4 Signs You Burned a Bridge at Work (And How to Fix It)

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 20, 2024 at 2:34PM UTC

“I am feeling guilty,” a Fairygodboss community member recently wrote on the community feed. “I do not want a pity party, but I did something out of my character. I was in training with a job for a month. The job was not what I wanted and what I thought was a great opportunity called and offered me a job. I left and two months later was let go. I was at my previous job for 10 years. Now I have no job and burned a bridge.”

When it comes to your career, you know that you need to be careful not to burn bridges. But sometimes, it happens, inadvertently — or even unintentionally.

4 signs you’ve been burning bridges

1. You have constant FOMO when it comes to your career.

You’re always on the hunt for that next great opportunity, a better title or higher salary. While it’s certainly good to be proactive and keep moving in you’re career, if you’re constantly looking for something better, you’re probably not investing enough of yourself and your skills in your current role. This could land you in hot water and make your employers and coworkers question your loyalty and commitment to your roles. Remember, it’s not just about your career — it’s about your individual jobs, too. Job hopping isn’t as major of a red flag anymore, but you should think small AND big picture. 

2. Let’s face it — you caused a scene.

You wanted your mic drop moment, so you quit with minimal notice. Or, you spoke up about a previous bad boss to others in a tight-knit industry. It may have been warranted, but if you want to stay in your field, you need to be careful about how you approach these conversations. People talk, and you could gain a reputation as something who’s not a team player and has a bad attitude. Even if you speak up, you need to be respectful and professional.

3. Your coworkers and former coworkers are acting distant.

Your attitude and behavior are weighing on others — and they don’t want to be associated with you anymore, either, lest they be labeled as a bad seed. Even coworkers you were close with at one time are acting distant. Perhaps you left your job and they won’t return your calls. 

Be careful about venting or showing your feelings too much in the workplace or at industry and networking events. A bad reputation can follow you around for your entire career if you burn too many bridges.

4. Your tenure at employers never lasts very long.

Similar to no. 1, your constant hunt for greener pastures leads you to job hop. You’re never sticking around at any one job for very long. You don’t give others a chance to get to know you — you just see them as stepping stones on the way to a better opportunity. You’re title and salary chasing, and your resume reflects your short tenures. 

What to do about it

First things first: did you actually burn a bridge? Many Fairygodboss members didn’t think the OG poster actually had. 

“I don't think you burned a bridge. Like others mentioned, you made what you thought was a good decision,” Rosa Goes wrote. “They let you go, that's out of your control. Things happen and it's how you move forward that counts.”

You did what was best at the time and it didn't work out,” Ann Braun agreed. “That wasn't a mistake unless you ignored red flags. I'm also not sure you necessarily burned a bridge unless you left without giving proper notice. Check back with your former employer and see if they have any openings. Lots of people get hired back after leaving. Don't beat yourself up! These things happen. As they say, you can't control what happens, only how you react. Learn what you can from the experience and move on!”

If you did, in fact, burn a bridge, there are some proactive steps you can take to try to rectify your mistakes. Depending on what you did, you should apologize to anyone you’ve wronged. If you lost a job in the process, start looking immediately. Considering working with a recruiter and/or career counselor. They can not only help you land a position but also give you advice on how to better navigate your career and avoid burning bridges in the future.

And don’t waste time perseverating on your mistakes. Keep moving forward.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for someone who’s burned a bridge at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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