Don't Burn That Bridge When You Change Jobs

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    Don’t be so fast to take that job and shove it. Good things like recommendations, professional connections and positive references can come from the time you worked there if you leave on a good note. If you depart in haste, that momentary satisfaction could be forever burned in their mind.

    Don't Burn That Bridge When You Change Jobs

    The high-demand for nurses has resulted in plenty of opportunities if you're ready to pack up your stethoscope and favorite pen for a new nursing job. Maybe you've been looking for a while, or perhaps the perfect opportunity opened and you just can't wait to start. Don't be so hasty in your exit that you leave a bad impression. You might forget what you said, or did, as you skipped out the door, but most likely, everyone else didn't.

    Manners Still Matter

    You might be feeling unappreciated, or perhaps you didn't receive the encouraging farewell you hoped for, that doesn't mean you should drop your professionalism with your name tag. If you end your employment gracefully, it will serve you better than the brief satisfaction of letting them know what you really think.

    Exit with grace- You have many things you'd like to say, but an exit interview isn't the time to unburden all your frustrations. However, it can be if you can structure your comments in a professional manner. Believe it, or not, many managers do want to know how to improve the organization or identify relevant issues during the exit interview. However, presenting a list of vague, or unfounded, complaints only makes you look spiteful.

    They will notice- Unless it's unavoidable due to illness or extenuating circumstances, if you don't provide the required notice, they'll notice. Notice doesn't mean calling off during your final countdown. Even if the job is one you're dissatisfied with, calling off generally impacts your coworkers, or your patients when they're left understaffed.

    It's a small world after all- Thanks to the Internet, it's easier than ever to connect. Your new manager might be the friend, professional acquaintance, or former classmate of the manager you just abandoned. You won't start your new job off on the right foot if they hear how unprofessionally you exited your last one.

    You come with a special set of skills- That doesn't mean you have to leave your replacement in a lurch by not offering to help make your departure a smooth transition by instructing them on key duties. Aren't you hoping for the same courtesy at your new job?

    Your reputation might proceed you- You can have stellar skills, but if you leave a bad impression during your exit, that's what most people will remember. It also makes it uncomfortable to explain why you left without notice if you're interviewing for a new job. They're wondering if you'll do the same to them.

    Don't go viral with your venting- If you talk poorly about your organization, manager or coworkers on social media, it often gets back to them and it never makes you look good.

    The Grass Isn't Always Greener

    There are bad managers, bad jobs, or ones that might be a poor fit for you at your current stage of life. Things may change in your life that make that old job the perfect fit now, or that manager or coworker that drove you crazy may no longer work there.

    When you start a new job, everything is new and everyone is usually on their best behavior. Your new coworkers and boss want to impress you, and you want to impress them. When that wears off and the daily challenges and personalities are revealed, you might realize that your old job might not have been that bad, or perhaps you might start looking for another job.

    Consider the Three R's

    I'm not talking about reading, writing, and arithmetic. Even if you're happy with your new job, there are times when you might need to call upon your old manager for a letter of recommendation, a reference, or a referral. Perhaps you're going back to school or applying for a scholarship. Even if they don't have the memory of an elephant, most companies track resignations. This might remind them of how you bolted without a second thought, so they might wonder why they should give you one now.

    When You're the Boss

    This isn't the time to drag out all the reasons why you might be happy to see this employee move on. Even if you've vowed to never rehire this nurse, you're still representing your company and want to wrap up the exit interview on a positive note.

    Build, Don't Burn, Your Bridges

    You may have many jobs over your nursing career. You're not only building your skills at each one, you're creating your professional network. Nurture those relationships, so you can continue to grow personally and professionally.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14
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    24 Comments

  3. by   OldDude
    Good article. I come from an industrial construction background. Our motto? You never know who your boss is gonna be on the next job! Better be careful about burning bridges.
  4. by   Maureen Bonatch MSN
    Thank you! I can't agree more. You never know when you might have to cross that bridge again.
  5. by   KatieMI
    It all sounds great. Yet...

