Water under the bridge: Leaving your job

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Consider the following two scenarios: It’s time to leave your per hour, minimum wage position and move on to bigger and better things. Do you say goodbye, turn your back and walk away? No!

Or, if you’re in your new career and for unforeseen reasons you’re let go. Do you say, “So long, thanks for nothing”?  No!

Don’t burn your bridges. Always maintain a positive relationship with your management team—you never know how it can benefit you in the future.

Most of us have either left a company or have been let go before, and we often don’t know if we should ever talk to our former managers again. I say we should. We should stay in touch, maintain a relationship and always follow up. Even if you feel that you left on bad terms, there are ways to rebuild that relationship. Be appreciative of what you learned and the knowledge you built in that position.

It’s important to keep in touch with these individuals. No matter what your next position is—a position after school to help pay for bills or your first career-launching opportunity—you’re always going to need references and industry contacts.  Your references can make or break your entry into a new organization.

You also never know what types of opportunities lie down the road. If your internship has employed 50 other people in the same position, the person who continued to stay in touch and maintained a positive relationship with their former manager will be the one who is top of mind for any permanent opportunities with the same organization.

How do you continue this relationship?

Here are a few tips for preserving a good connection with your former managers:

Ask your managers for their contact information, including work and personal phone numbers and email addresses

It’s important to get both work and personal contact information in case they also decide to leave the organization. It will be tough to provide a new potential employer with references if your former managers have also moved on to new opportunities.

Keep in touch through social networking

I personally think the best and most professional networking site is LinkedIn.  Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a great way to stay connected, but for some of us, it’s a little too personal to share with your management team.

Stay up-to-date on the company

If it’s an organization you’re really interested in working with in the future, keep your eyes on the company for news and updates. It’s a great way to maintain conversation with your former managers and co-workers over the years. Ask questions, ask for advice or tell them about how things are going with your studies. Don’t annoy them, just let them know about your ongoing interest.

Follow up regularly, but not too often

It’s best to follow up with in the first two months, then every four to six months on an ongoing basis. Use your best judgment when following up. It’s a good idea to keep them up to date with your contact information as well; you never know when they may have an opportunity for you.

Relationships will become a huge part of your personal and career development. It’s tough to like everyone—especially when you’re let go—but it’s easy enough to be a genuinely honest and respectful professional.

Let the water flow under the bridge and don’t burn it down!

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About the author

Peter Coulson is an account manager at TalentEgg, focused on developing relationships with top quality employers and educators across Canada. Peter describes himself as a born entrepreneur: at an early age, he helped lead a successful renovations and construction business. After developing his skills in the trades, he worked his way up the ladder in sales, including in retail, finance, and IT recruitment. He has recently completed sales training courses as well as an advertising and sales copywriting course at the University of Toronto.