Any time you have to leave a job, be it one you enjoy or one you really don’t care for, you should always leave things on good terms in case you need a reference later. You may even find yourself wanting to return to that job one day. Things change, and you never know. You could find the company has changed policies. People who may have caused you to dislike your position may no longer even be there, and you could have a bit of a fresh start there because of this or many other factors.
The point is, you never known. The job market is tough these days, and it always pays to leave any potential door to opportunity open. Though occasionally burning bridges may be inevitable, you should still endeavor to leave any position you hold on good terms, regardless of the circumstances you are leaving under. This can save you much grief later, should you need a reference, a job, or even if you have to deal with this company in some manner at your new job.
A good reference never hurts
Good references will always be a necessity, and even a bad one can be made worse. Even if you know your past performance was poor, you can still get a decent reference simply be showing proper etiquette on your departure. If possible, work a notice, but even when you can’t, let your employer know as far in advance as possible. Never simply leave or refuse to show up without letting someone know you are leaving. This is bad form regardless of the situation.
If possible, your resignation should be done in person, or even in writing. If you are for some reason unable to do either of these, at least call your immediate supervisor and let them know. The more polite and businesslike you are in handling this, the better your chances will be of people speaking highly of you in any reference or recommendation they might give.
In management positions, I have often given a decent reference to people who were not always the best at their job, simply because they worked regularly and put in the effort to leave on good terms. The way one handles themselves in these situations says a great deal about them. On the other hand, even when referencing a good worker one can’t in good conscience give a shining review of someone who simply walks off the job with no explanation.
Avoid awkwardness and problems in future business dealings
A good work ethic helps out in all careers. Corporations can be connected in odd ways, and even rely on each other for certain things. Suppose your new job requires you to purchase things from, or even sell products to your old place of employment. You will find your new business far more well received if you left your old company on good terms.
I have had this happen when I worked as a supervisor. Our company had several branches, and I occasionally had to be a “go between”. It was much easier dealing with former employees I happened to meet at other branches who had left on good terms, even when their work was not up to pare in my department. Supervisors ask other supervisors about these things. It is much more comfortable, even from a managerial stand point, to be able to say, “Well, they did not work out in my department, but they left on good terms, and had a good work record otherwise.”
You may wish to return one day
I had to make a tough decision once with regard to a job I really enjoyed. It was very hard leaving, because I really liked my job there, and I had a great boss at the time. However, a better opportunity arose, and I could not afford to pass it up. Later, when I needed a reference, my old boss was more than happy to oblige. She even offered me my old job back, but the business had moved and it was too far to drive. Had that not been the case, I would have gladly taken her up on the offer. It was also a great confidence booster in my job search efforts just knowing that I was still wanted and needed there.
Never let doors or even windows close on any potential opportunity. You never know in what future capacity you may run across companies, or even people you have worked with before. It could always have some bearing on your future. Even people who are not pleased with you for some reason may think more highly of you if you maintain a good business ethic when parting ways.
Sources: Nine years supervisory and training experience, and years of management experience at various levels