Professional Reason For Leaving Job?
March 8, 2006 2:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I explain to potential employers why I'm leaving my job? I've only been here a few months, but its already time to start looking.

I've been at my job for about 5 months now, and it was apparent since before I even took the job that it would not be a good match (but had a friend on the inside that assured me, wrongly, that it would be). I'm not doing even close to what I was hired for, they forced schedule to change from what was agreed upon when I started, I hate the majority of the people I work with, and the owner is a bastard. But working there only 5 months seems like it would be a bad sign to potential employers. The usual "seeking new challenges" just doesn't seem like it would be appropriate since it IS a new job. Does something like "the job was represented as something its not." work? Or is even that too negative to state in a job interview.

If it helps answer the question, I was hired to web design and image manipulation, with some IT tasks since I was foolish enough to include those skills on my resume. Now I pretty much only do desktop support.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've used exactly that line ("the job was represented as something its not") previously and it was accepted without issue.

Any employer who you'd want to work for would understand that not all employers are 100% honest or truthful.
posted by Kickstart70 at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2006

"Desired/desiring a position that provided a creative outlet, and better matched my skillsets." might work.
posted by disillusioned at 2:07 PM on March 8, 2006

I am trying to figure out if "I was hired to do web design and image manipulation, but they ended up assigning me nothing but desktop support. You can understand how frustrating it was to me to not be able to utilize any of my skills" is too negative. Is there a soft way to say "I was hired for X but was assigned Y and didn't enjoy it"?
posted by soma lkzx at 2:07 PM on March 8, 2006

It seems like you could be mostly honest: I was hired to do mostly web design and a little IT work, but now it's all IT work, and I miss having the opportunity to use my web design skills.
posted by goatdog at 2:07 PM on March 8, 2006

Yes, say the job turned out to be different than the one you were hired for. And if your previous work history doesn't make you look like a 6-month job-hopper, a new employer will probably accept that you made a wrong choice. Too many wrong choices on your resume don't look good though.
posted by essexjan at 2:14 PM on March 8, 2006

im in a similar situation being hired to do mainly html work and am now finding myself doing mainly PHP programming, but my problem isnt that i want to leave ( i love programming ) its that i negotiated my salary for the lesser work and responsibility of a html monkey
posted by BSummers at 2:18 PM on March 8, 2006

Ditto "Job was not what I expected" would work for me (I'm a manager.) (Or 'my boss was a bastard' works, too.)
posted by drobot at 2:20 PM on March 8, 2006

Rational people understand you're a person and an employee, not a robot and an indentured servant. There's nothing wrong with saying that the job didn't turn out to be what it was represented as so long as you come across as not being full of shit and/or a whiner. Presuming your work history isn't filled with 5 month gigs you won't have any real difficulty being convincing.

The trick is probably going to be managing to seem philosophical about the fact that it didn't work out when in fact you may be seething with rage and disappointment.
posted by phearlez at 2:36 PM on March 8, 2006

Yup. They didn't deliver what they promised. It's the honest answer, therefore more believable, and has the advantage of being completely understandable. Most of us have been in that situation. I was hired for a sales job, spent three weeks cleaning out a storage room and hunting down invoices for broken stock, realized there was no end in sight, and quit. Next employer didn't hold it against me. Two years later, employer #1 got their asses handed to them in court and were forced out of business.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:39 PM on March 8, 2006

I'm an executive, and "the job wasn't as advertised" would work for me, so long as your explanation showed significant and unforeseeable differences.

I'd shy away from "my boss was a total asshole", given that you have a much better reason available. I know that some bosses really are total assholes, but it's a cause for concern when an employee trashes their former employer.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:40 PM on March 8, 2006

You are your own PR agent. Rather than detail why you're leaving the current job, tell the new employers what you're looking for in a career. Tell them what you're passionate about, and how you think the new job will fulfill that passion. If they ask for details, talk about how the current position isn't matching your passions, and contrast that with all the wonderful ways the new position is going to turn you on.

