Anna R. on September 21, 2021
I have a couple questions:)
First, I mistakenly left a job recently that I had only been in 5 months because I wanted to focus on a doctoral program I just began in August. It was already complicated, because while I had been at that hospital (I'm a nurse) for a year, I had to leave the first job due to lack of accommodations for cancer related disability. Fortunately, at least in terms of resume, I can still include the entire year I worked there and just have in the job description the two different roles. However, I don't know how to explain why I changed roles when it already looks bad I left after only a year. I wish I could lie and say that it was temporary and they couldn't accommodate me, but clearly lying isn't a good option and while I have a enthusiastic reference for the second position, she is not someone who would be willing to say she worked with me longer than she did were I to omit the description of the first role. Also, those are skills that are beneficial for applying.
Second, I mistakenly left this said position when they wouldn't reduce hours in order to focus on a new doctoral program I started in August. Unfortunately, my chemo brain 4 years out is much worse than anticipated and I failed my first exam, and likely will have to withdraw as I won't be able to 'come back' from that grade.On one hand, If I withdraw, I no longer have an explanation of why I quit my last job and have this gap (I am actively searching and interviewing for new jobs this week). On the other hand, saying that you are in an advanced degree program in nursing is a red flag as they worry you will leave soon (even though I would argue my program is 4.5 years so who cares?).
So my questions are, how to explain the transfer in jobs this past year and second, do I disclose I'm in school as a reason for the gap? and if I leave how do I explain it?
Nicole Jarvis, LMSW
Sep 22, 2021
Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:
Thanks so much for reaching out and I’m sorry to hear you’re facing these challenges! The good news is, there are ways to work around some of these explanations, without lying, and still present yourself as a trustworthy and loyal employee. I am going to pass this question along to one of our career coaches but in the meantime I wanted to address some of what you expressed in your message.
This past year has been a whirlwind in terms of changes – personal and career related. Many people had to leave their jobs for a number of reasons. With that said, you can get creative about the spin you put on your reasoning. If you have a solid reference at that job, use it! Just talk to her about what you want to be shared and what you don’t. It’s okay, and in fact more relevant, for her to more focus on your ability and skills as an employee versus discuss why you left.
As for explanations around leaving your last job and having a gap, it’s also about getting creative and really practicing what you’ll say. For instance, you can cite a desire to explore another path but then recognizing that you actually want to do whatever it is you’re applying for. Remember, no one tells everything about everything during job interviews. It’s about presenting yourself in a positive light and highlighting what it is about you, your skills, and your experience that make you the ideal candidate for the role.
I’d encourage you to utilize our free Resume Review Service to get your resume in the right shape for these positions you’re applying for and formatting in a way that shows your experience while not focusing too heavily on timelines. I’d also recommend taking a look at some of our Job Search resources as this can provide examples for interviewing and handling some of the more challenging questions and conversations.
Always feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com with any questions or if you’d like any further information.
Nicole Jarvis, LMSW
Assistant Director of Programs
Cancer and Careers
Sep 23, 2021
Career Coach Comment:
I am so sorry that you are experiencing these feelings of disappointment and frustration. My initial reaction to your situation is that you are being incredibly hard on yourself. When you made the decision to leave your job, you made this decision because you thought it was the right move in order to pursue a doctoral program. Then, much to your dismay you realized that it isn't the right timing to pursue a doctoral degree. Now, you feel as if you are left with nothing so you have decided to beat yourself up about what you believe was poor decision making.
To echo Nicole a bit, there are thousands and thousands of people who have quit their jobs without a job, are changing careers, are going back to school, have moved, or are just taking a break thanks to the pandemic. Employers simply are not focused on gaps anymore especially as it is an employee's market.
This said, it is important to get your short narrative down on about why you left in case the question comes up, practice it, and focus on your job search instead of the past. You have great experience, you are smart, a good person, and no doubt many other wonderful qualities. It's time for you to focus on these things and find your next great job!
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