Many future careers have been decided by how one responds to leaving a job: whether you’ve decided to quit, you’ve been laid off or fired.

Think about it: you might be mad, upset or frustrated when you walk in to your boss’ office to quit or you might feel a great injustice has been committed when you are told your services are no longer required!

Resist the temptation to tell them how you really feel!!

Now is the time to think with your brain, not your heart.

Burning bridges with your former employer could very likely sabotage your future search for employment.

In smaller, tight-knit, well-connected industries and communities, it’s likely that your previous boss can yield a tremendous amount of power over your next position.  And while many corporate lawyers discourage companies from giving official references of former employees, but you can guarantee that there’s a lot of ‘off-the-record’ phone calls and conversations that will go on amongst industry peers.

Here’s some tips that can help you to avoid falling into this trap.

1.)  If you are in an exit interview with your soon-to-be ex-boss, resist the temptation to ‘go off.’  Reminding your former boss about what an incompetent boob you thought they were might make you feel good – for about 5 minutes.  Fact is, if they were that bad of a boss, they would probably enjoy knowing they got under your skin so bad.

Instead, have a professional, unemotional conversation and leave them thinking about what WENT right while you were employed there.  If you are courteous you will leave with your dignity and self-esteem preserved.

2.)  When you are interviewing for a new job, resist the temptation to bad mouth your former boss or company.   If you are talking smack about your previous boss, your future boss is thinking about what THEY have to look forward to if they hire you!  If asked, talk about the things you LIKED at your old company and about the things you were proud you accomplished.

But also be prepared to answer why your former job wasn’t a good fit and didn’t work out.  You are not the first one to leave a job because it wasn’t the right match and most people will understand, but be honest, graceful and don’t trash your former boss or place of employment.

3.) Try and keep positive performance reviews from your previous job or other accolades from co-workers, peers, bosses, clients or vendors.   To counter any bad-blood that might have occurred at your previous job, try to identify an ally there that might be willing to give you a recommendation if needed.

4.) Perhaps most importantly, have an interview with yourself and ask yourself why your job didn’t work out.  What were the qualities of your boss or the culture of the workplace that didn’t fit with you?  Were there things that you could have done differently?  Are there areas of your personality or work habits that might need some modifying?  Use the experience to help you avoid future situations and to discover what type of work environment would be best for you.

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