How to Leave Your Job Without Burning Bridges

We’ve all been in those jobs that we just know we’ve got to leave. Whether you have a jerk for a boss, or you had to take that entry level position at a lower salary, there comes a point when you just know you have to move on to the next opportunity. Making this change – especially if it’s your first time moving to a new company – can create a lot of anxiety. There are a number of things that can ease the stress and make your search, transition and job change a piece of cake.

First things first, make sure that your offer is a real job offer. I had a friend who was so excited about a new position. It was the perfect job and she loved the manager she met. At the end of the interview, the manager told her that she wanted to hire her and even talked about a start date. They shook on it and she was on cloud nine. My friend gave her notice the next day and called her new boss, only to find out that the company had placed a hiring freeze and it might be as long as four to six months before she could fill the position. Explaining to your current boss why you are “unquitting” is never a fun thing to do. Make sure, before you give notice, that the offer is in writing, you have salary and benefits details and that all of your questions have been answered.

So now that you have your job offer in hand, it’s important that you keep things very professional. This means that you will need to write a letter of resignation. You can keep it short and simple, but it should at a minimum thank your current employer for the opportunity you’ve had, provide at least two weeks of notice and a signature. While you may be in a hurry to start your new job, someone someday is going to need a reference from your boss. The notice period will give him/her a chance to transition your work and start the search for your replacement. 

Once you’ve given notice, the next two to three weeks may feel like a lifetime. You’re excited for what’s coming next and it can be very tempting to slack off in your current job (What are they going to do, fire you???). While the temptation is real, this is also the last impression you’ll leave on your manager and coworkers. Ask your manager what they need to help in the transition. Avoid talking too much with your coworkers about how awesome your new company is – even if it’s true. And make sure you treat the last two week as seriously as you did your first two. You may need a reference, or even want to come back someday, so don’t let two weeks of “slacker time” get in the way of keeping your long-term options open.

Unfortunately for many of us, a change in jobs also means that we begin to lose touch with people that we’ve grown very close to. This can be personally and emotionally jarring. So while you will have to focus professionally on your new job, make sure you take steps to keep your friendships intact. Yes, the relationships may change, but taking a favorite coworker out for lunch, or a group out for drinks on the weekend may help to move your professional relationships into the realm of personal friendships that outlast your notice period. 

While it may seem scary, a job change can open up a lot of financial, personal and professional growth opportunities. Take them by the horns and good luck!  You got this!

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