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 Don’t Burn Bridges Along the Way

By Joe Stein

A key to success in most areas, is the ability to create and maintain positive relationships with others. This is especially true and important for individuals in regards to job search related matters. Unfortunately, for some, negative emotions come into play that cloud judgment and inhibit a person’s ability to stay positive and professional.
There is no denying that relationships are critical to a person’s job search success. This is true not only in terms to a current situation, but also potential future job pursuits. If you are scratching your head right now regarding what relationships can be so critical, let’s refresh your memory with a short list of examples. I will break it out by the key relationships during a job search, along with those impacted by your giving notice.
Job Search Relationships:
• Recruiters – You may deal with various Recruiters during your job search, either those who work for a targeted employer or for an agency. Your connections with Recruiters (of course) will not always end in a job offer, but you can always leave this person with a positive impression. You can do this by striving to be accessible or calling back promptly. Don’t forget to thank the Recruiter for his/her time. If you are fortunate enough to receive feedback, please accept it willingly without becoming defensive. Keep in mind that you are not only pursuing this position with the Recruiter, but also future positions. A good Recruiter will keep a database of contacts who they feel are potentially good candidates depending on the position. • Hiring Managers – Similar, to an internal Recruiter, you want to stay professional and maintain a good relationship with a Hiring Manager. This is especially true if you have not been selected for a position. The Hiring Manager may want to keep you in mind for future positions, especially if the person that is selected does not work out. You may also leave such a positive impression that the Hiring Manager may recommend you for a position in a different area of the company. Accept the decision not to hire you with grace and request any possible feedback. Provide thanks for the opportunity and the time expended.
• Current References – You always want to maintain your key relationships. There are not many relationships that can be more important than the short list of people you use as a reference. Always thank your references after a job search event, and reach out to these people from time-to-time to refresh the relationship. Don’t ever let these people feel like you take them for granted.
Notice Period Relationships:
• Your Current Manager – Regardless of how you feel about your current manager, it is important to leave on a good note and maintain a solid relationship. Your current manager can potentially play a role with a reference in a future job search. You also never know when paths may cross in the future, as WNY can certainly be a small world. Your current manager may turn out to be your future manager somewhere down the road.
• Current Co-Workers – You will want to resign professionally and not brag about your new job, or criticize people on your way out. Just like with your current manager, you may need to work with these people in the future. Also, you may want to use a peer or a business partner as a reference some time.
• Current Company In General – I recommend always taking the high road and not criticizing your employer during your notice period. You will have to decide whether or not to participate in an official exit survey, but (again) I would limit any negative or controversial feedback provided. Please keep in mind that if you have negative feelings, take into consideration that by resigning, you’ve already “gotten back” at your employer. Nothing else is needed.
It may seem like common sense to not burn any bridges during your job search and notice period, however, we are all human and emotions can sometimes cause us to make wrong decisions. It is important to not only consider the short-term, but also the long-term consequences of your actions. It is rarely in your best interest to behave in a way where you permanently harm a relationship. While “telling someone off” may make you feel good in the moment, you may have unforeseen negative consequences from your decision. Take the “high road” and stay positive. You probably do not like someone who brags or is negative, so why be that person, especially when it is not in your best interest.
As always, best of luck in your job search!