Thursday, May 24, 2007

Workplace Gone Sour… Time to Quit

I faced lots of problems in my last job, As I came from a different country, the people I worked with used to laugh at my accent and took advantage of my being nice to them. I was always asked to do many tasks that were not in my job description. The situation was so unfair and I was so upset I left the job and came home.

Now I am looking for work, but the main problem I am facing is that employers ask the reason for leaving my last job. I tried to be honest a few times but it didn't work so I have to be smart and reply tactfully.

What is the best answer in this situation?

by Richard Yadon, CPC, President/CEO, HealthCareerProfessionals

Your reason for your departure is completely rational and understandable. No one wants to, or should, work in a disrespectful and hostile environment. If you tried to resolve the problems through the correct channels and nothing changed, you were probably correct to leave.

Although your reason for leaving is understandable, how you explain it to prospective employers will make all the difference in their response. For instance, if you say something like, "Everyone at my last job ridiculed me, made fun of my accent, and treated me unfairly." it can sound like you have an "everyone's against me" attitude. While the statement may be true, few employers are going to believe that everyone was after you.

When asked why you left your last job, say something like this:

"Mr. /Ms. Prospective employer (use their real name, of course), have you ever worked in a place where a few unhappy and bitter people spoiled the atmosphere for everyone else? That was the situation at my last place of employment. After a time they made it such an unpleasant place to be, I didn’t want to be around them for 8 to 10 hours a day. So I made the decision to find a more positive place to work, which is why I'm so excited about the opportunity to work with you."

You'll want to rework this to fit your personality. The point is to come across with as someone who has a positive outlook and confidence in his personal values. Employers will respect this – at least the employer's you'd want to work for.

Susan Ireland's Two Cents
The Big Dip: Ten Questions with Seth Godin is an interview by Guy Kawasaki about “the topics of perseverance and quitting.” The interview is not specifically about careers, but I think this brief excerpt is relevant to our post:
Question: Other than hindsight, how does someone know when it’s time to quit?
Answer: It’s time to quit when you secretly realize you’ve been settling for mediocrity all along. It’s time to quit when the things you’re measuring aren’t improving, and you can’t find anything better to measure.

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