i was laid off from my job of nearly four years over a year ago and rather than looking for a new job straight away, took a gap year (now gap year and a half!) to "discover myself" aka go on tour, shop when everyone else is at work, discover meditation and new ways of styling my hair, and travel. now that my unemployment wages are due to run out and i feel sort of lazy and ready to become a gainfully employed member of society again, i have a few job interviews lined up. i've already had two and both times the interviewer asked me why i left my former position. i got tripped up and gave a long-winded story about how my position was made redundant but i feel like this automatically puts me in a position where they see me as unemployable and assume that if the company is still in business, i must have been a bad employee.
my question is- would it be totally irresponsible to just say that i left my job because i wanted to move on or make up a slight white lie without saying the words "laid off" so my potential new employer won't see me as a failure? i know this could potentially come back to bite me in the ass, but it could also help me actually get a job and feel productive again. everyone embellishes on their resume a little bit, right? would this be much different? looking forward to your reply.
your currently semi-unemployed friend who is in a bit of a moral dilemma
but no, i say! no no no! for a few years after college i worked in advertising and the other women in the office would always tell me the things i "have to" or "should" do in terms of career/job stuffs, investing money stuffs, la la la general life stuffs. these things were usually just the things they did, the things that most people did - the normal, safe things that our society tells us we have to/should do. these were the things that got them to where they were and yes, i will give them credit that they were quite 'normal' and their lives were as 'safe' as could be (until the 2008 financial collapse anyway) but you know what else they were? totally fucking miserable!! omg. they were as miserable working in that office for low wages and high stress as i was - and they did it for 30 MORE YEARS THAN ME. shot not, mofos! i loved these ladies, they were total sweethearts, but their lives were not what i wanted for myself AT ALLLLLLLL. all they did was work 50+hrs a week (not including commute), save money, stress about money, spend money on decorative pillows, repeat. they had families they didn't see as much as they wanted to. they had dreams of traveling but rarely did because their vacation time (2 weeks for a whole year? fuck you!) got eaten into by needing more sick or personal days for themselves or their kids. it was totally heartbreaking and taught me some real life lessons that i still hold quite dear. (namely, my favorite life lesson aka fuck the man)
and that's the gift of being in a younger generation, yeah? we can see where the older gens got it right and where they got it wrong and choose for ourselves which way we want to go. i think it's def heading that way in certain aspects (hi #OWS and the rise of freelance/mobile/internet work etc). our generation may get dissed for being a bunch of self-obsessed, lazy, attention-seeking crybabies, and on our worst day that probably holds true, but i think we are also much better at understanding and valuing balance and we are beginning to redefine what success and happiness mean to us. the older gens are just scared and weirded out because we're rocking their boat, you know? it's normal, it happens.
but woah, sorry. where did any of that come from? you didn't ask any of this. you just want to know if you can tell your prospective employers a little white lie to get out from saying that you were laid off. i honestly don't think you have to?! being laid off is so common nowadays and i don't think it has the stigma attached to it that you are attaching to it. maybe this is leftover guilt from somewhere/something else??
i think the trick is in just saying the truth with confidence. when this question gets brought up, don't hem and haw. fucking lay it out all like, "the company made cuts and my department was hit hard" - or something along those lines. it's really about how you say it rather than what you say in this case. especially because you weren't fired for being a bad employee - your position was made redundant (right?) so like, what can you do? just own it like i know you're owning that awesome gap year.
also, please let me know how you started to style your hair?! and where did you travel to?! I'M DYING TO KNOW.
back with a vengeance,
remember when i told you about always having amazing, awesome, super smart friends around you to fill in yr blanks? well, after this was posted, i got a message from one such friend, named renae, who coincidentally was the girl who trained me at that old advertising job i mentioned above. she has since gone on to hugely bigger and better things out in LA and seriously knows how to nail an interview based on her suggestions below. as i've been working as a nanny/sometime pre-school teacher, i have not had to 'sell' myself in this way in a long while, hence, renae nailing it and filling in my blanks. yayy. keep your smart and amazing friends close, for reeeeal. here is her update!:
you should tell the interviewer the truth that there was no room for growth at the small company where you were working and you had gotten all you could out of your position. While you had learned this that and the other thing (fill in with actual stuff about the industry, what you liked/didn't... the things you liked somehow relating to the position for which you're interviewing... ) but you weren't sure at that point, a year-ish ago, that you were ready to dive right into yet another corporate position while you, in fact, had the financial freedom to take a hiatus and really figure out what profession it is that will be most fulfilling for you. You travelled, read a ton, took some classes, were involved in a startup that didn't wind up getting funded (but you learned a lot) and participated in some political events that meant a lot to you. You came out knowing that THIS is the exact next step you need to take on your career path because you want to be a _____ and you're super amped about it. You not only have the qualifications suited for the position but you now have a level of commitment that they won't find in other women your age who have yet to take this time off to do what you did.
CAN YOU EVEN HANDLE THAT? she hit it out of the park!!
thanks renae! god bless you and god bless america, good night.