    The Powers that are can do what they are doing partially because they feel almost invincible. Workplace violence, unless it is about "protected categories" and expressed as such, is not punishable even in civil court. And "not getting bridges burned" tactic helps a lot with it. It is nice and easy to railroad someone if you know that this person will keep silent doesn't matter what.

    I didn't do that. I burned bridges with my first nursing job, where I was treated like gestapo prisoner, a bit later but the fire was burning long, bright and high. It did not affect anything but my not-to-hire status in that place, which was there anyway. Even more, I was courted by facilities which competed for highly qualified staff in the area with a view that I wouldn't have too many options to run away to if hired. Three years later, I have privileges in this very hospital as a provider and when the people from nursing administration accidentally bump on me, they clearly wish to just dissolve into thin air. They know that I did not shut up and that I won't keep silent if I see another nurse crying in the corner. And they better remember it for a good time.
    Last edit by KatieMI on Mar 21
  6. by   bagladyrn
    A good example of this: I walked into my latest contract position to find that the director of the unit was a nurse with whom I had worked in a completely different city about 10 years ago when she was a staff nurse. And yes we recognized each other.
  7. by   Maureen Bonatch MSN
    Kudos to you, Katie, for not being afraid to speak up! I would certainly not advocate staying silent with issues such as workplace violence or other unethical behavior. I'm sorry that you had this experience and I hope that your actions will lead to changes to these unprofessional practices.
  8. by   sallyrnrrt
    I always attempt to not burn a bridge,
    As I have had to crawl back over a few.
  9. by   RRTNurse
    Got to say, a good manager should question what he/she hears at exit interviews. While there are some who just want to spew, I've found the vast majority know not to poison the well. In fact, they are not just quiet about the reason they're leaving, they're borderline secretive.

    Recently as much as 40% of our staff left. Each gave the manager and HR a valid but unremarkable reason for leaving. However, the real reason for their leaving was known by a few of the staff, and it all came down to mandatory overtime. It wasn't until later investigations by spokespeople from HR (and promises of anonymity) that it was discovered that the overall unhappiness could be traced back to institutional policy.

    So while I do agree that some need to be told to keep quiet, it's been my experience that the majority do this and smart managers won't assume everything is fine if the canaries in the coal mine are starting to die... "Oh that canary was old", "Oh and that one just wanted to sleep"... LOL.
  10. by   NuGuyNurse2b
    "Your reputation might proceed you- "

    Sorry but the correct word is "precede" not proceed.
  11. by   Dikibo
    That's a good one.
    I resigned from my job and the reason was discussed with the CMD, who thought it was flimsy because it has to do with him.
    Weeks later I went back to get a document from the facility but I was denied even though I left on a clean note.I rested a while at least a month and got another job. Years later I got an invite for a better job.
    Guess what, was in the office when my former boss who also does part time came in and his mouth was opened for a while he could not comprehend the transition.
    We became colleagues not employer employee relationship.
  12. by   Maureen Bonatch MSN
    That's a good point. Often the manager needs to do a little detective work to uncover the real reason for the resignation, especially if there is a trend. LOL, love the canary example
  13. by   Maureen Bonatch MSN
    Good catch! Thanks so much for reading
  14. by   GitanoRN
    Excellent topic. Having said that, I graduated in 68" and began to work at the same hospital where I did my clinical. Moreover, I worked at that hospital from 68" till 94" when I came to USA and began working at the same facility where I'm presently at. Needless to say, I believe in growing roots wherever I chose to work. However, for two years I took a position as a flight nurse then travel/nurse just to get that out of my system sort of speak. Although, I returned back to the facility where I'm at after two years of exploring my options and expanding my knowledge. Unquestionably, I strongly believe that if one offers a high quality of nursing care wherever one goes your doors will always remain open. With that said, I wish my hair-stylist would adapt this notion...nah that will never happen... Aloha~

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