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How to Explain Why You Are Changing Jobs

April 14, 2015 | Career Blog

How to Explain Why You Are Changing Jobs

People change jobs for all sorts of reasons: moving from the area, marriage, a decision to stay home with small children, a better job comes along and many more. The majority of time the reason is related to personal choices or career advancement. Employees put in their two-week’s notice, enjoy a goodbye lunch with co-workers and part on good terms.

But what happens when someone leaves a job for more unpleasant reasons? It could be a disagreement with a supervisor or another employee, a lack of advancement opportunities or a hostile work environment. When it comes time to interview for a new job, it can be tricky to explain why you left an unfortunate past employment circumstances.

Here are two key tips for how to handle this delicate situation:

  1. Avoid negativity. Don’t go into details about why you left and certainly don’t speak negatively about your previous company or supervisor. You don’t want a potential employer wondering if you could be a negative presence or cause problems at your new workplace. Don’t feel compelled to go into details. You can simply say you were looking for new opportunities.
  2. Accentuate the positives. While you may have left your last job with a bad taste in your mouth, you still can share anything you gleaned while in that previous job. Did you develop new leadership techniques, learn a new technical skill or work on a large project? You can also draw on experience from other past jobs – anything to demonstrate what you can bring to a new position and how you would be an asset to the company.

But what if you were fired from the job? In this situation, it’s probably best to come clean. Again, don’t bash your past employer – even if you believe you were wrongly fired. Instead, focus on any good that came from the firing. Did you learn from a mistake? Have you grown from the experience?

Don’t let the firing kill your confidence. Plenty of people have been fired (Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld) and gone on to do great things. So, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.