How and When Should You Burn Bridges?

Maisha Cannon wrote an excellent titled Burning Bridges on Recruiting Blogs.  She has become one of my favorite recruiting writers.

Her post references a quote about burning bridges: “May the bridges I burn light the way.”

Cute.

Then she referenced Greg Smith, the Goldman Sachs exec who wrote a scathing letter on his last day of work (before resigning).

Talk about burning bridges!

If Greg exists, and what he wrote is true, then yes, I’d say he burned a bridge at his past employer, and many future employers might be skeptical of hiring him.  I respect what he did from a personal ethics perspective, but wow, that was gutsy.

Maisha’s post, and Greg’s letter, makes me think about job seekers, and burning bridges.  A common prompting for us to burn bridges is when people ask “why did you leave your last job?”

OH, LET ME TELL YOU!!!  THEY ARE SO MESSED UP, MY BOSS WAS AN IDIOT, ETC. ETC. ETC.

We really feel like we want to tell OUR SIDE of the story.  And when we do, we usually go too far and tell what was wrong with everything else.

Here’s the problem… and it’s bigger than burning a bridge with someone who might not ever hear us talking about them: We sound bitter.  And we show that we carry a grudge.  We sound hurt, and not ready to move forward.

I’ve been there.  I was bitter, and I hold grudges, and I was hurt!!

So, I was just being honest, right?

The problem is that the people who are listening might sympathize with us, but they might not be willing to help us with what we need most: contacts and introductions.

If you sound jaded and mad and bitter, you are saying “I’m not ready to network yet, don’t introduce me to anyone.”

So really, in the end, who won?  Was it worth it to ruin an opportunity to move forward on your job search just so you could tell your side of the story?

I know you want to.  And I want to.  But for the same of not being stuck, figure out how to answer this question concisely, respecting all parties involved.  Then you might look “ready” for more goodness.

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