CAREERS - Two years too late? Worker accused of ineptitude after resigning
Glenford Smith, Contributor
Q: I recently resigned from my job, giving the
required two weeks' notice. I did so due to the high level of
unprofessionalism, very low pay, and bad working conditions. I received a
call from head office stating that I lacked good work skills - being
disorganised, for instance. Why wait until after two years when I'm
resigning to outline this? My concern is, how do I move forward knowing
they might say these same things to companies when they call for a
A: Your concern is a valid one. It's almost certain that any prospective employer will call your previous employer to check up on you before offering you a job. This is usually done after you've been interviewed and have been shortlisted. You will, therefore, have the chance to frame this situation at the interview.
It's important that you evaluate the charge of incompetence as objectively as possible. I know: if it were true, why would they wait all that time to tell you? Nonetheless, the fact of their waiting until after two years doesn't negate the possibility they can be correct.
You specified that they charged you with being disorganised, for example. Is there any truth to that charge? We humans are aptly called the 'rationalising animal' for a reason. It is hard for us to see and admit our faults, flaws and frailties, while finding it easier to spot those of others. That's true of you, me, and the individual you spoke to from head office.
You should seek to clarify this charge with your former supervisor or manager, since head office had to have got such feedback from someone you work with. It's important that you get to the truth of the charge. If there's any truth to it, don't justify yourself or be defensive.
Now to your question of how to move forward. You'll have no control over what your former employer will say if questioned about you. It's also quite possible the 'poor work skills charge' might not be repeated.
Also, a prospective employer might not place as much weighting on it as you fear. In either case, it's something you can't control. So, refuse to worry over it, or allow it to overshadow your whole job-hunting process.
At the interview, the question might be asked, 'Why did you resign from your previous job?' That's the opportunity to address the issue, indirectly.
Emphasise that you resigned. It was your choice. Identify and state some pleasant, productive and educational aspects of the work experience. Share, however, that after two years, you felt the need to make a change. You wanted a better opportunity to earn more money, with a company that could better take advantage of your range of skills and experience.
Refrain from mentioning anything about unprofessionalism and poor working conditions at your former workplace. Keep your focus on explaining why you are the best candidate for the job. If you do this well, any charge of your being disorganised might not matter after all.
Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of From Problems to Power and co-author of Profile of Excellence. firstname.lastname@example.org