Questions After Resigning From a Job

by K. Danielle Edwards

When someone resigns from a job, he does so voluntarily. This is quite different from being downsized or fired, when an employee might be let go for performance problems or because of a change in the company's finances. For workers of all types, resigning from a job can be empowering because they can pursue new challenges or put an end to years of feeling professionally unfulfilled. Resigning can also be bittersweet because you're leaving your comfort zone or the familiarity of trusted colleagues. A significant degree of thought usually goes into the decision to resign. Once employees give their notice and move on, they can expect to face a variety of questions -- from themselves as well as prospective employers.

What Do I Want to Do?

For some people, resigning from a job is like starting over with a clean slate, especially if they haven't yet found a new position. Though career experts advise against it, some employees do turn in their notices and vacate their jobs before they've found a new one. This period between jobs -- without the distractions of a rush-hour commute, project deadlines and multiple meetings -- can be a time for reflection and planning. This is a good time to ask yourself what you want to achieve professionally, and how you can go about achieving it. For example, you might find that you need additional training to pursue a particular career, or that you need to network with your professional contacts to find openings in a particular area.

When Do I Start Looking?

Finding the next big thing can be a matter of the right timing.

Former employees need to decide when to begin testing the waters again. Being out of the job market for a significant period of time comes with its own share of risks. The longer you are without work, the more of an uphill climb you'll have landing a new job. Employers tend to take a negative view of large gaps in someone's work history unless there is a reasonable explanation such as taking time off to raise kids. Those who have resigned from their jobs without a new one lined up need to be prepared to spring into action sooner rather than later. Even if you don't want to immediately transition to a new full-time position, you should consider internships, freelance opportunities or part-time work to keep your skills fresh, gain new experience and avoid gaps in your resume.

Why Did You Leave?

Employers will want to know why you left.

When you are called in for a job interview, expect to be asked why you left your previous employer. Career experts advise a transparent, honest, succinct and positive response. This means being truthful, especially if you left due to reasons beyond your control, such as a staff reduction or relocation for a spouse's career opportunity. Even if the circumstances were less than favorable, such as issues with your former boss, be positive and professional in your response. Let the interviewer know you decided to seek new career challenges, or move into a different industry, and you felt that resigning was the best way to make a clean break and launch a fresh start.

What Are You Looking For?

Another question you can expect in a job interview after you have resigned is what you seek from your new job or career. This is especially true if you've decided to switch to an entirely new field. As you frame an answer, take stock of what you've learned from your period of reflection. Think about what you want to do, and how this aligns with the job you're interviewing for. For example, if you seek a position in sales after previously serving in an administrative role, you might respond that you're looking for an opportunity to have a bigger impact on a company's business growth.

About the Author

K. Danielle Edwards is an experienced media, public relations, marketing, journalism and communications professional whose portfolio spans daily newspapers, monthly publications, government, national corporations and other companies. Edwards has also won awards for her contributions to communications and social media.

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