After over 15 years of service my employer decided to accept my resignation or terminate my employment. Of course I chose to resign. I was their top Project Manager, and after a customer complaint, which was my word against the word of the client, they decided to let me go. Now I’m having a hard time deciding the right words to use as a reason for leaving a company after 15 years.
First, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I only hope it will lead you to an even better job where you and your hard work are appreciated.
Usually the best way to answer a question like this is to lead and end with your strength. And never say anything bad about your former employer!Not saying these exact words, but something like” “I spent many happy years working for XYZ company and received many good reviews over the years from customers and managers alike (top project manager would go fine here), but I recently started thinking about what I want now in my life and I decided it’s time for a change. When I saw your ad, I got excited because I see a chance for me to take on new challenges such as ____ and _____.”
Now, let me say that interviewers, and I’m one myself on occasion, are slightly suspicious when they see a person has left a company. So I’m more concerned about your references. If your employer is going to badmouth you in a reference and make it seem like you’re a problem employee, your answer alone won’t cut it.
Good news is, nowadays, most employers prefer to just give a vague answer rather than try to keep the person from getting a new job. Less good news is when interviewers hear a vague answer, we know there’s more to the story. So I hope, since you’ve been in only one job for so long, you have other excellent references from the company. And, if you haven’t already asked this and if it’s at all possible, it might be worth asking your former boss if he would at least be willing to give you a decent reference. Many do so.
Oh..one other bit of good news. Your longevity at your former company shows you’re steady and committed to your work, and it also shows you must have been liked well enough to be there that long. Interviewers know stuff happens sometimes that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad risk for them. If you bring your best game to the interview, and wow them with enthusiasm and readiness to take on a new challenge (so they don’t think you’re a “lifer” type who doesn’t work hard and was coasting through your job), few employers will care much about the precise reasons you left.
If any of my readers have good suggestions for Edwin, please feel free to share them with him. I want him to have the best shot possible at finding a new job he can love, maybe even for another 15 years!
Good luck, Edwin.
In case you’re curious, this post comes from an October 2, 2008 comment on:
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, Career Nook and on Google+.