Date Published: 4th November 2019

Leaving your job without burning bridges

Leaving your job without burning bridges

Before starting your new job, you need to take care of business at your current one. Depending on the relationship between you and your employer, this can be a hard conversation to have.

There is so many questions when it comes to resigning, who should I tell first? How much notice to give? And how honest should I be as to why I’m leaving?


What the experts say

According to research by life insurance firm LV=, an employer will change jobs on average every five years. In the US, according to official statistics, it is even shorter with employers leaving just over four years. “People are more accustomed to the comings and goings of colleagues than in the past,” says Daniel Gulati, the co-author of Passion & Purpose. Colleagues will become Intrigued as to why you’re leaving, you set your tone. According to Len Schlesinger, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of Just Start: “The bookends — how you start and how you end — are the most important parts of any professional relationship.” Most people will think about what kind of first impressions they make but never their last.

Be flexible

Most notice periods are around 4 weeks but can be flexible. Leaving a company with anything less than 2 weeks is considered ‘bad form’ even if it customary. You want to leave on good terms as this is the foundation of your start in your new position. Consider working longer if you haven’t already committed to other opportunities. The higher up you are in the company the longer it can take to leave the company. Sometimes you are needed to train the next person in the position, most of the time you are looking at a month plus. On the other hand, you don’t want to give too long notice, anything over 3 months you would just be hanging around.

Tell your boss

The first person you should tell is your boss/ manager. For the obvious reason, you don’t want your boss to hear it from anyone else. Once you have revealed that you are leaving, you are no longer in charge. The timing and nature of your departure will be better left to your manager. Although, you may want to ask how it will be communicated. Will it be announced in a team meeting? An email? Are you or the manager responsible for telling everyone?

Leave clean

Regardless of the reason, you’re leaving your final agenda should be to transition in a professional and positive way. This means making sure all loose end and projects are tied up, our colleagues are up to date. You want both your former colleagues and boss to feel relax and positive about you leaving.


Have appreciation for the position and people you have worked with. In most jobs there is something or people you enjoy working with, so your gratitude towards this. Be thankful for what you have learnt in your role, whether this is work or personal related.

Leaving meeting

It may be tempting to be brutally honest when discussing your departure. This is not the time to be honest about what went wrong or the feedback you wish you had given. Firstly, your new employer will be contacting your old for reference and although you cannot get a bad one, not having one has the same effect. If you are just leaving for a better opportunity you can talk about this but don’t be obliged to. Keep it professional not emotional.




  • Give more than two weeks’ notice – offer longer if you can
  • Prepare with your boss the best way to transition your departure and tie up any loose ends
  • Be thankful and show gratitude


  • Be dishonest – your boss and colleagues will find out eventually
  • Give detailed negative feedback and improvement ideas in your leaving meeting


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