3 Things You Should Never Do When You Leave a Job

    Cheryl Hayatt

    When you leave a job, your responsibility as a reliable employee doesn’t completely end on your last day.

    That’s the message executive-search expert Cheryl Hayatt shares with employers, employees and businesses as a whole. If you want the respect of your next employer, think about what you said and did at your last employer, Hyatt says.

    The success of any organization is due in large part to the culture it fosters. As a new employee, you can decide to either be a drag or a positive influence on that culture — and your choice can have long-term ripple effects, for you and for your colleagues.

    Don’t let your desire to make friends and “fit in” with your new employer trigger bad behaviors that may burn the bridges that helped you get there in the first place, says Hyatt, co-founder of Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search.

    So, what kinds of habits should you avoid? Here are three must-NOT-dos:

    DON’T be a stranger at your former company.
    Your previous bosses and coworkers invested themselves in your career advancement because they wanted to see you succeed. Even though you’re no longer a daily part of their lives, they still want to know that you’re doing well — and that you’re making them look good by association.

    If you left on good terms, always make an effort to stay in touch with your old coworkers and managers. You can’t talk to them every day, but you should make an effort to reach out several times a year to catch up. They’ll enjoy seeing where your career leads you next, and they’ll appreciate your gratitude for what you learned from them along the way. Maintaining a healthy network can help unlock future opportunities both for you and for them. Plus, you never know when you’ll have a chance to work together again.

    DON’T bad-mouth your past associates.
    At your new job, it can feel natural to make friends by complaining about your shared frustrations. But resist the temptation to gossip about your previous coworkers or your past company as a whole. You don’t want your new colleagues to wonder what you’ll say about them at your next job.

    Instead, choose to be positive about what you learned at your last stop, and show your new friends how excited you are to be part of your new company. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Wouldn’t you prefer your new colleagues to think of you as “the upbeat, positive person” instead of “just another complainer?”

    DON’T violate an NDA.
    They’re called nondisclosure agreements for a reason: you can’t share your old company’s proprietary secrets or competitive advantages with anyone. Sure, it can be tempting to think that no one will ever find out if you mention something off-hand that was covered in an NDA. But even if no one finds out, you will still have damaged your credibility with your current company. If you don’t show loyalty to a previous employer, why should your new employer think you’d show it to them?