RockIt Careers

Save the Sad Story for Your Bartender

Everyone gets a little down in the mouth now and then when they are between jobs. Some of us even have had a bitter taste in our mouths with our last employer. Others are struggling with issues with family or friends. It’s easy to be negative, but as much as you’d like to vent, no one wants to hear about it, especially the person interviewing you for a job.

There were times when I interviewed candidates or networked with people, when I would find myself becoming that person’s counselor. I’ve had people bad-mouth their manager or co-workers. Others would complain about how no one is interviewing them. I’ve even had a couple of people cry on me.

It may be cathartic to get some of those emotions boiling up inside you out, think about the person on the receiving end. It’s not cathartic, it’s uncomfortable. Your doing yourself no favors. So, today we thought we’d talk about why this is hurting you and what you can do instead.

Why Does This Hurt My Chances?

We’re told that honesty is the best policy, so why is it bad if we’re being honest? Well, there’s a number of reasons besides the fact that the person you’re unloading on is getting uncomfortable.

1. It paints you as a negative person.

Ask any manager who they would rather hire: (a) a negative person who is excellent at their job or (b) a positive person who is good at their job. Nine out of ten will say they’d rather have the positive person. So long as they aren’t completely incompetent, a positive person adds more to a team than a negative person. Negative employees hurt morale, cause unnecessary conflict, harm customer service, and become an all-around pain. Whereas a positive person brings everyone together, improves the office vibe, and customers love him or her.

Giving the interviewer the impression that you’re negative is going to kill your chances of going any further.

2. It makes you sound unprofessional.

Whenever I hear someone talking smack about their previous employer or getting overly emotional about something else during an interview, in the back of my mind, I’m wondering, “Will this person say the same thing about my company when they leave?” or “Is this the type of person I’d want representing my company’s brand?” or “Is this what they’re going to be like with my customers or team?”

Ouch! That’s not the message you want to convey. Employers want to hire someone who’s going to be a net benefit, not a distraction or detraction.

3. It makes us question your judgment.

There are times and places to vent, and an interview or networking meeting/event is not one of them. As you start in on your story, we are left to wonder, if you have such poor judgment when the stakes are high for you, what will you do when the stakes are lower and you have the job? Are you going to blab confidential information to someone? Are you going to be the company gossip? Are you going to be a drama queen at work?

As you can see, none of this is helping you in any way. Save these stories for your bartender or someone else who either won’t judge you or can’t do anything harmful to you if they do.

What to Do Instead

A lot of your efforts should focus on re-framing how you look at your situation. You have to recognize that there’s always a silver lining, even in this gray cloud.

1. Change how you think about your last employer.

Maybe you got fired, maybe you got laid off suddenly, or maybe you couldn’t stand your old boss or co-workers. Whatever it is, just realize that this last job and employer got you one step closer to a better job.

For instance, I got laid off after 9 months into the first job I had after I graduated college. They were closing the market in the city and obviously didn’t need a Recruiter any longer. Now, I didn’t love my job, by any means. My boss was awful, the job was stressful, and I was miserable.

I know, I’m giving you this advice on being positive and here I am, being negative, but stay with me.

As bad as it may have been, however, I was shocked and a little panicked. The first time I was looking for work, I had zero interviews for almost 3 months. This was the only company that interviewed me. Was I going to have the same problem?

I can’t say I got my next job instantly, but the wait was about a month less and with a much better company and salary. This was all because I got the experience I needed. While it didn’t end well at my first job, this company did take a chance on me, in spite of being green and fresh from college. I appreciated that.

2.  Focus on what you learned.

Rather than talking about all the bad things you’ve gone through in life, focus your conversation on how you prevailed and what you learned. During your time with your last employer, what skills did you acquire?  Have you taken any educational opportunities while in transition? What did you learn about yourself when you went through the bad situation? How have you become a better person?

There’s always something positive that you can take away from any scenario. You just have to be looking for it.

3. Put the past behind you and move on.

We all like to cling to our past. For some of us, our past can feel like the Lionel’s comfort blank, but for others it can be an anchor keeping us down. Neither are particularly beneficial to you in the here and now.

Remember, we’ve all become the people we are today because of decisions and actions we’ve made in the past. But who we will become is still up to us. Each day we have the opportunity to change. So, holding on to the past, is only keeping us from making the change we want to make.

Learn from the past, don’t live in it.

About RockIt Career Consultation Services

At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.

We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.

We’d love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!