Dear Tina

After being handpicked to be hired by the CEO of [my organization], I've been with them for about 9 months. While it's a great work environment,  I think that I want to move on from local to international non-profit development.  I found a position that fits my exact interests, so I applied for it and it looks promising.

What are your thoughts on leaving a job in under a year? How would I tell my boss without her being offended? I want to tread carefully and not ruin the relationship we have. Any advice on how to navigate the awkwardness?

B in Chicago, IL

Dear B

I'm not sure of your age, but frequently exploring new careers paths or "job hopping" can be very common for young professionals under 35.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that you will average 11 jobs/careers by the time you're 32.  And while it may have once been seen as the kiss of death during the resume screening process, career changers can also be very desirable candidates if they manage their changes strategically.

You are responsible for taking a proactive approach to your professional growth and you should always be in a constant state of progression at this stage in your career.  Before making a decision to leave an employer, ask yourself if you've made a significant impact/contribution while you were there that would make yourself marketable to prospective employers as well as have your current employer feel like you've yet to live up to why they hired you.  This will allow you to build a strong network which when paired with significant and measurable accomplishments makes you the bee's knees.

Something to consider - does your current employer have an international branch or sect that you could tap into? Perhaps you could suggest a department or location transfer which will still allow you the opportunity to get the global experience that you're seeking without leaving a company that you admittedly like. If there is no room for internal movement, use this during your discussions with your boss when you're leaving.

Finally, should you get the job, be sure to write a stellar resignation letter that will help your boss understand your career aspirations.  Show her that you're appreciative of the personal and professional growth that your position has afforded you, you do not want to pass up this excellent opportunity. Close the letter with an open invitation to do business again in the future and this should keep you from burning any bridges.

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Dear Tina,

OK here's my situation: a few years ago I worked for a printing company and loved my job, but I had the boss from hell so I quit. Instead of the regular 2 weeks notice I came in the morning of my last day and handed him a letter that told him what a [expletive] he was, tossed my keys on the desk and left.  I didn't even pick up my last paycheck.  Since then I've been working, but not that happy and one of my old coworkers told me that old jerk-face is no longer at the company.  Tina do you think that I should try to get my old job back or have I been blacklisted?

Pariah? in Philadelphia

Dear PIP

Wow. I suppose I should be glad that you didn't yell at him over a P.A. system and leave down an emergency chute,

Leaving a job professionally certainly has its' advantages and recrossing that now scorched bridge is the biggest one.  While it may be a temporary high to tell your boss to "kiss what you twist and you don't mean your wrist", you should keep in mind how much of an impact your departure can have on your career. Not only will you have caused bad blood with your former supervisor (who may take the bad experience with him if/when he changes companies), but the company may have had to classify you as "not eligible for rehire".

However all may not be lost.  The first thing that I would suggest that you do is to contact anyone at the company with whom you still have a good rapport and get an idea of your current reputation.  Even if the manager and/or HR staff has changed there may be a paper trail in your employee file or even be a copy of your little letter, so find out how much damage your departure caused.  Secondly, I would suggest that you tailor your cover letter to highlight your growth since you left the company - not personal growth - but rather what skills and industry expertise you've gained during your hiatus.

Finally, if things work out promise me that you'll give your current employer nothing but a nice professional resignation letter with appropriate notice. Deal? Deal.

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