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Around a year ago, I joined the company as a software engineer.

At the time, the company had software as a pretty core part of its business, but since then, the company has been having problem turning out profits, and around a month ago, the software development team has been cut in half and most of our ongoing projects had got scrapped. The company also somewhat moved its business direction to a direction where I feel like more of an IT staff supporting the operation, rather than being part of the core business. I survived the lay off, but I had to take a pay cut, and I can only see us being eventually laid off as well, or simply kept for maintaining the existing system.

For the reasons above, I have started looking for a new job. But I want to be prepared for the usual interview questions, one of which is the reason for leaving my current job.

How should I answer such questions? Especially in regards to my relatively short employment? My biggest concern is really to be perceived as a job hopper with no patience/loyalty.

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Never speak of a current or former employer in a negative way. Even if the negativity is warranted, it never translates that well across the table to your new employer (even if it's the truth). As always, when you leave a company that has negatives it is all about how you frame it.

It is worth pointing out that disclosing a company you work for is not doing well financially or X other reason might be considered private information which could be used by a competitor against the company. In that kind of situation, it is best to give a generic reason or say nothing at all to protect yourself.

Some generic reasons for leaving are;

  • I am looking for new career opportunities
  • The company that I currently work for is restructuring (a great way of sugar coating a company going under or under financial hardship)
  • The company that I work for is heading in a new direction that does not align with my career goals
  • I am looking for a job position with more stability than my current position
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    Thank you. I like the "The company that I work for is heading in a new direction that does not align with my career goals". I think i'll be going with this "pivot" angle. It explains the situation truthfully and sufficiently without divulging too much information regarding the company. – throwaway Jul 13 '17 at 6:47
  • I like the combination of the company is heading in a new direction and as such is restructuring. Both are true; they're restructuring because the new direction is, "circling the drain." – Nolo Problemo Jul 13 '17 at 21:20
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I want to be prepared for the usual interview questions, one of which is the reason for leaving my current job.

How should I answer such questions?

Your story is one that is not at all unusual, so just be honest. What you tell them will be familiar to your interviewers, and many of them will have experienced the same thing. (I know that I've been there and done that.)

You tell them that unfortunately your company has had financial problems including layoffs. You have been spared so far but have been moved out of the area you would prefer to work and had to take a pay cut. While you feel bad about it, you are worried about the future viability of the company and feel the need to make a move now.

It's compelling, understandable, and honest.

Especially in regards to my relatively short employment? My biggest concern is really to be perceived as a job hopper with no patience/loyalty.

While it's not ideal, it's also not your fault that the company downturn happened when you were there only one year.

Unless this has happened repeatedly in your career (in which case perhaps you aren't asking enough probing questions during your interviews), it likely won't be seen as job hopping or impatience.

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  • I like this answer but I'm drawn to the point in Dwayne's answer disclosing a company you work for is not doing well financially or X other reason might be considered private information which could be used by a competitor against the company which seems to go against your advice. What are your thoughts on that? – Darren H Jul 14 '17 at 4:02
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    @DarrenH, once his company held the layoffs, their financial difficulties were disclosed to everyone on the planet. – John R. Strohm Jul 14 '17 at 18:02
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I know this situation, I was also having almost similar issue with my employer.

If you have proper skills related to your job you will get fairly new job in short time.

The question is what to say about leaving your current employer. I choose to tell truth. If you explain them in proper way they will understand. Also give them surety about your role and responsibility about your current work in company hard situation. Telling the truth will create strong trust factor and It was very normal reaction when I have told them my situation. You are not doing wrong thing, securing future is not bad thing. I think you should go with the real thing and It will feel better also.

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    The only trust it creates is that they'll trust you to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. If the company hasn't failed yet there's no reason to tell anyone that they are - that'll be seen as airing dirty laundry no matter how well you put it. It might be more acceptable in other market conditions (I'm guessing by your name that you're greek) but I can't see that working as well in the US or the UK, for example – rath Jul 13 '17 at 10:44
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Citing financial reasons for leaving a company is always acceptable. In your case there were large layoffs and pay cuts. If probed this can be related, but simply saying: "the company was under sever financial pressure" is typically enough to get the job done.

Salary cuts are sufficient reason to leave, as it is a change in the employment agreement. Your employer and you agreed to have a business relationship based on a certain compensation received. They are changing this without notice. It is okay to leave just for that reason.

Layoffs are also a good enough reason to leave. Presumably the amount of work needs to increase not decrease (in order to increase profitability). Now there are less people to do that work.

There are exceptions to layoffs, sometimes they can be a very good thing and increase motivation. However, that does not sound like it in your case.

A great book on this subject is Who Moved my Cheese. It is time to move on, finding another location for cheese in the maze.

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Being associated with a failure is never a good look. So don't mention any sinking ships or rats. Just give a generic reason for leaving, you're looking for better opportunities or something.

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