Clark Howard’s Formula for Leaving a Job Without Burning Bridges

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Over the past couple of years, American workers have been leaving their jobs in droves, with many of them abruptly resigning their positions to work elsewhere.

There's a right way and a wrong way to part ways with your employer, says money expert Clark Howard.

Thinking About Quitting Your Job? Read This

If not done the right way, being part of the “Great Resignation,” as it’s been dubbed, has the potential to create bad feelings between you and your former employer. This could harm your chances of being rehired or the possibility of using one of your co-workers as a reference.

According to the latest jobs report released by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 4.5 Americans quit their jobs in March 2022, which represents 3% of the workforce.

Let’s say you’ve considered the financial ramifications and made up your mind to leave your job. How should you go about it? Clark has some thoughts.

How To Quit a Job (the Right Way)

“First of all, you always make leaving your job about you and not your employer. You say how much you’ve loved working there and offer significant notice,” Clark says.

Let’s elaborate a little on that advice with some steps to take when leaving your job that will ensure you don’t burn any bridges.

Put in a Several Weeks’ Notice if You Can

Leaving the job abruptly won’t score you any points with your employer, Clark says.

“I believe that the two-week notice is the absolute minimum,” he says. “Today a huge percentage of people are quitting jobs and walking out the door right away. Bad news: That does burn bridges.”

Clark believes that putting in more than two weeks’ notice will likely leave a lasting and positive impression on your way out the door. “If you offer to stay for four weeks — twice what has been customary — you’re not going to burn any bridges at all,” he says.

In Your Resignation Letter, Stick to Positive Themes

If you write in your resignation letter that you're looking for a fresh start, Clark recommends that you let that be the reason you state for leaving. "You're looking for a fresh start, and you feel like this is the time in your life you should do it: all positive themes," he says.

People choose to leave jobs all the time for numerous reasons, including more pay, better work-life balance or just not feeling fulfilled by their jobs. While all of those reasons could be valid, you want to make any feedback you give generally upbeat in nature.

Sharing bad experiences with your higher-ups could have the effect of creating resentment among your superiors.

In Your Conversations With Co-Workers, Make Your Leaving About You

In any conversation about why you’re leaving, make it a point to keep the focus on yourself. “Make everything about what you’re doing positive,” Clark says.

And what about the inquisitive co-worker who probes by asking: "Well, what is it about here that you don't like?"

Clark recommends this kind of response: "'Well, I really love this place,' even if you don't quite love it," he says. "You stay positive because anything, even an inkling of negativity you put out there, will go toward burning a bridge."

Final Thoughts

As the days wind down to your exit, resist the urge to cast your employer in a bad light. Once you’ve taken the high road, Clark recommends you stay there by keeping the focus on yourself instead of any job conditions you’re not happy with.

“This is about you, not them: doing things with the utmost positive character and being excited about this future that you haven’t even necessarily figured out yet,” he says.

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