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To jump or not...


I am in my 3rd job for around 13 months. My earlier jobs lasted 27 months apiece. Currently I have to put up with a very horrible manager. I interviewed with a large organization (Fortune 500) which was ready to make an offer (lesser than what I am currently getting) and a smaller role. I was interviewed by the team that had the opening. I found the people good.

The interviewers repeatedly asking me why I changed jobs. I presume a few of you who visit JOS would have experienced a similar situation. What is the advice you have for me?


Friday, July 11, 2003

Uh, tell them why you changed jobs?

However, be very wary of blaming bad management. There are two gotchas here -
1) The interviewer knows someone where you work, this will backfire the comment directly onto you.
2) I think a lot of interviewers interpret "bad management" as "I didn't like it there" - in other words, if your cube is a few inches too small at the new job you'll be back on the market.


Friday, July 11, 2003

Politicians never answer a question directly:

".. actually I'm interested in what you do, and when I saw you were hiring I jumped at the chance .."

constructive comment
Friday, July 11, 2003

Why DID you change jobs so often?

Friday, July 11, 2003

Bad management - that's the truth!

Friday, July 11, 2003

Changing jobs every couple years is pretty much par for the industry. 13 months is an interesting length, though, because you've clearly put up with 13 months worth of crap... I've left jobs after 2 or 3 months (and then subsequently removed them from my resume) for being a bad fit, but after more than a year, it's hard to swallow.

Brad Wilson (
Friday, July 11, 2003

>> Bad management - that's the truth!

Your unlikely to deal with that by changing jobs every year.

Tony E
Friday, July 11, 2003

You could just tell what was wrong in the abstract.  What does bad management mean in the context of creating a product that clients want to buy?  What, in a detached objective sense, caused the problems, and did this hit you out of nowhere when you attempted to solve the product's problems?  And finally, do you believe that this new team lacks these forseeable problems, or at least empowers you to take no-nonsense steps to fix things?

I've never been asked this, just fantasizing...

das gringo
Friday, July 11, 2003

The polite way to say "bad management" in an interview was that you had a "bad fit" with the previous department.  It acknowledges that it was bad management from your perspective, but that it's not necessarily "I'm right and they're wrong."  Describe it as a long time trying to make the relationship work, followed by a choice to move on for better opportunities.

Yes, it's all spin, but if you don't choke on it during the interview, you'll be fine.

Justin Johnson
Friday, July 11, 2003

Have you exhausted all options for working with this manager?

As Dr. Phil says "we teach people how to treat us".  You sometimes have to teach managers, too.

That said, sometimes managers can't be taught.

Do you know what your manager WANTS? What's his CURRENCY?

I.e., wants his department to {save money | meet schedule | look cool | satisfy his personal needs}

If you and he have completely incompatible GOALS, then you can probably never reach compromise.

BUT, if you can agree with SOME (or one) of his GOALS, you can use that as leverage.  Make all appeals based on that.

Ex: my wife had a horrible boss who's two goals were : Satisfy my personal emotional needs (she had a sick husband and no other family) and "make my look cool and hi tech". (Bare in mind this was a HOSPITAL department!!)

They could never reach agreement on #1 (she was simply too needy. She'd show up at meetings drunk, etc.).  But, she could emphasize the "we're cool factor" when she was trying to sway the boss.

As Charlies says, though, "Now [she] works for me".  She thinks I'm an amazing boss <g>.


These are short and to the point. And I've read only the second book below, but it's great.

Quiting: Knowing when to leave by Dale Dauten

The Gifted Boss by Dale Dauten

He's written a lot of books (I've read on the above, which is good) about exceptional employees and bosses.  How to find each of them.

More books by Dale:

Friday, July 11, 2003

I have two suggestions:

First, try to avoid mentioning that the projects you worked on eventually flopped.  Often folks will assume the best of what they didn't understand or didn't hear details about.  It's not lying -- if they ask you, fess up to it, but don't volunteer that information.

Second, blame the economy, blame the software, blame the customers for not buying it, blaming poor marketing, blame anything except the people you worked with.  Folks don't want to work with a whiner.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Answer honestly.

Interestingly I often got questioned as to why I _didn't_ change jobs when I was in the hunt : I spent about 5 years at the same firm, and this is viewed negatively by many in the industry. The reason, of course, is that this industry is notorious for only allowing upward mobility by changing organizations (i.e. most firms don't promote their own, but always presume every joe off the street must be better than the people they have, which is why at most firms you have to leave every year or so or you're stagnating).

