So you’ve made the decision to leave your job to pursue other ventures.  You may think you can stroll out the door, never see these people again and never look back, but you don’t want to leave your work on negative terms. It may be difficult if feelings are hurt or your manager is angry, but maintaining a professional demeanor, giving a notice, thanking them for the opportunity and remaining courteous are some ways to not burn bridges.  Why should you care about not burning professional bridges?  We are glad you asked!

You might change your mind.

The last thing you picture yourself doing as you leave a job is standing back in front of your manager’s desk down the line asking for your job back, but believe us – it happens. It is not uncommon to be overcome with the “grass is greener” phenomenon and want to venture out and see what the rest of the business world has to offer.  However, maybe after testing other waters, you have a newfound appreciation for your old job, miss your colleagues, the environment, etc.  If you left your work on bad terms, you have eliminated this option for you, so keep your exit professional!

You might need a reference.

Somewhere down the line, you may just need your supervisor as a professional reference.  Whether they choose to provide you one or not is up to them, and may be determined by the way you left the organization.  If you gave plenty of notice and didn’t leave your team hanging, tied up loose ends and remained professional and grateful for the opportunity throughout your exit meeting, your supervisor will be less likely to harbor resentment, and furthermore, may be more willing to vouch for your professionalism in the future.

Managers talk.

Even if you never in a million years plan on soliciting a reference from your old employer, that doesn’t mean word won’t get around anyways.  Managers within industries often times talk, and if you burned your employer or made an especially dramatic exit, other vendors or partners of your previous employer may get wind of it.  Make sure you don’t provide any antics for people to talk about!

You may alienate yourself from business contacts down the line.

Throughout our professional career, every person we come in contact with can provide us valuable insight into the business world and expand our network.  Although you may never see yourself or your new company doing business with your old company, you never know where your career path may take you in the future.  Also, perhaps old coworkers from your previous employer have since left the organization and work for companies you might want to work with- or even for- down the road. Making sure you don’t write off any potential business contacts with a childish exit is important to your professional development.

Even though your old job might be in your rearview mirror at the moment, it is important to not burn bridges that could affect your professional growth later on!