How To Leave Your Job Without Burning Bridges

Perhaps 2015 is the year you’ve decided to switch jobs? You need a fresh start, a better pay-cheque or a new challenge to sink your teeth into. The question is – How do you leave your current job, without looking like a douchebag and burning bridges?

Before clearing out your desk and handing you access card in, make sure you’ve ticked off all these items on this to-do list. This way, you manage to maintain a relationship with your current employer while forging a new path for yourself. It’s a small world and once you’ve burnt bridges there ain’t no way to cross them again.

  • Leave quickly and with dignity

Leaving a job is almost like ending a personal relationship (especially when it’s a small business) – when you end a relationship it needs to be swift, and done with a certain amount of class and dignity. Once you’ve made up your mind to leave, you need to leave as soon as possible! Hanging around once you’ve mentally checked out isn’t good for anyone on your team (including you). If you need to work out your notice period, do it, but if you can get everything handed over, quicker, then try and move as swiftly as you can towards the exit sign.

  • Key relationship communication

This is where it really counts. The message you relay to key accounts, suppliers or customers is of paramount importance. Whatever your reasons are for leaving, make sure that the message you communicate is the same message (and keep it clean). What do I mean about keeping it clean? I mean no smack talk. Whatever your reason for leaving, bad mouthing your colleagues (or boss) in front of key clients is only going to result in you coming off like a ‘bitter little teenage girl’. Word gets around and you don’t want to go out as the ‘guy who trashed talked everyone in your office’, before heading on to greener pastures. Nobody likes that guy! Make sure your message to key clients is clear, constant and, above all, clean.

  • The ‘clean-your-machine’ policy

There is a good chance that when you joined the company, they gave you a computer to work on. Now that you’re leaving, you need to hand your machine back in. Do the right thing and give it a proper clean (and I’m not talking about a wipe with Handy Andy and a soft sponge). Make sure you remove all your personal stuff off the laptop, and leave all the business files, on the machine, for the next guy. If there is any sensitive business information on your PC when you hand it over, make sure somebody knows where the documentation is stored. The last thing you want is your replacement watching saucy home made movies you shot with your wife over the Christmas break or your boss calling your 6 months down the line to find out what happened to that key presentation or spreadsheet. Get it done properly and avoid a mess down the line.

  • The official hand-over

Your employer’s biggest fear, when you decide to leave, is the following: what impact will the hole, that has been created by your departure, leave in the business and the bottom line. If you work in a small business, then the hand-over process might take a few days, or a week at most. It is your responsibility, before you leave, to make sure your hand-over has been done as smoothly as possible and everyone knows what to pick up, in your absence. If you work in a larger corporate, the hand-over process might actually be laid-out and you simply need to follow the instructions step-by-step. Either way, you will look like a champion when finally shaking everyone’s hands if the hand-over has been smooth, and like a complete douchebag if it hasn’t.

  • A firm handshake and a goodbye

The day has come for you to clean out your desk, pile your personal belongings into a cardboard box and hand your access and company credit card, in. The last thing you need to do is take a moment to say goodbye to everyone in the office (and I really do mean everyone). From the top brass to the tea lady. First impressions last and so do last impressions. Make sure everyone remembers you for the legend you are, and a firm handshake and thank you will go a long way towards making sure you leave that impression.

Is this the year for a change? Time to find a new challenge? Go for it, but make sure you leave your current job with your dignity intact and the opportunity to still have a beer with your ex-boss, if you ever wanted to.

Any other key points I might have missed? Drop me a line and let me know.


6 replies on “How To Leave Your Job Without Burning Bridges”

Ensure that the reason you are leaving is properly relayed throughout the business…perhaps even best to do it yourself. People talk and you dont want directors and even previous collegues going abd talking smack about you through ourt the professional world.

In the multimedia era it is important to inform all customers of changes so that emails and cell phone calls can be redirected etc. It is annoying if you start the new job and still receive emails etc. pertaining to your previous job / employer. If one have to hand back the cellphone – leave a message on your phone explaining why it is not being answered. Send out an email to all contacts informing them of your departure, but also offer assistance if they do not come right. This buys a lot of credibility with both former clients and former employer.

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