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Come-on gang, this is the downsizing 90's not the work-for-life '60s. Job
hopping and Dilbert-esque bosses are the NORM. No interviewer wants to hear
the sordid tale of why "personality-conflicts" lead you to quit your current
employer. Sheesh, every boss I have ever had was a prick of some sort.
However, I would never tell an interviewer that.
The fact is, interviewers ask you "why are you leaving your current
employer" because they want to see how you react to that question.
People that babble at length about "personality-conflicts" and "creative
differences" are obsessive, resentful, grudge-mongering jerks.
People that bad-mouth their current employer have something to hide (like
Both of these people are carrying WAY too much emotional baggage about their
previous job. This makes them bad employees.
People that hold grudges are bad employees. Likewise, people with extensive
justifications for quitting clearly have something to hide. People that
bad-mouth a former employer clearly cannot shone on their own merit. You
should NEVER have to make someone else look bad to make yourself look good.
About a year ago, I was interviewing a woman who bad-mouthed her current
employer in an interview. She kept "explaining" why her previous job was so
screwed up. At one point, I remember she said "they just did not understand
how to do things there. That's why I decided to leave and do the kind of
work I want to." To me, all she was saying was: "I am inflexible and they
wouldn't listen to me at my previous job."
In spite of her good skills and experience, I did not hire her. I hired
someone with less experience who had nothing bad to say about his current
employer. He actually liked where he worked, he just wanted "more
challenging work." He worked out fine. I don't know what happened to the
Never apologize and never explain why you are seeking work. The interviewer
does not need to know the intimate reasons why you decided to find a new
job. It is not bad to want more money, more challenges, more respect, or a
new working environment.
As for job hopping... Come on? This is the 1990's people. NO ONE expects
you to stay at the same job for more than a few years. Moreover, you do not
want to work for any company that DOES consider long terms of employment a
Sheesh, 10 years at one company can be a BAD thing! To some companies,
terms of employment that long can indicate that some will not adjust well to
a new environment or new technologies. This is not the 1960s where everyone
gets a job and works there for 25 years. I know people my age (28) who have
worked four or five different full time jobs since college. These are
skilled, intelligent people too -- not some wandering rummies.
And since a lot of us contract -- well. What do you expect?
They key is to focus on your skills and what you can do for your potential
employer. Don't EVER obsess over length of service or messy resignations.
Stick to what is important in the interview. When the interviewee asks you
questions about these things, answer them with simple, generic statements.
Keep it simple and stick to "solution oriented" answers.
Owner / Principal Consultant
Anitian Technology Services
From: helen cygnarowicz <bigh -at- slip -dot- net>
Date: Sunday, February 15, 1998 5:28 PM
Subject: Employment Interview
>I believe the safest answer to "why are you willing to leave your
>current employer" is "to make a career change" or "to further my career
>in the field." If you answer that you had a personality conflict, that's
>a warning to the questioner that either you don't have interpersonal
>skills to help you solve such a conflict, or you are too intimidated to
>stick up for yourself. I would be loathe to hire a person with either
>characteristic. If you answer that you are interested in furthering
>yourself, who can argue with you? And it makes you look a little better.
>CAVEAT: if your resume shows a "career" improvement every year, be
>careful. Your honesty will be suspect if the resume doesn't also show
>that career improvement.
>On the other hand, if you are constantly "job" hopping, it will show and
>there won't be much you can do to change that impression of low
>tolerance in the workplace, or lack of ability to stick with something
>as important as earning a living.
>It's a two-edged sword. I'd rather be gored by the career sword than the
>job sword. It's riskier, but it's got a more desirable payoff when it
>works. It shows that you aren't making change for the sake of change,
>but because you have a plan. And we all know how important planning is
>to technical communicators.
>Manager, Information Development Group