HOW TO: Not Burn Bridges When You Resign | Personal Branding Blog - Dan Schawbel

As the job market bounces back, top talent is moving on from organizations that treated them less than fair during the Great Recession. Regardless, my policy is to never burn a bridge if you can help it. Is it possible to resign on good terms? Absolutely!

Remove emotion from the situation

Tread carefully by goosmurf.

Easier said than done, I know, but your brand is at stake if you don’t. Treat the situation as a business – not personal – decision. After all, life-altering decisions such as resigning from a job should be approached with a cool head and not taken lightly.

Schedule a meeting

Don’t just waltz into your boss’ office unannounced. Always schedule a meeting in advance, and let him or her know you’d like to discuss your position at the organization. That way, your supervisor can mentally prepare.

Get it in writing

Like all business transactions, resigning from a job should be in writing for the organization’s records. Make sure you include the important information right up front: the fact that you are resigning and the effective date of your resignation.

In the second paragraph, thank your supervisor for as many things as possible – wonderful learning opportunities, great co-workers, etc. Go out on a high note even if you are leaving for a bad reason!

In the final paragraph, offer to help find and train a replacement for yourself, and wish your supervisor and the organization the best of luck in the future. Again, no matter what your supervisor’s reaction might be, you want to take the high road the whole way.

Note that I did not instruct you to include information about why you are leaving or where you are going. You will likely be asked this during an exit interview, but do not need to include it in your resignation letter.

Keep your promises

Did you promise to help find your replacement? Do it. Did you assure your supervisor you’d help train the next person in your role? Don’t back out.

What other tips would you suggest to not burn bridges when resigning from a job?


Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, an exclusive online community connecting the best internship and entry-level job candidates with the best employers. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for and blogs about career advice at

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