Exploring other career paths is completely normal, but you may be worried about hurting your relationship with your current employer. While some people go with the mentality that “it’s just business, nothing personal,” that approach can seem cold. There are easy ways to make sure you don’t burn any bridges with your current employer, leaving you free to return if you ever want to in the future.

  1. Don’t Let Rumors Fly
    You probably have work friends that you are just dying to tell about your job search. This tip is simple, keep your mouth shut. Just don’t talk about it until you know what your next step is. Your work friends are only human and the information is bound to get around. If it reaches your manager before you get to tell them, you risk hurting your relationship and losing their trust.
  2. Don’t Trash Talk
    This is especially true when you are interviewing for a new job. The world is small and employers frequently travel in the same circles. When the dreaded, “Why are you leaving your current position?” question comes up, be ready to get diplomatic. You may want to answer that your new manager is overbearing, or your compensation package is awful, but avoid making your current employer look bad. Not only could it get back to them, it will likely make your new employer think twice about how you’ll treat them when you leave.
  3. Don’t be Sneaky
    People are going to notice if you are constantly slipping off for “smoke breaks” when you don’t even smoke. Make sure your phone has a professional voice mail message recorded and call recruiters back when it is appropriate. You aren’t as stealthy as you think, and sneaking around is a big red flag to employers.
  4. Job Search on Your Own Time
    This is really hard to say, because let’s be honest looking for a new job often happens during the day. You want to catch hiring managers while they are at work, which is often during your work day as well. Try and schedule phone screens during lunch, and do job applications after your work day is done. It may be tempting to just do the apps at your desk, but it’s just a bad idea all around. Your employer likely has access to your online activity and seeing you’ve spent most of your work day crafting your exit strategy will leave a bad impression.
  5. Give Plenty of Notice
    You might be tempted to give the minimum amount of notice required to avoid drama or awkward days of being transitioned out. However, once you have officially signed on with another company, it’s a good idea to let your current employer know. They need time to find your replacement, and possibly have you train them. Leaving suddenly can cause your employer a lot of extra work and headache not to mention potential resentment.
  6. Create an Exit Plan
    One of the best things I’ve ever done when leaving a job is creating detailed instructions about the routine work in that role. I developed a legacy binder for the next person in my position that included timeframes, scope of work outlines, and the most helpful people to contact in the organization for certain information. Leaving clear documentation about what your position entails will make the transition process easier, and show your employer you value their continued success.
  7. Be Honest (but be nice)
    Seasoned bosses know that good employees have a lot of reasons for leaving. Some reasons have to do with the company and some don’t. Lying to your boss and saying that it’s all on you is probably going to seem pretty fake. Exit interviews are set up to give both sides constructive feedback on what worked and what didn’t. Tell your employer what your reasons are for seeking other employment and you just might find a better workplace waiting for you if you decide to return.
  8. Leave Contact Information
    Sure, you’ll give your work friends your email, but have you considered that your manager might need it also? Letting your employer know how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions can go a long way. They might discover they can’t find a folder full of quarterly reports one day, and realize you are the only person with that knowledge. Give them the ability to reach out to you if they need something.
  9. Connect Online
    Tools like LinkedIn and XPlace (for freelancers) can help you to stay in touch with your former job. This will help make it easier for you to stay up-to-date and find new positions if you do see yourself returning to the company one day. It will also show your employer that you want to stay connected to the workplace.
  10. Say a Real Goodbye
    When the clock strikes 5pm on your last day, don’t be hovering by the door with your coat on ready to run. Make sure your coworkers know how much you appreciated working with them, and how much you wish them the best. It’s also a good idea to stop by and thank any managers or bosses that helped you reach your goals while at your current job. During my last days at my favorite job, I scheduled meetings with the key influencers who taught me the most while I worked there. I genuinely appreciated their help, and without sucking up or laying it on thick, I thanked them for their guidance.The job you move to might be fantastic, but it’s always a great idea to maintain a positive relationship with your old workplace. It will help give you a solid reputation in your field and give you the flexibility to return if you ever want to rejoin the company.


So which tips did we miss? What mishaps did you experience when you left your last job? For the employers among us – tell us about the most memorable experience you had with one of your employees who quit…