Shaking hands having a good work relationship - not burning bridges while looking for a new job

So, you’re offered your dream job -- now what?

You’re excited for your next adventure, but first things first: time to quit your current job.

Whether you were passively looking or dying for a change, always leave on a positive note. Easier said than done, but we’ve got you covered. Below are the best ways to avoid burning bridges and to secure future references.

First impressions matter…

… But last impressions stick. While you’re interviewing, stay on top of your work. It can be hard to juggle interviews while maintaining your day job, but it’s important to leave with a strong reputation. Keep your hours consistent and if you have goals, keep hitting them. Make it easy for your manager to recommend you to future employers.

Be prepared

Before scheduling your resignation meeting, make sure you’ve considered and prepped for the following topics:

  • Future plans. Do you have another job lined up? If so, make sure that offer is signed, sealed, and delivered to avoid any chance of being left jobless. Remember, you aren’t obligated to share information about your new role if you would rather keep it confidential.
  • Resignation letter. Submit a letter of resignation to your manager and HR — it’s important to have all information in writing. Include: your intent for leaving, preferred last day, transition plan (how you’ll help and hand off projects), and your contact information.
  • Your last day. Determine your preferred last day of work. Two weeks is the standard notice, but if you offer to stay longer, some teams will appreciate it. You could be asked to leave sooner than you think (sometimes even that day!), so be ready for any situation.
  • Competing offer. Know what you’ll say in response to: “If we raise your salary by X amount, will you stay?”
  • Your last paycheck. Ask what day you’ll receive your final paycheck — it might not be during your normal pay period.
  • Unused vacation and sick days. If you have leftover PTO, see what your company policy is on reimbursement (it’s oftentimes paid out in a lump sum).
  • Health insurance. If you resign from your job but still need health coverage, figure out if you’re still eligible under COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).
  • 401K / Pension plan. If you are participating in a benefit plan, determine how the funds will either be transferred or distributed. Your HR department will be able to answer questions about the previous three topics if that information isn’t accessible - so don’t hesitate to ask them.
checklist for what to have for your resignation meeting


Let’s be real, the resignation talk can be nerve wracking. If you’re a top performer, oftentimes managers can get upset or even defensive during these conversations. Prepare answers to commonly asked questions ahead of time (such as: Where are you going? Was there anything you were unhappy with? Was there a catalyst to make you look elsewhere?). This ensures that the meeting remains positive and the right points are addressed. Close the conversation with gratitude and don’t be afraid to ask for a future reference.

Have the right conversations

When you meet with your manager, give and accept feedback. Be positive and clear about why you were seeking a new challenge — managers want transparency on how their team is feeling.  Your manager might also have some feedback for you, so take it constructively!

Before you leave, make time to connect with any coworker you worked closely with: mentors, teammates, or even your work friends. Avoid speaking negatively about your experience, you don’t want to color others’ perception of the company.  

Help out

Offer to assist with the transition. Wrap up your projects to the best of your ability and if your work isn’t totally done, delegate to team members. Create a list of your daily (and weekly, monthly, etc.) responsibilities and link all relevant documents so your team can reference anything they need.

It’s easy to leave your old job carelessly, because after all, you’re leaving! But chances are, you’ll either connect with one of these colleagues down the road or will at least need a job reference from them. When resigning, remember to remain respectful, positive, and gracious towards the coworkers you’re leaving behind!

Check out Vettery's blog for additional job-seeker tips and tricks on topics from how to get hired remotely to how to determine if an opportunity is right for you.