Here’s How to Quit Your Job Without Being a Jerk and Burning Bridges

Phasma and Stormtroopers walking through a burnt ruin

Will your behavior after you quit your job make your career crash and burn? | Lucasfilm

After searching for months or years, you finally landed your dream job. You couldn’t be happier. The hard part is trying to muster up the energy to finish your last couple of weeks at your current position after you’ve quit your job. Although you don’t have much longer to go, every minute at work feels like torture. You’re at a point where you feel like you just can’t take any more.

Before you give in to the urge to be mean to everyone or leave without warning, think about your actions. Many people have been where you are right now and survived, so you can, too. Just take it a day at a time, and focus on the next step in your career path. Here’s how to quit your job without being a jerk and burning bridges.

1. Don’t sneak out during lunch

A woman eats lunch on the patio of the Chick-fil-A in Hollywood, California

Don’t sneak out at lunchtime and never come back when you quit your job. | Robyn Beck/AFP/GettyImages

You worked at a job you hated for far too long. Each morning, you were filled with dread, and the final walk to your office felt like a daily eight-hour prison sentence (more likely 10 hours). So once you sign the offer letter for your new job, you’re ready to pack it up and head out of there. Heading out of the office at lunchtime and never coming back might be very tempting, but it’s not the right way to do things. Instead, take time to compose a proper resignation letter. You never know. Your current boss might end up supervising you at another job.

2. Don’t start breaking rules

Young woman in blue sneakers

Stick to the rules at work. | MarinaZg

Another naughty thing you might be tempted to do is break work rules because you won’t be there for very long. For example, if your office has a strict dress code, you might start showing up in ripped jeans and sneakers, just to annoy everyone around you. You might reason it doesn’t matter because you have a new gig lined up, but your behavior during your last few days does matter.

People will be watching you to see how you’ll act now that you’re (hopefully) moving on to greener pastures. Be on your best behavior. Bad news always gets around. You don’t want your new employer to hear you’ve been causing trouble before you’ve even started your first day of work.

3. Don’t make a grand exit

fashionable woman

Don’t be a diva at work. |

It’s nice to be memorable. It’s flattering when people you worked closely with remember your name years later. However, quitting in a dramatic fashion will cause your team members to remember you for all the wrong reasons.

You might be upset about someone who wronged you, or you might want to get back at your boss for years of mistreatment. But it really doesn’t matter at this point. You have a new job, and you’re leaving the one you hate, so let sleeping dogs lie. If you decide to do something rash, such as flipping the bird on your way out, you could be offending people you might have to work with later on at some point. Behave.

4. Don’t try to recruit former co-workers

man sitting

Resist the urge to recruit co-workers. |

Although you’re very excited about your new gig, you might want to tone it down a bit. Some employers don’t look too kindly upon former workers who decide to “steal” employees and introduce them to the competition. If you’re still finishing your last couple of days at your current job, you’ll want to be careful.

Talking about your new job and telling current employees how to get a job where you’ll be going could cause an employer to ask you leave earlier than you had anticipated. That means your last check will be a lot smaller. If you want your full paycheck, you might want to keep quiet.

5. Don’t threaten your employer

angry co-workers

Don’t make threats. |

It’s not unusual to leave an employer because you feel you had been slighted in some way. You might have good reason to be angry, or you could be upset over something petty. Regardless of why you’re upset, don’t start making threats toward your employer or the people you work with. If you do have a legitimate case where you think you should pursue a lawsuit, handle the situation with dignity. Don’t make a scene and start making your future plans to sue known to the entire company.

6. Don’t bad-mouth your ex-boss and co-workers

co-workers gossiping

Stay out of the gossip mill. |

Even if you couldn’t stand your boss or co-workers, you should still keep things classy when you leave. Refrain from making disparaging comments about them to your new co-workers — and especially to your new boss. This just makes you look bad. If you don’t have a kind word to share, say nothing at all. If you decide to bad-mouth former teammates, you can be sure your current boss will take notice. Speaking poorly of others gives the people around you a peek into your character. If you want to make a good impression, don’t gossip.

7. Don’t be rude

Man giving the thumbs down sign.

Try to be nice. |

Now that your last day is approaching, you’re likely thinking about all the people in the office you can’t stand. Now is your time to give them a taste of their own medicine. If these are some of the thoughts running through your mind, stop right there. It might be hard, but do your best to not be obnoxious during the end of your tenure. Certain industries are tightly knit, and it’s as if everyone knows each other. Don’t step on the toes of someone who might be connected to a key worker at your next job.

8. Don’t try to get revenge

businessman shouting on the phone

Getting revenge will come back to bite you. |

Social media makes it all too easy to get revenge on people we don’t like. This same goes for employees who want to get back at everyone who treated them poorly at work. You might be so irritated by your former employer that you have a desire to post vicious comments on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t. Remember there’s a possibility your future employer could see these comments. In addition, if you signed a non-disparagement agreement upon your departure, you could be sued for your actions.

9. Don’t brag

young woman on a smartphone

Don’t brag about your new job. |

You’re happy about snagging a better job. It’s OK to be happy and to want to talk about your next career move. It’s important to remember, however, there’s a fine line between sharing your happiness and bragging (and yes, humble bragging counts, too). Don’t act so giddy that it starts to become annoying to those who work with you. Show some respect, and contain yourself. You can brag all you want to friends and family when you get home.

A final word

man holding a tablet

Your reputation will follow you from job to job. |

The overall lesson here is to be professional. Career paths are rarely a straight line. You can’t predict whom you will cross paths with in the future. It could be one month from now or many years. Impressions count in the world of work, so make an effort to manage and protect your reputation as much as you can. Good work is important, but your reputation could make or break your chances of moving up at your current job or getting a new one.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

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