Question: After 10 years on the job, one day I lost my composure. My job just became too unfair, too hostile, too clubby. I wish I could turn back the clock to that day, and redo it. I was told I would be fired, or I could resign, so I resigned. This is my question: What should I put on job applications under “Reason for Leaving?”
Donna, from Okeechobee, FL
Answer: Your question is one of the most commonly asked questions on our blog. It’s a difficult one, too. This is what I’ve learned over the years. There is no one answer to every person who asks this question; everyone’s situation and facts are different. However, I recommend four “guiding principles” to consider in coming to your own answer for job applications and interview questions:
(1) First, don’t lie. It’s probably the worst thing you can do. Instead tell the truth, or at least so much of the truth as you need to. Do you need to tell them you lost your composure one day? I don’t think so. You can tell them that you came to a point, after 10 years, of so much frustration that you decided to seek something new, better, more rewarding.
(2) Second, keep positive, to the extent you possibly can. You do not want to be seen as a complainer, or as criticizing your employer. You don’t have to say that the company was hostile or unfair; you can say that you are seeking a workplace that is friendly and fair, as you are, yourself.
(3) Third, do not divulge trade secrets or proprietary information of your former employer. That will not get you a job, although you may think it will.
(4) Finally, use common sense. Imagine that you, yourself, were the application reviewer, or interviewer: what would impress you, and what would make you throw the application in the garbage can?
I think your best “Reason for Leaving” might be “Seeking Next Company to Serve Loyally for 10 Years.”
Best, Al Sklover
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