'Toxic' doesn't mean the same thing to everyone, so skew to the positive - Albuquerque Journal

‘Toxic’ doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, so skew to the positive

Dear J.T. & Dale: What should I say in a job interview about why I’m leaving my current position? The truth is, I’m leaving because it’s very toxic. And I can’t say that I’m leaving for “career growth,” because the job I’m applying to is the exact role that I’m in now. – Corey

J.T.: In my experience, what you think is toxic may not be toxic to everyone else. That’s why the best answer is an objective explanation. I would tell them that, when you joined the company, you thought that it had a certain set of values and beliefs, especially the manager you were reporting to. However, now that you’ve been there for a while, you’re looking for a place where it’s a better cultural fit. Be prepared to give an example – like the boss is always yelling and micromanaging everyone. Then, you would add something around the fact that you value a more hands-off environment where they trust you. Always end on a positive note and tell them you’re so excited to be interviewing with them because you know you can do the job, and, having done your homework, you realize their organization is a much better fit for you in terms of values and beliefs.

DALE: I’m not sure about that approach. Blathering on about values and beliefs is trying to walk atop the mud; I fear that the hiring manager will start asking for specifics and, there you go, sinking in. Instead, I would skip straight to what J.T. was suggesting at the end, the positive note. You want a change because of pull, not push. That is, you’re not running from a bad management, you’re looking for a good environment. Just say that you’re looking for a chance to be part of an excelling team, one with real camaraderie. The managers you’re talking to will love that, if they’re any good. And if they’re not, why make a lateral move?

Dear J.T. & Dale: Because I’m really worried about age discrimination, I’ve taken all dates off my résumé that can make me look old. I’m 60 years old, but everyone tells me I look 40. Even so, companies are requiring me to apply online and, when I do, there’s always a mandatory date in there that will, of course, tell them what my age is. How can I get around this? – Petra

DALE: The first thing I’d tell you is not to worry about age discrimination. I know, I know – it exists and can be a big obstacle. Indeed, let’s say it’s a huge obstacle and that only 50% of hiring managers would even consider hiring someone your age. But here’s the real problem: What percentage of online applications get a serious look from a hiring manager? 1%? .01%? Your real obstacle is not getting to the 50% who’d consider you.

J.T.: Plus, when it comes to applying online, you can’t get around the age issue – skipping answers on there usually results in you being disqualified. My advice is to forget about applying online altogether. Instead, you want to find people who work at the company, and connect with them and ask if they would pass your résumé on directly to a hiring manager. Hopefully, you can get a conversation going and they can fall in love with you, so that when they eventually tell you that HR requires you to fill out the online application, it won’t matter at that point. I understand your concern, and it is really unfair, but, honestly, people of all ages get disqualified online all the time, so the method I’m suggesting really works for any age. Contact people directly and age becomes far less of a factor.

DALE: Contacting people directly is where veteran workers have the advantage. Make a list of every former colleague who you liked, and find them online and start reconnecting. It will feel odd for a day, but then you’ll discover how glad everyone is to hear from you, and you’ll soon learn that they’d love to help.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2021 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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