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How Do I Explain on a Resume Why I Left a Job?

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by Lisa Johnson

over 2 years ago

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I read on your blog last week about someone leaving a job because of bullying. This happened to me too, and I was wondering: how can I explain this on my resume?

Sadly, this scenario is more common than all of us would like to admit, and I am sorry you too have experienced this type of situation. Firstly, I believe that prospective employers (and recruiters) really see a lot of value in having job applicants add reasons for leaving their previous jobs on their resumes. Of course, they can be corroborated by a reference check, as this is one of the most common questions asked when references are being obtained. You need to find a balance by giving the appropriate amount of information and not writing an essay, which may be construed (or misconstrued) as being negative and derogatory towards a former employer. As you would know, this is not advised on a resume or in an interview. The point I am making is that there should be just enough information for you then to elaborate in an interview, if required. 

For example, 'sought a more supportive working environment', or 'decided to move out of the XYZ industry,' or, if you have been with the employer for say, three or more years, 'seeking a change of industry to develop a broader skill set.' I wouldn't advise on something like, 'left because the management style of the company was causing issues with my health.' This is a very subjective statement and is open to all sorts of interpretation. Leave the details to when you have the opportunity to explain in more detail, in person, in the interview. Even then, it's best to just say you were looking for a change in working culture and try to move on to the next point to sell yourself and your skills to your prospective employer. No doubt you would have asked for a reference from your previous employer (no doubt the person who was not involved in the bullying behaviour), and I would imagine the details will come out at that stage of the process.


Have a question for Manda Milling, people2people Director? Let us know in the comments or tweet @p2pManda!

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