Don’t Burn Bridges…Ever

Don’t give up on widgets…

I’d like to tell you a story.  It’s the story of a job seeker who was looking for her dream opportunity to work in widgets.  Her undergraduate degree and her graduate degree both groomed her to work with widgets. Despite the fact that her current job uses widgets, they weren’t her focus. They were a minor element to her job.

This person was so passionate about widgets, so she learned all she could on her own and used them at every opportunity – in professional organizations, in personal life and at her current job. She just couldn’t get enough of widgets!  Finally, one day, she had an interview to work with widgets as her primary job with ABC Company.  It was exciting. It was thrilling. It was the dream opportunity she had hoped for.

But it didn’t work out.

What now?

Now, this widget-minded individual was disappointed, but understood that she might still have more to learn about widgets.  Additionally, even though she didn’t get the position at ABC Company – she maintained a positive relationship with the organization and the hiring manager.  She understood it wouldn’t do any good to “burn bridges” just because she wasn’t the right fit at the time, or that the company might have decided not to fill the position.

It would have been easy to write off the hiring manager, the company and the missed opportunity – but she realized that while it might be a “natural” response – it wouldn’t serve her career aspirations.  She also understood that making decisions on candidates is no easy task, and even though she didn’t get the position, she wanted the hiring manager and the company to maintain a positive image of her.  Widget Girl knew that there may be future opportunities to work with widgets and holding grudges wouldn’t benefit anyone.

Never give up

The widget job seeker hadn’t given up on her goals, but she understood that it might take some patience and perseverance. She focused her efforts on continued learning, expanding her skills and networking. Her hard work eventually paid off- one day, she received word that ABC Company was expanding their widget team.  She jumped at the chance to learn more and to find out if she was ready to focus on widgets full time. ABC Company remembered her positively, so she got another interview. And eventually, they asked her to join their widget team.

The Moral of the Story

So what’s the moral of the story? Hopefully, it’s pretty obvious: Never burn bridges with a company or organization whether you quit, don’t get the job or are even laid-off.

Sometimes there are circumstances that are beyond the hiring manager’s control or beyond your control.  Sometimes another candidate is just a better fit for that organization or team at that particular time.

It’s difficult to NOT take rejection personally – but you have to remember: employers are trying to make decisions based on the best interests of their teams and organizations. If you do miss out on a job offer, you should do the following:

  • Thank them for their consideration.
  • Ask for feedback. (Could you improve upon your skills, education, and experience?)
  • Ask about professional organizations or networking opportunities they might recommend.
  • If they say they want to keep in touch, DO IT! (Just don’t turn into a “job-stalker”)
  • Don’t bad mouth the company just because you didn’t get the job. There are ears everywhere.
  • Be patient. You never know when the connections you made through a “failed” job search may come through for you in the future.


With all of that being said – the story above is not that different from my own.  This will be my last blog post with, as I have accepted my own dream job with my own ABC Company to focus on widgets full-time! (Actually, I will be joining the Social Media team at Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City, OK.)

I want to thank both Dan Schwabel and Melissa Kong for the opportunity to contribute to the blog and help students and other job seekers. It definitely forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow and test the waters as a “professional” blogger.

Much luck and future success to, my fellow contributors, Dan, Melissa and all of the readers.  I welcome readers to continue to connect with me via Twitter @JLanie, LinkedIn and my personal blog.

Hopefully, you’ll continue to check out and its Twitter account @HireOSUgrads. (I’m crossing my fingers that my replacement contributor will be from Oklahoma State University.) And finally, feel free to follow Chesapeake Energy‘s social media presence through its Twitter accounts: @Chesapeake and @CNGNow and Facebook Pages: Chesapeake Energy and Chesapeake CNG Chopper.

Again, thank you for reading.  I wish you much future success in your career journey!


On January 8, 2010 Lanie James concludes her role as Employer Development Coordinator for the Career Services office at Oklahoma State University, also known as . She holds both a B.A. in Journalism Broadcasting and a M.S. in Mass Communication from OSU. Her research emphasis focused on emerging and social media in Career Services. She also serves as the President of the Oklahoma Association of Colleges & Employers (@OkACE). She begins the next chapter in her career by joining the Social Media team at Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City. Connect with Lanie on LinkedIn or Twitter @JLanie.

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7 Responses to “Don’t Burn Bridges…Ever”

  1. Lanie,

    This is important advice! Since we can’t predict the future, we have no way of determining what contacts or relationships we will need in the future. Burning just one bridge could be disastrous.

    Congrats on the dream job!


  2. Wonderful thoughts. I am also a firm believer in this advice. The best way to create opportunities for yourself is keep your network as large as possible! Thanks for all your posts. Good luck with your next step :)

  3. avatar Bumby Scott says:

    Great post and as always timely advise.

    Always Bumby

  4. avatar Vern Taylor says:

    Great advice! I actually learned this lesson the hard way very early on in my career when I almost destroyed a professional relationship. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

  5. avatar yinka olaito says:

    There are several lesons to learn here. Outside the story, your exist strategy/communication method from does not make it painful for many people who love your writing style. Thanks and I wish you all the best in your new place.

  6. avatar Kelly Cuene says:

    Great post, Lanie! Good luck and enjoy the new job!

  7. Great post. I’ve had experience with this and would not be in the job I am in had I burned this bridge in the past!

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