Career Thrive


They might not be your employer anymore, but it's still important to play nice.

Maybe you landed a gig at your dream company, or maybe you’re starting your own. Maybe you’re looking for a change in location, culture, profession, all of the above, and/or more. Maybe you’re going back to school or taking a long break to travel. Maybe it’s just not working out.

Whatever your reason is for voluntarily leaving a job, you’ll want to make sure you exit with grace and gratitude. Your work history will follow you wherever you go, and you don’t want to have to explain why you don’t have any references from one job. Moreover, if it’s possible you’ll return to a job, you don’t want to hurt your chances for a rehire because you didn’t stay in touch or you rubbed your superiors the wrong way. So, how do you not burn bridges when leaving or preparing to leave a job? Here are the three Golden Rules:


Sometimes a start date at a new job is non-negotiable, but if you are able to, try to coordinate a date that allows your current employer plenty of time to transition. Two weeks is standard for most jobs, though a one week notice is doable at others. If you’re at a small company or the only person performing specific duties, it is definitely wise to abide by the two-week rule. In any case, telling an employer you’re leaving today or tomorrow could hurt your boss, your team, and yourself. Plan as far ahead as you can if you need to leave a job, and everyone will benefit in the long run.


Make sure to stay in touch with your manager and any other colleagues with whom you worked closely. If you can, try to gather personal email addresses and phone numbers in addition to work information. Then, actually take the time to send them a message. Lauren Berger a.k.a. the Intern Queen recommends keeping in touch with your professional contacts at least three times a year. Chances are you’ll need to contact these people for references or introductions to people in their networks. If something is to go amiss in your new role or venture, you might even want to connect about rejoining the company. However, Lauren says it’s important to get into the habit of reaching out just to say hello. Why? You want people to remember who you are and to cultivate strong relationships in your professional network. So give it a try!


Whether your boss was way too much like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada or you were getting paid in pennies, it’s understandable that you’d want to vent about your previous or soon-to-be previous job. However, airing out that dirty laundry digitally is not the way to go. Even if you aren’t connect with coworkers on social media or you’re only sharing a status with certain groups or lists, anything can be screenshotted or cached nowadays. Not to mention, privacy settings can be flawed. The last thing you want is for your boss or coworker to find out that you’ll be leaving your job by way of Facebook post or Tweet and possibly, that they’re the reason why. Talk about awkward! If you truly need to tell someone about how badly you want out of your job or just can’t wait to share the good news of your next professional move, do it offline and in private to a trusted friend, family member, or partner.

Got any tips on keeping in touch with old employers? Let us know in the comments!

(Featured image via

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: