How Not to Burn Bridges When You Resign from Your Job

by Evil HR Lady on January 20, 2016

Many people stay at a job too long, and by the time they quit, they are quite ready to go. This can result in burning bridges at the old job. You don’t want to do that, at all. It doesn’t matter whether you think you’ll never need to see these people again, you still need to take care.

Why? You don’t control the future. You may say, “I have a great new job lined up, so I don’t need the reference.” Well, the interesting thing about job hunting is that most people don’t call your current boss for a reference – because most people keep their job hunting confidential.]

To keep reading, click here:  How Not to Burn Bridges When You Resign from Your Job

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny January 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Good advice. I just changed jobs and did my best to not burn any bridges and believe that I was successful at that. My old workplace has invited me back twice to help train my replacement — with my new boss’ blessing (since the old place released me very quickly to begin my new job) — and has suggested that they might invite me back one more time for the same purpose. I could have easily “gone negative,” but what’s the point? Living well is the best revenge. I am now in a much better situation, and let bygones be bygones.


charles January 21, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Yep, quitting unprofessionally is what everyone will remember.

Years ago, we had one employee who was good at his job; so good that when he asked to transfer to another office they allowed him to do so easily. But, after a few years, without any warning, he quit in a huff; cussing people out.

That he did his job well for several years and at two different offices is long forgotten; but, his unprofessional behavior when he quit and the fact that others were scrambling to pick up his work (they ended up working late into the night) has been long remembered.

The irony is that the company was looking to do layoffs (everyone knew this and that may have added to his stress) and they were looking for folks to volunteer to be laid off. The manager would have gladly worked with him to put him on the list of those to be laid off. He could have gotten severance instead of everyone’s loathing.


No fear mongering, please January 24, 2016 at 3:07 am

Leave it to sites like this one to blow things out of proportion when it comes to references and giving notice. Yes, if you work at a company that treats you professionally, you should give 14 days’ notice. No, you don’t need to do this if you are being abused, and you do not need to be scared of potential future employers calling ex-employers not on your reference list.

The fact of the matter is that the notice period is the most effective tool in an employee’s arsenal for penalizing a company for bad behavior. It’s such a basic free-market means to deal with abuse from superiors and much simpler than the headache of legal action. Companies lose money when employees quit on short notice. (Fortunately, they lose money even when employees give 14 days’ notice. However, they lose more when less notice is given.) This gives them an economic disincentive to treat their employees badly. And websites like this are trying to scare you into not taking advantage of this.

After resignation, the only way a company can penalize an ex-employee is tell other people about them. And guess what? It turns out most employers don’t cold-call ex-employers not on reference lists to ask about ex-employees.

Want proof? Suppose it were the case that cold-calling ex-employers not on reference lists was a common practice. Actually, we don’t even need to suppose that. What do you think the average reference would be like from an ex-employer not on a reference list? Glowing? If they were terrific, they’d be on the reference list! Companies don’t need to waste time calling ex-employers not on your list. They already know they’re not going to be the best.

And do companies hire people that don’t list every company as a reference? All the time! I look through resumes and I rarely, if ever see one that lists every single company as reference (resumes that even mention references are in the minority).

Suppose it were true that all companies would automatically exclude you if you had an ex-employer with something negative to say about you. In that case, even if you did give 14 days’ notice, employers could call you back in after quitting and make you do whatever they please, threatening that they would otherwise tell everyone who calls regarding you about minor mistakes you’ve made (we all make them), thereby creating a negative reference, and saying that they don’t like you for good measure. No one would ever get hired, and we’d all be indentured servants.

Make it a goal to gather some positive references to move upward in your career with your good job performance. DON’T be scared of some abusive idiot boss saying negative things about you because “you burned your bridges,” preventing you from finding a job, and being forced to live on the street. Only two kinds of people even need to be concerned about references: (1) people in more senior, higher-paying positions (who already have the networks to battle negative references anyway), and (2) people who work at very large companies, who then wouldn’t be able to work at other locations of that company. Abuse is less likely at large companies anyway, since they are easy targets for lawsuits and have money that can be taken away in such lawsuits.

If you’re not near the top of totem pole, you don’t need to worry too much about people in your industry talking about you. Other people in your industry often work for…you know…your ex-employer’s competitors.


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