Avoid Burning Your Bridges

A little while back I shared my decision to try to get a new job. At the time I was quite optimistic about my potential to land a job fairly quick. I’d love to say this post is about how I scored a sweet job, but unfortunately the job search is still ongoing.

As some of you may recall I was hoping to go back to work for one of my previous employers. One of them had mentioned a possible offer and it seemed the other would be interested in hiring me again. Largely due to circumstances outside of my control, I did not get an immediate job with either one.

This setback initially filled me with disappointment and negative thoughts about my career’s future. Combined with my recent break up, nothing seemed to be going my way. It was a bad time to be a pessimist to say the least.

Lately though I’ve been taking some positive steps to get my life back on track. It’s opened up a new perspective on things and I’m starting to feel more optimistic.

Although I didn’t get a job with one of my previous employers this time around, I do want to acknowledge the importance of avoiding burning your bridges.

Crossing Existing Bridges For New Employment

When we leave a job, there are often things that made us unhappy and more willing to leave. We have to remember that circumstances change and we grow as individuals. So most of the time I do make an effort to leave jobs on good terms. You never know when you might end up going back to work from them in the future.

Twice I have actually gone back to work for a previous employer. On other occasions I have received job offers from old bosses which I ended up turning down. It is quite satisfying knowing that people you’ve worked for in the past still value your skills and what you can contribute to their company.

Besides being good for self esteem, it can also make the job search a lot less stressful. You don’t feel that same apprehension when going to meet with someone that you’ve already worked for. You generally know what they expect and you’re under less pressure to impress them. They’re unlikely to be grilling you with difficult interview questions or taking notes on everything you say. It’s more of an informal chat with an old friend.

Even if you don’t go back to work for them, at least it will sometimes give you more options.

Previous Connections Leading To Other Opportunities

While avoiding burned bridges can directly land you a new job, there are also a variety of ways it can lead to employment elsewhere.

The most obvious way is that those employers then become a strong reference to use on your resume. A fellow coworker can be a good reference, but your actual boss is a much stronger reference. That is the person who has been monitoring your work and taking mental note of your work habits. It’s not someone who just enjoyed eating their lunch with you.

They also have a better perspective about what potential employers are looking for. Instead of talking in general terms, they’re more likely to cite specific examples of why you’d make a great employee. They really know what you have to offer.

The other way leaving a job on good terms can help gain employment is via your boss’s contacts. If you leave a good impression, that boss may recommend you to their friends and urge them to hire you. Chances are high that an employer would have contacts who are also employers themselves. I’ve landed one of my jobs that way.


So just because you might not immediately need favors from your old boss, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t need their help in the future. Avoiding burning your bridges can keep more doors open and help your career in the long run.

It’s also a good idea to keep contact with those previous employers even in times when you don’t need anything from them. Just chatting once in a while keeps you on their radar and strengthens those bonds.

Have you personally benefited from avoiding burned bridges? Or have you burned bridges that you later regretted? Maybe you have some tips to help keep those relationships strong.

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