Frustrated person in front of a laptop

Why You Should Never Leave Your Job On Bad Terms

It has been eight years since I’ve been in the workforce, and I’m on my fifth job.


No, no, no, I was not fired – I was just seeking greener pastures. Gotta present that disclaimer first in case it taints the core message I want to send to all of you.


The core message? Don’t leave your job on bad terms.


Unless you are blessed with a fulfilling job that pays well with an amazing and understanding superior (and you are not one to get bored easily), you are likely to change jobs at least once in your lifetime. But just as much as people are focused on creating a good first impression, your final impression will be the lasting impression.


1. People gossip.

Two employees talking in the break room

Unless you are the only person working in the company, it is likely that office gossip will arise, even if it is a male-dominated office (been there, done that). A little can be harmless, bringing needed distraction at work. But sometimes, it can prove to be toxic. It does not matter if the destructive colleague at work is ruining your reputation with lies and half-truths or if your boss is totally unreasonable, maintain your professionalism because you do not want people to continue gossiping about you after you step out of the office for good.


Some may say “Who cares, I’m not there anymore.”


While that is true, the circumstances of how you left might be the topic of discussion days and months after you say goodbye. I’ve heard stories that went “Omg, that person that left before you came did this and did that…” Though I don’t know the person personally, I know the drama that went down. Now, you can’t stop people from talking, but you can make your exit a dignified one.


2. Don’t cut the cord on opportunities.

Have you ever looked back on your experiences and wished you could have been nicer, kinder, slower to act? I have.  And it is with that same regret that I tell you to leave your jobs on good terms, so you won’t cut the cord on opportunities that may present themselves later in life.


I have had mean bosses before (yes, plural), and when I handed in the resignation letter, I was so tempted to spew out my disappointment, critique and probably hoped that the business venture would crumble – yes, I was that angry! But I was so glad I held my tongue.


I never crossed paths with my ex-boss again, but I did cross paths with his confidants five years later, who went on to provide me with work opportunities. Now, imagine if I kicked up a fuss and left on bad terms. I would have kissed my future opportunities goodbye.


3. Don’t let anger taint your character.

Frustrated person in front of a laptop

Anger is not the issue. We all have the right to get angry when we have been wrongly treated. However, it is the action taken when a person is angry that has consequences. It may dent a person’s character.


The foundation that constitutes professionalism is self-control. Therefore, unless a situation requires you to leave the establishment immediately, like an assault, for example, I would suggest that you go through a proper resignation process which is to:

  • Pick the right time leave
  • Write a proper resignation letter
  • Honour your contract/notice period (however, if there is an urgent need to leave before the end of your notice period, speak to your superiors first to strike up a solution)
  • Wrap up and transition your work
  • Thank your colleagues and bosses


That way, you uphold your character, and they might even be sorry to see you go.


4. Your future employer might give your previous employer a holler.

Guy calling someone on the phone at work

The last thing you want happening to you is for your previous employer to put in a non-favourable comment to your prospective employer. As much as we don’t think it happens, employers looking to give you a job might contact your former employer or outsource it to an agency to do the detective work. Most want to ensure that whatever you wrote in your resume about your previous employment is true, and not a made-up story.


But of course, when they go through the trouble to call your ex-company, surely they won’t pass up on asking how you did well and the reason for leaving. If there was a lot of drama that came with you leaving your job, it may be a topic of conversation, at your expense. Yikes!



Ladies and gentlemen, as tempting as it may seem, I would advise that you forgo the cheap revenge. Short term pleasure never reaps long term results. Even if you think your two-month notice is too much to bear, I want to cheer you on because your last day at work will come, and self-control will reap results that you will only notice a few years down the road, when you look back at your journey.


Trust the process.

A concoction of oxymoronic attributes, Rachel Yeoh is a lazy overachiever. She writes for a living, sings when the sun goes down and runs a homemade granola company with whatever is left of her time. Always planning for something to do while procrastinating on her bed - she is quick to be on her feet at any chance to travel.

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