Five Reasons You Should Never Burn Your Bridges on Any Job

Five Reasons You Should Never Burn Bridges at Any JobJust about everyone has had a job that they were desperate to leave, and had an overwhelming desire to take a pound of flesh out of their boss, management in general, or even one or more coworkers on the way out. But even though that may seem like the right course of action, it usually isn’t. If you can possibly avoid it, you should never burn your bridges on any job.

Leaving a job on bad terms, no matter how justified it may seem at the time, can backfire on you in a number of ways. Here are at least five of them…

1. Leaving on Bad Terms Isn’t Professional

Each of us in the business world must think of ourselves as professionals. It’s not just about giving the other party benefit of the doubt, but more about maintaining a way of conducting ourselves that is generally respected by others in our industries or career fields.

What will it say about your degree of professionalism if you tell off your boss or one or more people in upper management? Or if you trash talk the employer to people outside the organization, and especially on your next job? And perhaps most dramatic of all attempted slights against the company would be to share your feelings about them on the social media. All of these actions speak more about you than they do about the employer!

It’s important to understand that some actions once taken, cannot be retracted. This is particularly true if you are especially public with your animosity. People will remember how you handled your departure for years to come, and that can present obstacles throughout the rest of your career.

2. You’ll Need the Reference

No matter how difficult the job situation is, you’re going to need at least two or three people who work for the employer who are willing to speak well about you. Though the relationship between you and your immediate supervisor might be beyond redemption, you’re going to have to find other coworkers, preferably those in management and supervisory positions, who will be willing references for you.

While it’s true that an employer is legally prohibited from providing a negative reference in regard to your employment, and must at least verify the dates of employment, their silence might be sufficient to prevent you from getting a job in the future. This is why it’s so important to have several people from the employer who will go to bat for you. It will be a way of working around an employer who otherwise won’t have anything good to say about your time with them.

3. You Never Want to Leave Your Co-workers in a Bad Situation

Even if your coworkers are sympathetic with your reasons for leaving the job, your departure will undoubtedly put them under additional pressure. For one thing, if you are particularly friendly with certain coworkers, they may take your departure as some form of repudiation – not just of the company, but of them personally. On a more practical level, given that many employers significantly delay replacing lost employees, your former coworkers may find themselves under greater stress as a result of your departure.

Your negative feelings and comments toward the employer could cause them to blame you for their current troubles. It’s also worth noting that not all employees may share your opinion about the employer. While they may be aware of certain negative factors, they may not have assigned the importance to them that you did, certainly not on a level that made them consider leaving. Eventually they could come to see you as a malcontent.

4. You Just Might End Up Working For Your Boss in the Future

In today’s job market, people don’t normally stay in one place more than a few years. More typically, they move from employer to employer within the same industry. This game of employment musical chairs raises the possibility that you may one day be working for your current boss at another employer.

You may be able to avoid that outcome as long as you know where that boss is going. But consider the possibility that you could be on a job with an employer who hires your boss, and puts him or her in charge of you once again. Your old boss will become your new boss.

If you exchanged unkind words on your way out the door, you can suddenly find yourself in a very fragile employment situation. Even if your boss were to agree to leave it in the past, it would put you in a situation where you could be facing job-in-jeopardy status as a result of a single infraction in the future.

You should never discount this type of outcome. It’s one of the single biggest reasons why you never want to burn your bridges on any job.

5. You May Need to Come Back One Day

It’s much easier to quit a job and move on to the next one during a strong economy, for the simple fact that there’s very likely to be another job to go to. But when recessions hit, industries go through shakeouts. Some employers survive, and others close their doors. The weaker performers are often bought out by the stronger ones. The point is, should the economy turn negative, it’s not inconceivable that you may go back to your former employer begging for your old job back. If there was bad blood between you, it may never happen.

This is especially important if you work in an industry where there are a relatively small number of potential employers. If there are only eight potential employers in your area, and three of them go out of business as a result of a bad economy, your former employer will have to be part of a very short list of prospects in the event you lose your job.

On any job that you have it’s important that you maintain a level of professionalism, even in the face of a negative job experience. This is especially important when you’re leaving a job, so that you don’t do something that might hurt your career in the future.

Have you ever left a job – wanting to tell them exactly how you feel – then pulled yourself back from doing it at the last minute?