Why you should never burn bridges when you resign

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February 2022

Written by Adam Richardson (adam.richardson@arresourcing.com), Managing Director and Owner of AR Resourcing. Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the built environment industries.

The feeling of exhilaration when you land a new job is hard to beat, but when you have been unhappy in your current role the sense of relief, even liberation, can be overwhelming. And, with your escape mapped out, that can make it tempting to share your frustrations and anger. Don’t! 

While providing constructive feedback in an exit interview is very important, settling scores, sharing your true feelings or bad mouthing those around you (even though they deserve it) is never a good idea. Although construction is a huge industry, the reality is that most of us have specialisms within it which make it much more tight knit than you might first imagine and burning bridges can easily end up being a career limiting move.

Doubtless sharing a few home truths will deliver an immediate feeling of satisfaction, however candidates do lose out on roles because of it. In one instance the new employer asked for references from someone the candidate had been too frank with; another had their job offer rescinded after their new boss heard, via mutual acquaintances, of the candidate undermining their former employer. Colleagues will often reserve judgement on your criticisms until either they know you better or have a fuller picture, but the chances are your comments will make it harder to earn their trust and even then there may likely always linger a thought “If he/she did it to them, then he/she will do it to us”.

Even if no immediate consequences result from undermining former colleagues there are often longer term repercussions. The chances are that throughout the rest of your career you will depend to some extent on your network of clients, suppliers and colleagues past and present – it is one of the things that increases our value to employers. However, for the network to deliver its full benefit your contacts need to trust you and a reputation for unprofessional behaviour is hard to shake.

A further uncomfortable consequence of burning bridges is that, with networks being so tightly interwoven, it is common for former colleagues to find themselves reunited at other employers – oftentimes with the former reporting lines but other times with the manager-subordinate roles reversed. Those relationships can be hard to rebuild. 

If you’re not comfortable with what you should or shouldn’t say, run it past your recruitment consultant but start with the assumption that anyone in your network could become your manager, client or supplier. And if they don’t then one of their close contacts probably will. 

How to resign properly

  1. Make sure that you are comfortable with everything in your new contract before signing.
  2. Reread your current contract so you are familiar with your contractual obligations.
  3. Write a resignation letter
    • Start with the date and your name
    • Address it to you line manager
    • State the position you are resigning from and when your last day will be (look at your contract for notice period)
    • State your intention to minimise disruption by completing a full handover
    • Thank the employer for the opportunity and experience
    • Sign off including contact information
  4. Having written the letter schedule a meeting with you manager and consider what you want to say before handing them the envelope. Be prepared for questions about your reasons for leaving, where you are going, and why that job.
  5. In the meeting be professional and honest with your manager without overstepping the mark. If they make a counter offer ask for time to think about it and read our article “Why you should never accept a counter offer” (https://www.arresourcing.com/recruitment-blog/why-you-should-never-accept-a-counter-offer/).
  6. Hand over the letter and provide a copy to HR.

So when is it safe to settle scores and tell them all the home truths you’ve been biting your lip about for the last two years? Once you’ve retired. 

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: adam.richardson@arresourcing.com or call 0330 174 6801.

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