Anonymous Cowboy
Friday, July 11, 2003

You'll have to trust the interviewer, who doesn't know you from Adam, to intrepret your issues with your manager as reasonable and not the complaints of someone who can't work with people.  Don't create this opportunity for misinterpretation.

Instead, focus on the positives of the moving to the interviewer's organization.  You think the business space they are in will provide an interesting career.  You like the technology they are using.  You believe they will provide better opportunities for advancement (a sensible tradeoff for a one-time pay cut).  Anything that makes you sound like a winner trying to attach yourself to a good organization, not a whiner who's burned his bridges.

If you are pressed for what is "wrong" with your current company, describe it in terms of the lack of the above.  You are not motivated by the work available, there are not using appropriate technology for their problems, there's no room to grow, etc.

Don't answer tricky questions directly (as constructive comment pointed out), use them as opportunities to deliver the message you want them to hear.

Friday, July 11, 2003

My manager loves to conduct meetings every 30 mins...
and wants everyone to stay back late for reason. Loves to conduct meetings between 6.00PM and 9.00PM... all we do every day is to write some kind of documents as mandated by him.

He has terrible mood swings and calls me into his room and sometimes harps on some praise while most other times starts off tangentially on some managerial crap like: "you know there are 2 kinds of leaders... what are they?"... or simply calls me in and shouts: "if you don't listen to me i will have you fired... i will screw your performance appraisal...".

What I found about him was that he loves documents, presentations, meetings, any words that would stroke his ego, lots of e-mails, etc... No work towards getting the product out. Being a technically inclined guy, i felt all these were crap.

P.S.: He joined just 3 months back.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Well, i forgot to mention that during my interview, I never said anything about any management stuff. I concentrated on my skills and on knowing more about how i fitted into the place. For certain tricky questions, i just smiled and moved on to asking about a career plan.

Friday, July 11, 2003

NEVER say bad things about previous employers. People who gossip to you behind other people's back will likely also gossip to other people behind YOUR back. Interviewers don't want people who (seem to) have a bad attitude.

I've had my share of people problems at work, but I don't want to drag them along with me.

Friday, July 11, 2003


Your boss sounds like he's an emotional mess.

What is HIS boss asking of HIM?

Hmmm... could Mr. Boss be AFRAID of working on something that actually produces tangible results, beause then his competency would be revealed?  Essentially, all this busy work is PROCRASTINATION?

I.e., if he just gives you busy work, then no one ever sees the resulting work-product he's giving you. If he focused on something real (getting project done on time) he is risking failing at something that will be noticed.

Often times, people are insecure and the hide that insecurity in very counterproductive ways: yelling instead of listening, reacting instead of acting, procrastinating, etc.

Have you tried asking him what YOU can do for HIM?

Perhaps get a list of the top 5 things you can do to make HIM look good to HIS boss.
IF you can find ONE thing YOU agree on (e.g., "finish projects on time") then perhaps you can say "If you let me make this a top priority, I think I can deliver that for you".

Friday, July 11, 2003

You've got a far more serious problem to deal with than explaining to prospective employers why you've changed jobs so often.  First, you have to explain it to yourself.  Honestly.

After a string of bad job experiences, you have to ask yourself, "Why have I repeately chosen to work at lousy places?"  Until you can answer that question, how can you choose a new employer with any confidence of a good outcome?

Maybe you think that I'm playing Blame The Victim here, but you have a problem that a lot of us, myself included, have experienced at one time or another.  The only way out is to figure out what you're doing wrong, company-picking-wise, and correct it. 

It's either that or assume that every place is bad.  The good news is, there are some great places to work.  But it takes some effort to find them. 

Hardware Guy
Friday, July 11, 2003

I found out that changing my job every 2-3 years is about right.

It gives me an edge over my new team since I usually have much more experience from all my previous jobs and also prevents me from burning out.

19th floor
Friday, July 11, 2003

I plan to get back to the people whom i interviewed with. The HR had said that she would get back to me in a day's time but no mails so far. I even plan to ask them what best they can offer.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

To jump or not to jump...

Do NOT jump (off the bridge), please.

Read this

Who knows, you might be one day a bad manager too, and other people will change jobs because of you. That's not a reason to jump. See, if the managment of the first job would jump, you wouldn't think of jumping, so because they didn't jump, it doesn't mean that you have to jump.

Good luck John.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

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