  3. Ask if there are any options to continue working on a contract basis. Even when a company lets an employee go because of team fit or personality conflicts, the employee’s talent may still be valued. If you can negotiate such a deal, it enables you to state on your resume that you are still employed in some capacity.
  4. Companies don’t like to fire employees. Those who conduct the termination may experience their own guilt and bad feelings. Ask if they have any referrals that can help you in your job search. You could be surprised by their willingness to help.
  5. Say only good things about the company and the people you no longer will work with. Refrain from writing a damaging Glassdoor review or making any destructive comments on social media. You may feel better in the moment that you are venting, but such airing of emotions only hurts you in the long run.
  6. Once you leave, have a cooling-off period before you engage with people who were former employees. It’s tempting to speak poorly of the company or those who let you go. And it keeps you immersed in the event rather than focused on moving forward, learning from the experience and being better for it.

Vow to find the lessons and the good in losing your job. Business relationships don’t always work out, but you can retain the connections you made and leave a position on a more positive note than you might imagine possible.

 

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