Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have you ever burned a bridge at work?

I haven't, and I'm starting to think that might not be such a good thing. People who look out for themselves seem to be the ones who get ahead quicker. A few months after I lost my job, I got a freelance gig in the research department at a wedding magazine. I knew the work would be tedious, but with no other prospects in sight, I happily accepted it. About two weeks later, I got an email from an editor at a newspaper offering me a full-time freelance job that basically required playing matchmaker to all the singles in NYC. Hello, fun job! I was bursting with excitement until I realized, shit, I already had a job. 

I tried to figure out a way to do both, but it just wasn't working out. And even though I didn't sign a contract with the first job, I just couldn't find it in myself to quit after I had already started. Is everyone thinking I'm a total idiot right now? Probably. I went from having to choose between two jobs to not even having ONE. Sweet. Will being a nice, honest person ever get me anywhere? It doesn't feel like it. But, I just don't know how to be anything or anyone other than who I am. For better or worse. 

It's hard for me not to look back and wish I had made a different decision. However, I do believe in all the cliches about how everything happens for a reason, so I'm just gonna go with that. What choice do I have anyway? Plus, if I had taken the second job, I probably wouldn't be here writing to all of YOU on this very blog. 

So be honest here: Do you think I made the wrong decision? Have you ever been in a similar situation? And have you ever burned a bridge at work?


  1. Not knowing the circumstances specifically, I can't say if you did the wrong thing. But I can say that you should NEVER go out in a blaze of glory. If leaving would have been a bad idea at the time, then it was a bad idea. Leaving people high and dry will just make them send bad vibes out into the ether.
    In business, as in relationships, being nice really does pay off. Really. Think about it, you only have a horrid breakup with a guy or a friend if you REALLY don't want to see or hear from them again. If you genuinely want to be someone's friend still, you are honest with them, allow a cooling off period, and then reconnect on different terms. You never know when you are going to bump into that ex boss at an event or even at Starbucks. No one wants to be hiding behind the discount display when you could be exchanging pleasantries and making a re-connection.


  2. Haha, hiding behind the discount display. You are so right, Shannon. I probably would have taken the job if they could have waited two weeks, but they needed me asap, which makes me think if they weren't willing to wait, I guess they didn't want me that much anyway!

  3. You're one of the most intelligence and thoughtful women I know so I have no doubt there was good reason you did not take job #2. I can also imagine the internal battle you had with yourself prior to making the decision so I know you didn't take it lightly.

    I am also a firm believer in the fact that there is a reason for everything. That being said, I am also learning that you have to look out for yourself in the work place because no one else will(or at least not as well a you will). Most importantly though -- it is not personal. I have to keep reminding myself of the last one because my feelings and the feelings of other always seem to creep into my thought process. Luckily, I have great mentors who are trying to teach me this fact...sometimes it is a pretty painful, unnatural process.

    I also do not think you can ever burn a bridge if you handle the situation with integrity. Whether you current employer feels slighted or not that is their issue as long as you communicate and are honest.

    They should be kicking themselves for not waiting for you! You'd be amazing at that job!

  4. Thaaanks, Al. So sweet. And you are right, it really has a lot more to do with HOW you handle the situation. I probably could have quit job #1 without burning a bridge, but I think I was just so scared to quit, then accept something else only to have that fall through. Umm yeah...that already happened to me once!

  5. I fully believe that being nice and honest will get you EVERYWHERE. I know a lot of people think you have to be cunning and crafty to get ahead in our industry but I think keeping true to yourself is a much smarter move. Sure, it sounds sappy but it's worked well for me thus far. *knocks on wood*

  6. That's not burning a bridge Ellen! Leaving a temp position for a full time position is completely understandable. I don't think anyone involved would have held it against you.

  7. Glad it's worked for you, Rosemary...hope I'll have the same luck :)

    And yeah, G-Dub, looking back on it, I don't think it would have been a TERRIBLE career move, but I just couldn't do it. Esp because Job #2 had full-time hours, but only part-time pay (as in, I'd only go into the office a few times a week, but would most likely be working around the clock and through the weekend on my own time) Also, Job #1 was in my career field, so I was just scared to burn a bridge in the industry. Looking back though, I think I have definitely learned a lesson! I think I might do things differently next time..