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Archive for Monday, November 12, 2007

Sometimes honesty is best policy

November 12, 2007

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Q: I recently left a good-paying job after five years with the company. The problem was with the two girls I had to work with. They would feed off each other and make it so difficult for me. My supervisor said her hands were tied. I told her that if nothing could be done, I would have to look for a position elsewhere. She said, "I hate to see you leave, but I understand and feel free to use my name as a reference." You can imagine how I felt. Well, I left the company. I do not like the job I took. The man who hired me is always miserable. I was told that I need to shrug it off, and if I can't it would be best to find another job, because this is the way he is and he will never change. What to say in future interviews as to why I left and why I'm looking? - Evelyn

J.T.: I suggest honesty and brevity. Here's an example: "I was looking for something more when I left the first job. I had been there five years and felt it was time to expand my skill set by branching out. I took my current job because it sounded like a great chance to grow, but it turns out the job isn't quite as it was described. So, I feel it is better to seek a new job now, before the owner invests too much time training me and can instead find someone better suited for the position."

Dale: I was with you on being honest and brief, but your example doesn't strike me as either. How about this: "I left a job after five years to take what I thought was a better one. But the man I now work for is depressed and miserable. So I'm looking for an upbeat, high-energy workplace." After a five-year run, there's no need to explain leaving. And why not be honest? No prospective bosses think of themselves as miserable or depressed, so they won't take it personally.

J.T.: And speaking of positive, Evelyn, you need to accept the New Workplace. Diverse notions of the work ethic are an ever-increasing point of contention. The generations view work very differently, which means their commitment levels and approaches to work vary greatly as well. The key is to be able to focus on your own approach and know that as long as you know you're doing a good job, that's all that matters. Instead, why not try to befriend these folks and do your best to show them the value of your approach? If you can do that, you will make progress in your company and career, and no one will ever shrug and say, "Sorry you feel that way."

- Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success."

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