Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Leaving Your Job? Don't Go Out Like the Lakers Did!

There's going out with a bang, going out with a whimper, going out with class, going out angry - and then there's the 2010-2011 Los Angeles Lakers.

When you leave a job, voluntarily or not, it's important that you leave on the most positive terms possible. Otherwise, you may be carrying some unnecessary baggage to your next job interview and for many years into your career.

Sure, you have the right to mutter and muse privately about how the job was difficult, the boss was a control freak and ogre who never met a cocktail he didn't like, or that your co-workers were incompetent backstabbers. But dirty laundry is and should always be a private matter.

Now, as for the Lakers, they ended their basketball season with a highly discordant bang and a boom Sunday. In their playoff-eliminating loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers lost by an embarrassing 36 points and saw two of their players ejected after committing harder than hard fouls.  It was an ugly exit for a team that won the NBA title last year. When the team takes the court again in less than six months, that exit will still be on the minds of more than a few basketball fans.

Here are two reasons why you should leave a job with class and keep negative feelings to yourself:

  • Look forward, not backward. Your focus should be on the next step in your career. If you're asked about what happened at the job you left, state the reason factually and without a hint of emotion. ("My boss and I had differences of opinion on how to get the job done. Try as I did to do it his way, he still thought things weren't working out.") Then, turn the focus to what you learned on the job and how it can help a new employer. There's a better chance the hiring manager will focus on that and not on the reasons behind your departure.
  • Employers don't like malcontents. If you diss a former employer, the hiring manager for what could be your new employer may wonder if he or she will be in for the same treatment once you leave. They don't want that. They're looking for someone who will do the job, get along with coworkers, and have good things to say about the place during and after your employment.

If you want a hiring manager to remember you well after a job interview, be sure it's for something positive, memorable, and thought-provoking that you say that can create a great, lasting impression.

What advice would you like to share about leaving a job that created a lot of negative, personal feelings? Please share them in a comment below.

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