I taught at an exclusive private school on the West Coast. I was terminated
after a combination of in-school politics and personalities collided. My boss
– the terminator — emphasized that my competence was not an issue. (I
had been advised not to resign by my immediate supervisor — the headmaster –
who had also been forced out.)
How do I respond to the application (for another teaching job back here) question
that asks about one’s being “requested to resign” or being terminated? This
happened several years ago.
The Career Doctor responds:
To me the bigger question is what have you been doing since your termination? Have you still been in education? I think employers would be
more interested in this multi-year gap than the specific causes of how you
left your last job.
I personally think you got bad advice from the headmaster. When given the
choice I think it’s better to resign (and often get some sort of compensation
package for doing so) than to be terminated. When you resign you have
more control over the situation. And in job applications and interviews you
can always say you resigned to seek new growth opportunities.
The one thing you do NOT want to do on an application or in an interview is
go down the murky road of why you were terminated — especially as you
make the case it was not for competency but for politics. Sometimes I think
employers are more worried about prospective employees who will not fit in –
who will cause “trouble” — more than they are about the competency issue…
so stay as far away from personality conflicts and office politics as possible.
The past is the past and you can’t change it now — or lie about it. So your goal
is to downplay the termination as much as possible and focus on the positives –
on your skills and accomplishments as an educator. You’re also going to need to
explain what you have been doing for the past three years — hoping something
that can enhance your application such as additional education or training.
Read more in this article published on Quintessential Careers:
An Opportunity for Change and Growth.