How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

If you’ve just landed a new job, chances are you can’t wait to leave your current role and get started in the new one. But it’s important not to burn bridges with your old manager, colleagues, and direct reports, as the working world is a small one and it’s a good idea to keep those relationships positive. These tips can help you to preserve working relationships as you move between jobs.

Communicate the news you quit your job appropriately

To begin with, in most cases it’s wise to tell your boss before anyone else in the office—even if you’re close with your coworkers. You don’t want your boss to hear the news through the grapevine, which will likely make them feel disregarded as well as erode their trust in you. 

Once he or she knows, ask whether there’s any preference for how your departure is communicated to your team. Some managers may prefer to tell the rest of the team themselves, while others will want you to set up conversations with your colleagues. If you’re working for a smaller company, and particularly if you hold a more senior role, the management team may want to make a company-wide announcement. Regardless of the situation, ask what would be preferred to make sure you don’t step on any toes. 

Keep it positive 

While your last few weeks at a company can feel like a great time to vent about everything you find wrong, avoid bad mouthing before your departure, as this can leave a lasting impression of you as someone who complains or gossips a lot

Instead, focus on the positives—if people ask why you’re leaving, for example, talk about the new role or company you’re moving to and why you’re excited to join. And the same applies in your exit interview. Your approach should be the same as if you were staying at the company: That is, don’t use your departing words as a way to say things you couldn’t before you were leaving. It’s ok to offer constructive feedback, particularly if someone asks for it, but keep it light and friendly.

Make the transition smooth after you quit your job

It’s important to give your soon-to-be former employer enough notice, as well as to help make the transition as easy as possible. You should plan to give at least a few weeks notice, and it’s not a bad idea to double check your employment contract, as most will include a minimum number of weeks or months. Make sure you don’t sign a contract or commit to a certain start date for your new job without first agreeing on an appropriate transition period.

If you manage a team, this could easily be the most difficult part of moving on, and your employer will likely be concerned with team morale once you depart. If they’re not hiring an immediate replacement, another manager may be asked to “adopt” all of your team members, they may be spread amongst teams, or they may go some time without a dedicated manager. Whatever the case, do everything in your power to ensure each team member continues to be happy in his or her role, and feels the same amount of potential about their career progression after you leave. Not only will your team members appreciate it—the company will be grateful that you’ve done what you can to keep their employees happy.

Before you leave, you may be asked to help hire your replacement, as well as to document processes, make introductions to suppliers, partners, or anyone external you work with, and any other handover activities relevant to your role. While it may feel like a drag, complete these tasks thoroughly and without dragging your feet, as a clean handover can help to leave a better lasting impression on not only your manager, but also everyone you work with.

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About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.