How to explain change

Q: I’m having trouble explaining why I left my last job. For three years, I worked in a residential treatment facility for youthful offenders. Everything was fine until I was assigned to the third shift, which lasts from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Adjusting to this schedule was extremely difficult. Because I could not sleep well during the day, I was always tired at work. I began falling asleep in the middle of my shift, which was obviously unacceptable. Since I was never able to break this pattern, they eventually let me go. Now, when I apply for a job, I’m not sure how to answer the “reason for leaving” question. If I put “terminated” on the application, I never get an interview. If I tell an interviewer I was fired, I never get called back. I want to be honest, but I also want to be hired. How should I handle this?

A: Since you should never lie during a job search, you need to be truthful without being self-destructive. When applications request “reason for leaving,” give an ambiguous answer such as “shift difficulties.” This is a true statement which can later be explained.

Focus on the physiological challenges of third-shift work. For example: “Although some people have no problem working at night, I could never seem to reverse my sleep patterns. Since I didn’t get enough sleep during the day, I kept dozing off during my shift. I was never able to adjust, so unfortunately I had to leave.”

— By Marie G. McIntyre

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Fearful at work

Q: Some things are at flux at work, and I’m nervous. We’ve lost some business, and there have been changes at other clients that could affect their corporate direction and thus their need for our services. What should I be doing to look out for myself? I’m not interested in a major career change.

A: Think carefully about what you want, and your company’s ability to provide it. Recognize that you’re nervous, but stay away from panic mode. That could cause you to miss the opportunities in the situation and make some hasty decisions that won’t serve you well. To manage the fear, reflect on what you’re afraid of. Is it change? Financial vulnerability? Consider how realistic your fears are in light of the changes you’re seeing.

— By Liz Reyer

Minneapolis Star Tribune


Changing mind on deal

Q: I was recently on vacation and loved the small town where we were staying. My wife and I put down a deposit to buy a property on the outskirts of town. We figured we could rent it out when we’re not using it. Now that we’ve been home for a couple of weeks, I am thinking that we may have made a mistake. What can we do?

A: You will need to review your contract to see if you have the ability to cancel the deal without losing your deposit. Laws are different in every state. You may want to consult a lawyer. If there is no way out without losing your deposit, you will want to take a cold, hard look at the property and the area and see if the deal still makes sense.

Real estate should not be an impulse buy. Visit an area several times, in different seasons, before thinking about investing. A happening tourist spot in July may be a ghost town nine months out of the year. If you do want to move forward, find a reputable agent to manage the property in your absence and factor in that cost. Also, you may find that when you do visit your property, you spend half of your vacation working on the house and replacing worn-out furniture. To avoid that, and to handle any unexpected repairs, you will need to hire a local handyman. You should also check the local laws, and homeowners association rules, to make sure that you can rent the property.

After looking at all the factors and the costs involved with owning the property, it may work out that the best deal is to lose the deposit and move on with the lesson learned.

— By Gary M. Singer

Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel