How to Explain Why You Left Your Last Job, with Andrew Peters

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One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in a job search is leaving your job for a new one after only a few months of being there. Will the new hiring manager see you as a flight risk? How can you overcome the appearance of being a job-hopper? On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Andrew Peters (www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-peters-6170929/) shares the strategies he used when leaving his job after only 10 months. Andrew and I also talk about how to use your network, including people you may not know very well, to get your resume in front of the hiring manager and how to build relationships so that you have connections to draw upon in the future. Learn more about Andrew’s path to career satisfaction below in this installment of our Success Stories (www.macslist.org/stories) series.

What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

At different times, I’ve called myself a lobbyist, an advocate, and a policy professional. I started my career working with large philanthropic clients in health and health care, transitioned to a narrower focus on state law and policy for several years, and now am returning to work in philanthropy.

I recently joined the team at Arabella Advisors, a certified B corporation that works with philanthropic clients to create social change across many sectors, including health, environment, human rights, education, and more. My role as a consultant at Arabella is to work with clients who are interested in making investments in advocacy and policy change.

How long did it take you to find this job?

It took me about about two months of searching to find this particular job posting, and then another three months to go through the interview process.

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

I am based in D.C., and I subscribed to a service called Brad Traverse Job Listings, which is an amazing site for government affairs, policy, communications, and government positions. Most of them are in D.C, but there are listings from all over the country. This is the second job I have found from Brad’s service. The job had also been listed on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and a couple other places.

After applying, I mapped my connections to Arabella Advisors on LinkedIn. I saw that two of my former colleagues were connected to people that had worked at Arabella, so I asked them for a connection to those people. I spoke with one former employee to get a sense of the organization, and a former colleague passed my resume to a current employee.

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

One of the hardest parts of this search is that I had only been with my former job for about 9 months. It can be difficult to explain a short period of employment to prospective employers. There are lots of guidelines out there about how long you need to be at a job before it “looks good enough” on your resume to leave, many of which I had to ignore.

I was honest in my interviews about my reasons for wanting to leave and my intention to find a better employment match. I praised my former employer in interviews, just noting that the role I had was not for me.

Another challenge for me was being realistic with myself about the jobs for which I could solidly demonstrate expertise. Sometimes, you’ll look at a job description, tick through the qualifications, and, whether or not you have the experience to back it up, you’ll think, “yeah, of course I could do this.” That’s a rationalization trap I have fallen into and it has led to a lot of rejection.

This time, I tried to put myself in the hiring manager’s shoes and ask whether my resume and cover letter spoke directly to the experience they were asking for. I admit that trying to get into a recruiter’s head might be a recipe for disaster, but thinking hard about whether a job was really a good fit is an important step.

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?

Make sure your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile are all perfect: good design, concise bullets, no typos, and quality content that speaks to the position(s).

Even with a perfect package, job-searching is a stressful and painful process. With each job I applied for I started to imagine what it was going to be like and what I’d do once I got it. I got emotionally invested, and I think that’s pretty natural. But that also means it hurt more when I didn’t get the job. It’s really easy to let your sense of self-worth get run down by rejections, especially if the process takes months or even years. My advice, even though it’s difficult, is to stay confident in your talent and abilities.

Why do you love your job?

I am a week into work at Arabella, and so far I really appreciate the passion that my colleagues bring to their work. They’re deeply professional and very motivated to help clients achieve positive social change. It’s exciting, and feels like a great fit.

Want to learn more about Andrew? Connect with him on LinkedIn

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