Have you ever been so angry or frustrated in a job that you just wanted to leave, burning your bridges in the process?

It can be tempting, but this can have some real consequences on your career. You will be acting unprofessionally, and your reputation always proceeds you. You will be burning your bridges to potential future jobs as well.

Here is a true story:

My husband, Curtis, was an auto mechanic and was hired at a local auto shop as one of four guys. He was good at the work, but only has one hand because of an accident when he was a teenager. His bad hand slowed him down, which was a problem when he was part of a team with just four mechanics.

The business owner, Sandy eventually fired him. It was a hard decision because Curtis was an excellent employee, but just wasn’t fast enough to carry his own weight.

After a period of time, Sandy called and asked if Curtis had gotten another job. Yes, he was selling cars. Sandy asked if he would be interested in returning to the shop as the service writer, handling the customers, rather than working directly with the vehicles. Here was the thing: Curtis had no business experience and had not graduated from high school. It was a risky move for us.

Why did he ask? Well, a common practice with auto shops is that key locks are frequently changed when a mechanic leaves, as there are valuable tools and customer cars in the shop. But Sandy knew that Curtis could be trusted, so he made a decision not to change the locks. It was highly unusual, and in retrospect, a sign of just how much faith Sandy had in Curtis.

After several years, Sandy talked with both of us. He had 49% ownership of the business with a silent partner for the 51%. Would we like to buy him out? We agreed, and the shop supported us for close to 20 years.

So, now we owned 49% of a business where Curtis had previously been fired.

I share this story as an example that you never know what might happen if you don’t burn your bridges. We definitely never thought we would actually own an auto shop! Do you have any similar stories in your professional life?

  1. If you have burned any bridges so far in your career, what can you do to remedy that? Can you talk frankly with that person and try to make amends?
  2. Have you been the person when someone else burned bridges with you? If so, what can you do about it? It takes two to tango.
  3. And how do you stop yourself in the future, if you just want to shut everything down and walk away?

As a career coach, I’ve worked with many job seekers who have burned bridges in their past. By working to repair those bridges, and therefore their own reputation, I’ve helped them discover a new path towards the career they’ve always wanted. If you’d like to get started, I offer free consultations. You never know where bridges may lead, so never burn them if you can help it!