Published on January 22nd, 2014 by Alan L Sklover
Question: I recently came across your blog and I believe that the information and resources you provide are fantastic!
I moved to Australia with my family three months ago after 13 years in the middle east. I am actively looking for employment but as a newcomer it has been a little challenging so far. I am preparing for interviews and I need your advice regarding the best answer to the following question a prospective employer may ask: “Why did you leave your last job?”
The real answer is that my daughter developed asthma while living in the middle east due to the weather conditions, and while it was not an easy decision to leave, I am happy I made it because so far her health has improved.
In my opinion this is not the ideal answer to a prospective employer and here is where I need your help. What do you suggest?
Many thanks for your time and consideration,
Answer: Dear Lenush: Here are my honest thoughts and best answers on the challenge you face:
1. To begin, I must say I find your “real answer” to be a great answer. Whenever I think about “What will another person think?” or “How will others react?” I try to pretend for a moment that I am that person. While I cannot imagine what every person or every prospective employer may think, I do believe I have a pretty good sense and sound judgment on these things. I have given your question a lot of thought, asked others what they think of your dilemma, and have concluded that your “real answer” is nothing less than a “great answer,” in that it is entirely believable, entirely understandable, and entirely defensible.
2. Your “real answer” (a) shows you have concern for others above your concerns for yourself, (b) suggests that you are a person whose values are squarely in the right order of priority, and (c) in my opinion, is one that any person with children (or spouse, parents or siblings) can quickly, easily and heartily relate to. The answer that is best – from the perspective of what employers seek in a job candidate – is one that shines a positive light on your character, with strong values, and the ability to act selflessly. Basically, “Is this person a true team player?”
I, for one, deeply admire your “what needs to be done” and your accepting life’s difficulties head on as they come upon you. Quite candidly, though I am as fallible and imperfect as we all are, I strive daily to be the kind of stand-up person and caring person and father that you surely are. It is my belief that almost all employers – and surely all employers worth working for – support employees who hold their families first.
Another thought that came to me is this: your “real answer” – including your daughter’s health improvement – suggests that you won’t be again relocating soon.
3. In addition to your “real answer” being a great answer, your “real answer” just happens to be the truth, and for that reason alone it is so very much preferable. It is simply undeniable that the truth is always the preferable path. First, it comes from the heart, and others can usually sense its presence. Second, it does not have to be practiced, rehearsed or remembered. Third, you don’t have to worry about getting caught in “the truth.” Fourth, by its very nature, the truth is verifiable. Fifth, for those concerned about comfort with themselves, it just feels better. And sixth and finally, for those who live lives of faith, the truth is simply required of them. Albert Schweitzer always said, “Sincerity is the cornerstone of spirituality.”
4. I am struggling a bit to imagine what your basis might be for the sense that your “real answer” might not be ideal to a prospective employer, as you state. Are you concerned that prospective employers prefer employees who are willing to endanger their children’s health? Might you think that your reason for relocating is not sufficiently business-oriented? Is it possible you think your reason for leaving the middle east might seem implausible to a prospective employer? Is it even possible that you are trying to make sense of your inability so far to gain new employment?
While I am not “in your shoes” and so cannot truly see the world from your prospective, it is my view at the moment that, if any of these thoughts might be the basis for your concern, they are probably in error.
By the way, if you are now interviewing, don’t forget what your Mom always told you: “It pays to be polite!” Use our Model Letter After Interview; with Later Follow Up. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!
5. Might it be the case that interviewers have given you these explanations, or these impressions, for not recalling you for further interviews? If that is where your concern has arisen, then it just might be that you are not being told the truth. And, if you are being told the truth by interviewers, might I share with you my strong sense that this interviewer’s company is not a company you really want to work for. I take the unusual step for me of inviting you to email me again, and in your email let me know the source of your concerns, with the assurance that I will respond directly to that email if you send it.
If, nonetheless, you would still like to consider using other reasons to explain your last job departure, we offer a list of 50 Good Reasons to Explain Your Last Job Departure. It is one of our very best selling items, and those who have obtained it have commented that the 50 Reasons are original, creative and so very useful. To obtain your copy, [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!
Lenush, I hope this is helpful to you. It is never easy, and in fact often quite difficult, to be out of work and looking for a new position. Please simply have faith. Faith in what you have done, faith in what you are doing, faith in yourself, and faith in what got you this far. Faith is what gets us all through life’s inevitable darker moments. If you keep up your faith, and continuing pursuing the “shining light” of your values and principled reasons for doing things, I guarantee you that things will only get better. Just like they did with your daughter’s health.
Please consider telling your friends, family and colleagues “down under” about our blog – we’d REALLY appreciate that!! Oh, yes, and tell them, too, that subscribing to our blog is free, fun and helpful.
My Best, and My Admiration,
P.S.: Plan on looking for a New Job? We offer a 152-Point Master Checklist of Employment Negotiation Items to help you make sure you have not (a) forgotten to ask for anything, (b) failed to raise any issues, and (c) that your interests are protected in your offer letter and/or employment contract. To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!
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