Bridges Better Unburnt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are reasons that doctors put “Changing Jobs” in the highest category of stressors. There are reasons you get funny looks if you’re all smiles but wondering why you’re having headaches and/or stomach aches and you say you’re changing jobs. It is a very big deal. And it starts in that one moment of realization when you know…It’s time to move on.

It can happen quickly, or over several months. It could be your decision or forced upon you. But at some point in everyone’s career, a change is going to come and you are going to leave. The stress, anxiety, and questions that come along with this realization can be overwhelming, and these can mount deeply even if on the surface you think it’s no big deal.

The first thing that you have to come to terms with is that no job is permanent. I think a lot of people mistake a professional relationship and the commitment thereto for something more like a marital relationship, where any thought of severing the bond brings anxiety. The point is, if it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. You need to understand that as much as your coworkers and employer(s) do.

No need to complicate it with emotions, either in your own mind or in your resignation. All that you have to do is take your leave in a way that opens rather than closes doors. Here are a couple of thoughts on how to make that happen:


The first and most obvious of this is respect. Not only to give it, but to earn it. No matter what position you are in or how you are leaving this job, this is the single most important part, and it bleeds into everything that you will do in your transition period (if you have one). Show your employer and coworkers respect by acknowledging their position. Gain respect by abstaining from negative talk at work. Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean you’re suddenly allowed to gossip and talk about people behind their back. Continue your work with pride until you are gone. Remain courteous and amiable with your coworkers and employer. Be helpful and genuine. You’d be surprised how simple acts like positive body language, eye contact, and handshakes will set people at ease and earn you respect.


By this I don’t mean full transparency necessarily, but do be honest. There is no need to bring your personal feelings and daydreams into this in any way that is not related to your position or your time working with them. So, if it is not a medical issue, you don’t have to tell them every aspect that went into your decision and you don’t have to tell them every reaction you’re having. Hopefully this goes without saying, but some people get nervous and start rattling off things they didn’t originally intend to say. However, you should be honest. Honesty will, in turn, gain you respect. Tact and diplomacy will be paramount (no huffing and puffing about old scores or anything), but telling them that you are looking to advance or focus on a particular area in your career is not going to be met with hostility. And, if it is, smile your most professional smile and hold up your end of the previous paragraph until you are out of the door. Stay above reproach, no matter what.

Be honest with yourself in this transition. Do your research on where you’re going, and be sure of what you’re leaving behind. In the end, most people want what’s best for everyone involved. Be one of those people. At every step, forget anxiety and focus on doing the next right thing, and one day you’ll look back and see a landscape of bridges and not piles of ash.

If you’re in a transition, or preparing for one, feel free to share your thoughts, stories, and questions. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

Stay tuned: Next time we will examine the flipside of job loss… being asked to leave and the common stages defining downsizing.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer Education Career Services, Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs Blog: Education Career Services: West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist:

3 thoughts on “Bridges Better Unburnt”

  1. I could not agree with this more. Burning bridges leaves you with no way back and any employer who hears negative comments about a previous job, or how you just up and quit does not leave a good feeling with the interviewer. Interviewers want employees who are professional, not ones who act as if they were 2 years old.

  2. Amazing read and very helpful due to the fact that I am on the verge of changing jobs (by choice).

  3. I hear you loud and clear! No job is permanent and yes people should never liken their job relationship to marital relationships. This tips have been really helpful.

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