Leaving a Job?

5 Things You Should Never Do

Businessman carrying file box of belongings
••• Noel Hendrickson/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

When leaving a job, whether your employer fired you or you finally decided to quit the one you've hated for a while, your anger may threaten to take over. However tempting it may be, this is not the time to get revenge. While it may feel good at the moment, it can damage your professional reputation and have long-term consequences. These are five things you should never do:

Don't Tell Your Boss and Coworkers Off ... Even If They Deserve It

Telling your miserable boss and coworkers what you think of them will probably feel great, but refrain from doing that. It's not just about being the bigger person—although that's a good idea too—there's a more practical reason to refrain from finally telling them off. You never know who will turn up in your life in the future. What if, heavens forbid, you had to work with one of these people again? Also, think about the coworkers who are still your allies. They may be put off by your behavior and form a negative opinion about you because of it.

Don't Damage Company Property or Steal Equipment or Supplies

Your anger at an employer who mistreated you is understandable. You may feel like doing something to release your pent up rage. Vandalism and theft are illegal. Instead of embarking on a productive job search, you could end up fighting criminal charges. Why compromise your future by putting your freedom and reputation in jeopardy? Go to the gym instead and get your aggression out with a workout.

Don't Badmouth Your Employer or Your Coworkers to Your Replacement

There is nothing to gain by warning your successor about their new boss or coworkers unless they ask or are a friend. And even if they do ask, give just the facts rather than your opinion. Your complaints will only look like a gigantic case of sour grapes to someone who doesn't know you and hasn't asked about your thoughts on the matter. Your successor will figure things out on their own anyway. Don't add to their stress of starting a new job when it probably won't make a difference.

Don't Complain About Your Boss to a Prospective Employer

The topic of your former employer will undoubtedly come up on a job interview. The interviewer will probably ask why you left. Telling the truth may seem like the right thing to do, but it is better to give a more neutral explanation that doesn't place blame on your former boss. It is better to say you had some differences of opinion instead of revealing that your boss had it in for you. The truth, as you see it, will seem to deflect all the blame away from you but from another employer's perspective, the opposite may happen.

Upon hearing only your side of the story, they could grow suspicious that there is more to it. They may worry that you will bring what they see as a negative attitude into their workplace.

Keep Your Complaints Off Social Media

Think carefully before sharing your grievances on social media. Consider who is connected with the person you are criticizing. Are they friends with friends of yours. Is it worth upsetting people with an online vent? Do you want what you said to get back to the subject of your complaint? If so, reread the first item on this list and give it some more thought. It is better to speak in confidence with people who are close to you than to share your feelings in a public forum.

Don't Forget to Ask for a Reference

Asking your boss for a reference when leaving your job may seem like an odd thing to do. However, since your former position will be listed on your resume, not having one could look suspicious. At best, you may be able to get a neutral reference. If your boss fired you for committing a horrible offense, this is a moot point. Instead, get recommendations from employers with whom you had better relationships.