Why do applications ask for a reason for leaving if your past employer cannot say anything bad about you anyway? Will it look bad if I refuse to answer the question, May we contact your past employer? If I am asked about gaps in employment, can I say
Filling Out Applications
Dear Donna replies:
Dear Filling Out Applications,
When a prospective employer asks about why you left your last job, they are looking for information: Did you resign? Were you laid off? Were you fired? Did you relocate? There are many reasons people leave jobs.
If asked if they can contact your past employer and you say ‘no,’ it will raise some red flags unless it is because that employer went out of business or something similar. They often want to contact a previous employer just to verify you actually worked there since some people might falsify applications and resumes. But if you left on bad terms, were fired or other challenging circumstances, you can’t be certain what will be revealed. It is true that most employers will only verify employment dates these days.
Regarding gaps in employment and depending on how long and how often those gaps were, you might say, “seeking new position, “personal/family circumstances” and/ or “pursuing higher education” if any of those pertain to your situation.
If you have a problematic work history, you might want to consult with a nurse career coach (as opposed to a non-nurse coach) to help you work through those issues. Find a nurse career coach by asking around, doing an Internet search or getting a referral from your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org), whether or not you are a member.
Read Picking up the pieces of your career (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces) for more useful tips to get your career back on track.