People don't want to hear how bad it is at other companies. They want to hear how excited you are about their company.
posted by frogan at 2:46 PM on March 8, 2006

You know, you're not required to list every job on your resume. The only reason I'm mentioning this is that some people seem to think that they are.

Of course, in this case you'd need to come up with an excuse for quitting the job you had before this one, but whatever.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2006

Wow, you are me. I have been at my company for 4 months and my job (and the commute and clients) was totally misrepresented, but I too am fearful of a 6 month job "hop" on my resume. Good question. I also feel bad about leaving so soon, but they weren't fully truthful.
posted by aacheson at 3:01 PM on March 8, 2006

Just don't grumble so much about your changed job description that you get fired for not being all gung-ho to take on those new responsibilities with a permasmile. More importantly, don't get fired before you've secured yourself a new job. That's what happened to me a few years ago and I've been dealing with the effects ever since.
posted by emelenjr at 3:04 PM on March 8, 2006

Be as honest as you can, but the most important thing is to keep it professional - don't start bitching about the last job to a prospective new employer. As others have said, "Job was not what it was represented as" is a reasonable answer - if pressed for details, just be straight with them, and say that the job you are doing is not the job for which you were hired.

Good luck!
posted by pdb at 3:18 PM on March 8, 2006

"I just do not feel like my current employer is taking full advantage of my abilities" has worked for me several times.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:33 PM on March 8, 2006

I'd say that a place i had applied to earlier (at the same time that you were applying at this place) came through with an amazing offer that is just too good to turn down, and i'd leave it at that. I'd then apologize and keep quiet about any other stuff.
posted by amberglow at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2006

I think the schedule changing after being hired is an entirely appropriate reason. Be careful how you use it, you want to appear flexible to the new employer, too. Good luck!
posted by 45moore45 at 5:26 PM on March 8, 2006

Assuming you don't feel confident just dropping the job from your resume altogether, the challenge is to frame your experience in a way that doesn't make it look like you're complaining, even though you have every right to.


I was hired to web design and image manipulation, with some IT tasks since I was foolish enough to include those skills on my resume. Now I pretty much only do desktop support.

becomes something like:

"Our mutual understanding was that I took the job to do web design and image manipulation. That's what I'm really good at and passionate about. I also had some IT skills that were a bonus extra. After I joined, it turned out that the company needed those IT skills much more than anything else. I was happy to help get them on their feet, but it's not what my career is about. They need someone who specializes in that and I need to continue focusing on my most important skills, so that's why I'm here."

But, you know, shorter. Or said really fast.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:25 PM on March 8, 2006

Same situation. 3rd day schedule change (after making it clear in the interview my schedule was more important than $$). I'm hoping something along the lines of "I didn't inquire deeply enough about the details of the job. May I ask about . . . . " will work with my new (and hopefully soon) employer.
posted by KneeDeep at 7:35 PM on March 8, 2006

I didn't inquire deeply enough about the details of the job.

I wouldn't phrase it this way. In fact, I'd be very careful in your use of the word 'I', because this isn't your fault at all, and you don't want a future employer think "Ah, he's using nice turns of phrase--probably to protect his own culpability." When the truth of the matter is that you're putting things in a nice way to protect the integrity of your scumball former employer.

So the issue isn't that the job wasn't what you expected, or that you didn't do enough prodding to find out if it would be a good fit, but instead (as already mentioned) that the position was not accurately represented to you (aka, "they lied about what I'd be doing").
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:51 AM on March 9, 2006

Why should you have to worry about what to tell your new employer when you decided to move to [insert hipster city] to be with that special person you met on the internet?

and don't come off as whiney when you talk about your last position.
posted by craniac at 8:27 AM on March 9, 2006

I think the "not as advertised" issue is totally fair game. You obviously know well enough not to get into the personality issues. You can turn the "this isn't what I signed up for" into a positive rather than a negative, by saying X is what I love to do and I'm committed to it. It takes focus off what you wouldn't do for the ex-employer and onto what you are committed to doing for the (soon to maybe be) new employer.
posted by nanojath at 1:52 PM on March 9, 2006

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