‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I was working at a nonprofit as a grant writer. I enjoyed it and fit in. Then a friend offered me a job at a nonprofit that paid more money. I took the job, despite some flags, because, hey, it was more money. After four months, I’ve realized it was a bad decision. I don’t fit in with the culture at all. What do I tell prospective employers about my fast desertion? Is it OK to say I’m not a good fit, or am I just stuck for a while? — Shannon
Dale: Most people are willing to forgive you ONE career mistake; however, make TWO, and it’s a pattern and you’re a “malcontent.” So, if this is your one mistake, whether you admit it after four months or a year won’t matter much. Go get yourself unstuck.
J.T.: As you do, the most important thing is how you explain your desire to depart so quickly. I’d make it clear that you see your error in leaving a good job just for money. Learning this lesson, and sharing how it has made you (A) better able to choose the right employer and (B) less likely to jump ship just for pay, are two points any new employer wants to hear.
Dale: Well…I’d stress the sold-my-soul note only if you are certain that you’ll need to take a pay cut to move on. If so, then a comment about how your current employer “paid so much because it had to” will go a long way toward easing the natural concern about hiring someone at a lower salary. On the other hand, if you have a shot at the same pay or more, just say that your friend talked you into the new job, and leave out the pay.
J.T.: Either way, stress how much you want to find work where you enjoy the team; everyone wants a co-worker who is a team player.
Dale: And don’t go into interviews worrying about your quick switch. A career mistake can, in an odd way, be an advantage — it humanizes you while proving you’re the sort of person who can admit a mistake and learn from it.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
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