How to not burn bridges in the great resignation wave

Vincent Chu
3 min readJul 30, 2021

The HR industry and business leaders are speaking of this great resignation wave that’s happening right now — data seem to show that the trend is accelerating. This also means that for many people, they may be quitting their very first job in the next few months.

While many universities teach students the skills they need to land a job and they conduct workshops on how to interview successfully, almost no one teaches how to properly quit a job. Everyone knows having a great first impression matters, few especially those in their first jobs realize that the “last impression” is just as important if not more. Thinking back, I could have done better in some areas myself!

When people think of burning bridges…

When people think of burning bridges, they think of (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻. As long as you’re not flipping the table or undrilling the cubicle on your last day (think the cult classic Office Space), it’s not burning bridges right? In reality, it is a lot more nuanced.

Examples of basically setting the bridge on fire

  • Rage quitting and getting physical (!) at the office
  • Sending a not-so-nice goodbye email to everyone in the organization about someone or the company

Those two examples are common sense. In my career, I’ve only seen one or two such blatant bridge arsonists.

Leaving a not-so-good last impression…

Some actions are not so black-and-white, at least they’re not illegal. But they show a lack of respect for others and reflect poorly on the person’s judgement and personality. It doesn’t matter how long you have worked at that place, but what you do in the last two weeks is what your coworkers will remember you for a very long time.

  • Stealing from the office — I don’t mean returning half used tissue boxes, I think those are safe to keep, but trust me people notice when you’re packing a box of stationeries and IT supplies.
  • Give no notice — Two-week minimum notice is standard and most people know that. What some people don’t seem to understand is that taking almost all 10 business days as sick leave or vacation during the notice period is the same as giving no notice.
  • Destroying company properties — Obviously you shouldn’t baseball-bat printers, but…
Vincent Chu

I'm an engineering leader in a SAS company with more than 15 years of software industry experience.