Home Interview How Do I Explain Quitting A Job In A Family Business In My Interview?
How Do I Explain Quitting A Job In A Family Business In My Interview?

How Do I Explain Quitting A Job In A Family Business In My Interview?

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Dear J.T. & Dale: At my brother’s request, I moved back home to be a project manager with his company. It seemed like a good move, but after a few years he started to change drastically. I, as well as others, noticed that he was becoming unreasonable. Although the company was doing quite well, the working atmosphere grew worse, until I decided to quit. I found another job, but it’s in sales, with low pay. So I am now going back into the job market to look for a project manager position. When I interview, how do I explain quitting a job in my brother’s company? If they check with him, I expect him to be bitter. We no longer speak, except at Christmas. – Ray

J.T.: When asked why you left, take the high road, and stay objective: “I chose to leave upon realizing I wanted to broaden my experience beyond working for a family-run business. It was entirely my decision. I have since found work, but hope to find something that will challenge me a bit more.” Let your track record of success in the industry be the compelling part of your story, not the drama with your brother.

DALE: Yes, but there still may be the problem of a new employer calling your brother as part of reference checking. If your brother goes negative, it doubles the impact – after all, a new employer would expect relatives to be particularly generous in their praise. So, once you near the reference checking phase of the employment process, you’ll need to mention that your brother was offended by your departure; doing so, you inoculate against the bitter remarks they might hear.

Better yet, and much more importantly, this is a chance to heal that familial wound. Go to your brother and ask for his help with the reference. I know, I know: It’s going to be difficult to swallow your pride and ask, especially when you feel you did nothing wrong. But which do you want to be: the bigger person or the smaller person? This is your chance to rise above, improving your family and your job.

Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at [email protected] or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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J.T. & Dale

“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.