Jack’s temporary assignment at the salt mine was coming to a close after a great 9 month term. He was only scheduled for 3 months, but he had done so well it was extended several times. He was getting antsy. Two days before his scheduled last day, he stalked into his bosses office, threw his ID badge on the desk and said, “Take this job and shove it. If I’m not appreciated, I’m not going to take your bull**** any more.” He stalked out.
The client called me and told me what happened. Jack did not return my calls. Guess what? Soon I had another assignment. He would have been able to do it. It was closer to his home. I never called him. He burned a bridge he didn’t need to.
When you build bridges you can keep crossing them. (Rick Pitino)
No matter how much you hate your current situation, quit gracefully. Burnt bridges only prove that your eyes once watered from the smoke. You may destroy an opportunity down the road by throwing gasoline and a lighted match at your old boss. Let me give you some more real life examples.
- Your old boss gets a job at the same company you went to. He is never again your boss. When they are reviewing internal resumes from several teams for a promotion, he mentions what you did upon leaving your old job. A confidential note is put in your employee file. For some reason you stop getting pay raises.
- A coworker who stayed hears about how you yelled at the boss, formatted your had drive and destroyed all your customer entries in the database. He eventually changes jobs. You apply for a job where he now works five years later. He hears about it and warns his company. You were the top candidate but don’t get the job.
- You apply for a job. The new hiring manager worked with your old boss 20 years ago. Your old boss is not on the reference list, but the hiring manager calls him anyway. They are friends. The company policy that they will only disclose your hire date, termination date and salary is ignored. The hiring manager can’t tell you what really happened because he has to protect his friend. You lose and never know why.
- The recruiter has a great job. He is excited to present you. The next day he says, “You just aren’t a fit.” He won’t elaborate. You are crestfallen. You never find out that he placed five people in your old company. When he was checking references he called someone who wasn’t on your list. He was warned about you.
You may feel great for few hours when you trash your old boss and company. If you already have a new job, it may even seem perfectly safe. These things have a way of coming back to haunt you. When you burn a bridge behind you, you may create a ghost that follows you for years.
Something to do today
Next time you are out with your friends ask them about the most dramatic bridge burning exits they have heard of.
Later: How to quit
The old boy network
Exploit the old boys
The money question