The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 27, 2013

Career Coach Q&A: Changing jobs; challenging a workplace decision

By Joyce E. A. Russell
Special to The Washington Post

— Q: I graduated college in May and was able to secure a job right after graduation. However, after six months it is clear that this career/industry are not for me. I always hear that you should stay at a job at least a year, but at this point I don't see that happening and have already begun applying for new jobs. What's the best way to approach this question when it inevitably comes up in interviews in the future?

A: It is not critical that you stay in a job for one year exactly. What is important is that you can explain why you left so soon. In today's climate, it is less of an issue to move to various firms, as long as those moves are advancements or can show progress of some sort.

You said the career is not for you, so I am assuming you are trying something new. As long as you can give a reason for why you are trying a new area and perhaps can show how it is somewhat related to the previous area, this will help. Maybe it is more related than you think. Ask someone to review your r


um to see how you are positioning yourself in the market.

Q: I live in a right to work state. Employers can hire and dismiss at will and can do anything they want to employees while they are employed. It's very difficult and expensive to challenge a hostile work environment through the legal system. My question is, "How does one handle a demotion with a title change on their resume when this happens to them even though they are still doing the same type of work?"

A: If you are still doing the same work but your job title has changed, how much has the title changed? It may be more noticeable to you than to outsiders. It really depends on what the title is. Of course, you can always explain it in terms of a restructuring if you have had a new boss come in who has changed things around (assuming this is the case). You have not given the reason for why the title was changed, although it sounds like you feel it was due to inappropriate actions on management's part. But, was it due to new restructuring or a new focus in the firm? If so, use these reasons if you need to explain this to outsiders.

Russell is the vice dean and the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management.