No doubt you’ve heard the cliché “don’t burn bridges,” but what does it mean in relation to professional development and does it really matter?
Given the vast digital networking system, what one does (or doesn’t do) often will find its way to the curious observer and/or potential hiring manager. In other words, YES, it does matter.
Burning bridges can be as simple as not giving a courteous two-week notice, to acting in a nonprofessional manner, and to searching for a job while on a current one (literally). To clarify reasons for the crumble, we’ll review each of the three paths mentioned.
- Not giving a professional two-week notice. If employed and accepting another offer, professionalism dictates you give the current employer adequate notice to find a replacement or proactively train an existing peer. By not giving proper notice, the company could suffer financial loss, peer hardship, and/or customer disapproval.
- Acting in a nonprofessional manner. If you’ve been in the workforce for any time at all, you’ve seen fellow (ex) employees do some rather unusual things during separation. Yelling, cursing, throwing things or bouts of anger will automatically drive an immovable chasm.
- Searching for a job while on a current one. I’ve seen this more times than I wish to admit but for any employee not satisfied with their employment situation, this is fast-pass ticket out. Taking advantage of company equipment (computer, phone, and time) to search for and inquire about another job is downright unethical. Do yourself a favor and don’t rationalize by claiming the search has been done during breaks, that’s not going to fly.
If you are not happy with your current situation, do the professional thing, give proper notice and promote the transition for both parties (you and company). Most employers know if their workers are glad to be part of the organization so you’re not fooling anyone via covert actions. What you have done is break the bonds of trust.
Should you care if trust is broken? Yes.
Planning on mentioning the job you just violated on the resume or for reference purposes? Plan again… and if you don’t think the job will come up in searches, you may want to think again on that one too.
On a side note, if you happen to be in an industry-specific sector, many hiring managers and executives network at the most inopportune times. It is not uncommon for these individuals to discuss employee occurrences such as terminations, promotions, and bridges. Thus, after burning one or two bridges, there may be no more bridges to cross and finding a new job may be more difficult than expected.
Fair or not, people talk, people search, and people gossip. The manner in which you depart a company is fodder during networking events.
Truth about bridges, a strong foundation leads to many wonderful adventures while a crumbled foundation leads nowhere.
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