Have you ever had one of those work days where you feel under-appreciated, overworked, miserable or all of the above? Maybe you took a job only to find out your manager was unethical or possibly even crazy! Whatever category you fall under, you may have jumped to the solution of walking out with no warning or notice – just up and leave.
I’m sure that instant feeling of freedom is wonderful at first, but what happens next? Do you have interviews lined up or other opportunities to pursue? My guess is that this decision was in the moment and not a lot of thought went into the aftermath.
Having seen this situation unfold before, here are a few reasons why you should never burn your bridges.
- “Why did you leave your last position?” Don’t be surprised if this question comes up during a phone screen or interview. Hiring managers don’t typically offer jobs to candidates who bash their previous employer during an interview (regardless of the reason). While you can answer professionally without badmouthing your old boss, it will be hard to prove you are a reliable candidate when you left your last job with no notice.
- References. Many hiring managers ask for 2-3 professional references before making a formal offer. Of the 2-3 they prefer at least one to be from your most recent hiring manager. Even if you were completely professional in your reason for leaving, telling a hiring manager “Sorry, I won’t be able to get a reference from my last manager because I left without notice” probably won’t get you an offer.
- Networking. Many job seekers put “references available upon request” at the bottom of their resumes, but some managers don’t always need to request one. It is very possible that they have connections at a company you have previously worked for (especially if it is a direct competitor). Before they even decide to interview you, they will call their connection and get the scoop. If you left on a bad note, I wouldn’t expect an interview.
- The Job Market. Freedom feels great until you realize you have been unemployed for 2 months. The job market has been tight these last few years and many have struggled to find the job they want. While your reasons for leaving may be justifiable, leaving a job with nothing to fall back on is extremely risky.
As bad as your job may seem, try to stick it out until you can line up some interviews. Use your spare time outside of work to find new employment. At the very least, you have a job with a paycheck and can leave on a good note. Every situation is different, but in any case it is better to try to build a bridge, not burn it. You never know if you will have to cross that bridge again one day!