JOB SEARCH / MAY. 12, 2014
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How to Use Your Former Job as a Resource

A former job is generally 'former' for a reason. Some of us will leave on good terms, while others wouldn't dare to show up at their previous job again. Whatever the circumstance, if you're unemployed you're bound to be looking for a new job.

For those who left on sour terms, you may not think that your former job could be a resource. For the other individuals who left on good terms, you may not even be aware of how your former job could be a resource. Let's explore both scenarios.

If You Left on Good Terms

This scenario tends to be a little bit more comfortable; especially while discussing details within an interview for your new job. There are many reasons why one would be leaving their place of employment; wages were too low, the commute was too far, the hours were affecting home life, changes in family dynamic, and much more. If you left your former job with a smile, here's some ways that your former job can help you on your journey to a new one.

  1. Approach Your Former Boss: If you are looking to stay in the same field, why not ask your boss if they know another employer who would be a better fit for your current situation? For example, if you were traveling too far to work, perhaps your former boss knows someone who is closer to your home. If they do not know anyone, then ask them to write you a reference letter. If you were working in marketing for ten years, why not ask your former boss to write about your accomplishments? A reference letter is a great addition to your application.
  2. Ask Ex Coworkers: There is no doubt that you built a couple professional relationships at work, perhaps even friendships. It is important to keep these contacts within your social network. They may know someone who would love to have you as an employee. If they are able to recommend you to someone, that is half the battle already. Getting the interview can be the tricky part. If they can eliminate this step, you can focus on the interview process itself.
  3. Use What You Learnt: Perhaps your former job was beneficial in terms of what you learnt. Take key information that may help you find your next job. For instance, maybe you took a course through your last job that furthered your graphic design skills. Use these skills to your advantage. If you and your boss are still actively chatting, why not get them to write a letter regarding the course you completed. They may even be willing to write how your skills benefited the company, before and after the course. It really depends how close you are to your former boss.

If You Left on Bad Terms

It is very possible that you left your last job on negative terms; swearing that you would never show your face again. As unfortunate as this is, it happens. Just because you left your former job under bad terms, does not mean that you cannot utilize areas of the job to get your next position. Here are some areas of your former job that may have a positive impact within your new job search. 

  1. Positive relationships: Every situation is different. If you feel as though your former boss misinterprets who you are and what you have to offer, approach someone who understands your skill set. Sometimes personal issues interfere with professional abilities. If you know that you were an important asset to your former job, have someone within your network vouch for you. There is nothing to lose. If you have a manager who you got along with, have them write you a reference letter. It is important to show your next employer that you were an asset to your former team.
  2. Positive achievements: Within your interview process, there is a good chance that your last job will be brought up. Don't bash your last place of employment; this is unprofessional. Take advantage of all the things you learnt and achieved there. Without getting into too much personal information, you can explain why it may not have been a great fit for you anymore. You don't want to look like you hop from job-to-job. Perhaps there were issues with your commute; or you truly feel as though your skills were not being used to the best of your ability. Maybe your former job did not challenge you, and you like work that will really exercise your abilities. Focus on the positive aspects of your former job. You can mention; courses you completed, training, experience, achievements, etc. It's important to highlight the positive aspects of your former job, not the drama.
  3. Learn from your mistakes: Perhaps you know things now, that you didn't know in the past. For example, you realized sales is not for you. In that case, you know that you may need to consider a new direction. This may force you to think about what it is that you truly want to do. If you begin focusing on a positive direction, you may find yourself within your dream career. Sometimes it takes a couple hiccups, to get to where you need to be.
  4. Strategies learnt: Maybe your former job was a high pressure situation. If you left on bad terms, don't focus on the negative. Think about what strategies you learnt, and how to apply them to your next position. If you were in high pressure situations, perhaps you will nail your interview. There are certain skills that develop with experience. Your confidence and control may have evolved at your former job. It is great to apply those skills to your new job search.

As mentioned, every situation with vary from the last. Don't be afraid to use what you learnt at your former job to tackle your job search. Focus on the positive aspects and relationships; not the negative. Make a list of all the positive aspects; who you know, what you learnt, what you achieved, etc. Organise your thoughts, and you'll be well prepared for your next job interview. 


Photo credit: pixabay 

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