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Ways to Stay on Good Terms With Your Old Boss

By Edited May 19, 2016 2 4

People leave jobs for many reasons. Sometimes a person wants to resign because he or she found a better career opportunity, and other times it is simply due to a need to move on. If you find yourself in this position, whatever the reason you have for leaving a job, it is always in your best interest to stay on good terms with your former boss.

Quitting time.Woman looking at clock
Credit: Alan Cleaver via Flickr/CC by 2.0

As eager as you might be to move to the next chapter of your life, it's a good idea to try to stay on terms with your former boss.

Aside from being the professional thing to do, the benefits of staying on good terms with a former employer are many. You never know when you might need a reference or, depending on the industry circle, you might even end up working for or with your boss in another capacity.  Also, keeping in touch with former colleagues is a great way to network.

If you want to stay on good on good terms with your former boss, there are many ways you can do this.

Provide Notice When Leaving

It is always helpful to employers when exiting employees give their bosses with plenty of notice. Two weeks is generally the standard period of time, but if you can give more notice - that will probably be even more appreciated. 

Employees that leave with little or no notice aren't likely to stay in the good graces of the former boss. Leaving without notice is likely not going to be remembered fondly, especially if it leaves the organization in a pinch. Bosses typically appreciate ample notice because it gives them time to hire a replacement and/or train for your position. Additionally, it also gives colleagues time to adjust to you leaving, as they will be affected too.

Leave Tasks Up-To-Date

It is not uncommon when people leave jobs that they become so immersed in what they need to do going forward, they sometimes leave a big mess behind. If you have deadlines to be met, try to meet them before you go. If time permits after catching up on unfinished work, perhaps leave behind a checklist or other information for your replacement.

Office desk
Credit: skeeling221/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Leaving a clear desk is helpful to your former employer to transition a new person to take over.

Another thing you can do is write an outline of what you do daily and offer some tips in getting these tasks done. It can help any coworkers who have to cover your job and may not be familiar with it and/or be helpful to your replacement on the job. Depending on the nature of your job, time may not permit you to do this and it is not considered to be an obligation, but it’s a nice gesture. Leaving behind some helpful information will be remembered well by both your former boss and colleagues.

Be Graceful

Anytime you leave a job, do it gracefully.  Be professional and treat your old boss with the same respect you would if he or she was your new boss. Additionally, if invited to one, be sure to attend the exit interview and answer all questions with tact, yet be honest. This is one aspect of job separation that employers typically value because it helps them gather information moving forward, providing them with insight to things they may want to change.

Send a Thank You Card After You Exit

A nice, and memorable, gesture is to send your former boss a thank you note or card as you exit the organization. Thank your employer for the experience and perhaps even share something you learned from him or her that you believe will enhance your career going forward. Offering this type of compliment is likely to leave a good impression of you.

Thank you card
Credit: PixArc/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Don't Badmouth Your Job or Employer

If you left your job with ill feelings, it's best to keep those to yourself, especially when communicating on social media. Word tends to get around and, in today's digital society comments, can easily be forwarded. A boss isn't going to hold much respect for anyone badmouthing colleagues or the organization itself if he or she gets wind of any unflattering comments made. Plus it just looks bad. Stay away from any temptation to gossip or bad-talk anything associated with your former job.

If things were really unpleasant and played a role your exit, as many mothers over the generations have said to their children, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Keep in Touch / Send Holiday Cards

As you are getting ready to leave, ask for contact information. Periodically, drop your former boss a note, ask how he or she is and make general small talk. It's appropriate to offer brief details on how you are doing also.  Heard your old boss got a promotion or a new job? Send him or her a congratulatory note. Or, if you see an article online that you think your former boss would enjoy reading, by all means send that along in an email. It's likely to be appreciated.

Businessman reading business section of newspaper
Credit: Unsplash/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Another way to keep up the relationship is to mail holiday cards either to your boss directly or to the office itself wishing them the best. It lets them know you care enough to be thinking of them. As Forbes recommends, you probably want to steer clear of humor cards. 2 Choose a simple generic card with a kind sentiment.

When exiting an organization, leaving on good terms is a professional way to approach even a bad situation. If the experience has been good, then there is no reason not to stay on good terms. By taking just a few extra steps, you can remain on good terms with your old boss. The primary thing, however, is not to burn your bridges.

Related Reading: [ Careers: What To Do If You Have Burnout ]

Credit: Nappiness/Pixabay CC0 Public Domain


Jan 24, 2016 3:31pm
When I left working at a workshop for developmentally-challenged adults, due to illness, other staff wanted me to really go out with a bang. I chose not to do that, and I was so glad because I needed them as a job reference several years later. It really isn't wise to burn any bridges.
Jan 26, 2016 4:19pm
Totally agree! You just never know. (Plus, I guess I don't see any benefit to leaving on bad terms...)
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on this.
Feb 23, 2016 6:42pm
Its all about making and keeping connections. Excellent read
Feb 24, 2016 4:14am
Thanks so much for reading and commenting, appreciated
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  1. Alexandra Levit, Author and Consultant "The Right Way to Quit a Job." The Washington Post. 25/09/2007. 19/01/2016 <Web >
  2. "5 Ways to Stay in Touch With Your Old Boss." Forbes. 19/04/2012. 19/01/2016 <Web >

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