Job Ended Badly? Here’s How To Explain It

Have you ever had a bad experience leaving a job? Sometimes leaving a job can happen in a negative way, such a being fired or feeling so frustrated you quit on the spot.

It’s not always easy to talk about, and if you’re looking for a new role, you may be concerned about how you can handle any tricky questions or potential consequences that come from leaving your old job.

Here we have included some advice from SEEK to help you.

Leaving a job can be difficult
If you’ve found yourself leaving a job in less-than-ideal circumstances, you’re not alone. Almost a third of people (31%) have left a job without any back-up plan, research for SEEK has found, while 14% of people say they’ve been fired from a job.

It’s not uncommon to have to quit in a hurry, with almost 1 in 5 people saying they have spontaneously quit because they felt too angry or frustrated. Interestingly, 62% of these people believe it resulted in a better outcome for them.

Should you include the job on your resume?
Around 3 in 5 people who’ve been fired or quit in frustration say they wouldn’t include that job in their resume, nor would they mention it at a job interview.

Career coaches consulted by Seek state it’s best to include the job on your resume. “Unexplained gaps on resumes are never looked upon favourably, and you do not need to include your specific reason for leaving on your resume,” says Graham Wynn.

Leah Lambart agrees that it’s better to be upfront about a role, rather than worrying that you’ll be caught out, even if you made a mistake. “I would always encourage people to be upfront and honest about previous work experience that possibly ended badly,” she says.

Should you talk about it to potential new employers?
If you’re in an interview, openness and honesty are still important, but don’t let what went wrong with your last role take over the whole conversation.

Employers will typically ask ‘why did you leave your last job?’ and Lambart says your answer doesn’t have to focus on explaining the circumstances you left in. Instead, she recommends making a statement about the role you’re going for.

You might be asked specifically about the circumstances that led to you leaving. Be careful not to be too negative towards your employer, Wynn says, recommending you take emotion out of the response and simply state the situation that arose.

If you were in the role you left for a substantial period, it’s a positive sign for employers regardless of what led to your swift departure, Wynn points out. “It indicates your performance overall would likely have been satisfactory, and something must have happened or changed to make you resign or lose your job,” he says.

How you can highlight the positives
The key to turning a potential red flag into a positive in your interview is to focus on how you have grown from the experience professionally. Wynn says this could also be an opportunity to show that you see how the situation could have been avoided or improved, whether that’s through additional training, or perhaps a better process for resolving conflict.

Lambart says it’s important to show that you’ve reflected on the experience, learned from it, and taken specific actions to prevent it from arising again.

Being honest – but brief – is often best
Whether it’s in your application or an interview, it’s important not to put too much focus on a job that you had a bad experience leaving.

“Employers are much more understanding of people leaving workplaces if the job is not right for them,” Wynn says. “To lie would be worse, as the real reasons for your leaving could be discovered through reference checking.”

If an employer does ask for more information, simply and honestly explain the circumstances that were less than ideal, without over-explaining or justifying the situation. Focus on other, more positive roles you’ve had, and what you’re aiming for in the new role.

Being able to recognise an issue and come up with possible solutions is a soft skill that employers value, so showing that you’ve learned from the experience can be worthwhile. By practicing this approach and how you’ll answer potential questions, you can build up your confidence and be better on track to landing your next role.

For anyone requiring assistance with an upcoming interview, or specifically addressing situations like those described in the article, we offer interview coaching as one of our services.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. 

Article originally published with SEEK

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