What if you left a job in difficult circumstances?

This area is one of the most difficult aspects of job search advice. This is because most job search literature does not make any real attempt to cover the topic in any detail. I am certain this is due to the lack of experience of authors and so-called experts in the career development profession. It is one of those topics that unless you have been through it yourself or have seen the unfortunate consequences of it, it is unlikely you are in a position to provide any proper advice.

I want to spend some time on this topic because I feel it is where I can provide the greatest assistance. I also know that people who have left their jobs in difficult circumstances are in a vulnerable position as far as their job search is concerned. This is because employers secretly do not like candidates who are unemployed unless there is a really good reason for it. This adds a lot of pressure to unemployed candidates because not only do they need to win that job and compete with others who are employed but they also need to carefully justify their current state of unemployment.

If there is any solid advice I can give you, it is to look for a job whilst you are still employed. The contradiction here is that people do lose their jobs for many reasons. There are many reasons why people leave their jobs. In some cases it may be in difficult circumstances such as:

  • Redundancy or retrenchment
  • Fall-out with your boss
  • Restructuring of duties
  • Serious misconduct
  • Poor performance
  • Taking a break (sabbatical)
  • Personal issues
  • Health
  • Not an organisational fit.

Whatever the circumstances are, you must not lose faith in your abilities or lose self-confidence. This is easy to do when you leave a job in difficult circumstances because we can be very hard on ourselves. You will go through a process of self-doubt and rejection – questioning constantly your role in having lost your job and what you could have done to redeem the situation or prevent it from happening. Just remember this, once you leave an organisation in difficult circumstances it is over!

No matter what you do now you cannot change what has happened rightly or wrongly. You must leave it be and move on.

The best you can do is learn from your experience. If you have been made redundant for example, then the decision was out of your control and there was probably nothing you could do about it. Don’t blame yourself for decisions you had no influence on. Companies are restructuring all the time today and it is a normal part of business. You will have to come to terms with this and accept it as a part of the working landscape. If your boss has told you that things are not working out because you are not a fit then don’t take it personally.

You may have been good at what you do, however, organisational cultures can be complex and sometimes we can be different for a variety of good reasons.

My friend Daniel was unhappy in his job and decided to make a brave decision and leave his position to look for something else. He resigned his job with nothing to go to. People thought he was mad for doing this but I advised him he was brave for leaving a situation that was not working for him. Daniel had confidence in himself and his abilities and he never gave up on his desire to get another job. With some job search advice and fine-tuning of his resume I was able to assist him in getting another job and guess what? It was a better-paid job in a larger organisation.

His move had paid off for him. I acknowledge his success to be based on self-confidence and letting go of the past. Daniel had also accepted the reality of his current situation and was able to develop a script for interviews that ensured he was able to sell his reasons for leaving to potential employers and employment consultants. Daniel had left in difficult circumstances, however he was able to make it work with a proper job search strategy.


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