Would you believe that in this rather tough economic climate, I have now personally heard from no less than three people in the last two days who have quit their jobs? And I might add that in all three situations, these people are competent professionals who don’t quit employment easily or often.
So what’s going on out there? I know that all three individuals read my posts, and rest assured I won’t be giving away your identities or exposing you to the minions of the internet! However, there are some lessons to be learned and some truths to be exposed in all three situations. Perhaps in the interest of helping others without injuring those concerned, I can share and gloss over to some degree a little with you the reader.
All three situations have some relevant and critical features that link them together, but the most striking is that all three individuals elevated their concerns to the right people instead of just announcing that they were quitting out-of-the-blue. In other words, there was a chance in all three situations that by bringing attention to significant problems, all three might have retained their positions if change had come about. Unfortunately, no change of significance did happen, and the result is that all three made a personal decision to seek employment in other places.
In two of the three situations, the jobs that people quit were ones that they had recently accepted. Didn’t these two do their homework? Didn’t they know what they were walking into? The answer actually is that both did in fact do some research and the jobs they were promised and the situations they would work in differed from the ones presented by the employer at the interview stage. No amount of planning, research and preparation can prepare you for a job if the job itself morphs into something different, or there is a significant change in hours, the job description, the location etc.
In one of the situations, the person resigned from a job to take the new position, and after three weeks on the job, the employer actually cut the position itself but retained the employee, and created a new position that differed substantially from the position the person had agreed to take when leaving their former employer. The result in that case was that the person told me that they felt they were doomed to fail in the new position because they were honest enough to admit they didn’t have the skills required to perform that job at a high level. So rather than accept a higher salary for a short time and then get fired, they took the high road and resigned.
Another factor involved in one persons decision was the attitude of the person to whom the employee reported to. That’s a hard thing to gauge at an interview. In this situation there is a history of people accepting the job which she did and then the position becoming vacated and advertised for. Sooner or later I suspect but will never know, if those in more senior positions from that company don’t draw the conclusion that it isn’t the applicants that are the problem but the supervision they are receiving. Perhaps that’s where the change is needed.
I am very interested in staying connected with these three individuals. Aside from being competent employees with personal ethics, skills and self-motivation, they are all professionals. Each of them will, if they include the positions on their future resumes, have to explain why they resigned and opted to look for work elsewhere. What will they say? I can tell you that all three will refrain from bad-mouthing the previous employers while at the same time being honest.
The injustice is that when you leave a position for reasons that are entirely justified, you still have to hope and trust that the new employer you are being interviewed by believes your story. And this element of doubt; that, “You’ve got to believe me” feeling, is unfortunate. The reason? Well the employer doesn’t HAVE to believe you do they? There are some people out there who quit jobs for very poor reasons, and in those situations the employer is entirely in the right and the employee is the problem.
So from the view of the new employer, they have the unenviable job of discerning which of the two you are; the disgruntled applicant who quit with poor justification or the applicant who quit their last job for reasons that were entirely justified.
When speaking of why you resigned from a position, good general advice is to be honest, succinct and to keep calm and in control as you are speaking. Your answer or reply should also end on a positive note. Any feelings of anger, revenge, and although it’s a strong word – hate, should be reigned in. In fact, doing a mock interview with a professional to answer this one specific question is a good idea. The question, “Why did you leave your last position?” or possibly even, “How would you describe your previous employer?”
Crafting an answer that is honest, doesn’t belittle the previous employer, and shows your professionalism, ethics, reasoning and good judgement is going to serve you well.