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Ask Amy | The One About The Confusing Job

Every Wednesday I give advice to an anonymous reader about a sticky professional situation they're currently in.

Do you need advice from Amy? Submit using the button below!

This week our reader is worried about how to explain her previous job, and not having references.

"I am having a hard time explaining or really not explaining my last job. I know I did so much there and excelled during my time there because I crushed my 30/60/90 and did more than I was asked of. However, I was laid off. My boss said it was no longer a fit.

It was because I very nicely in a meeting with my coach was honest and professionally and nicely called him out on a behavior weeks prior. Every 1:1 he would say, clocks ticking you have 90 days to basically prove why you should be here. Meanwhile, I hit every goal there was and then some. My boss was the most toxic human being I’ve ever encountered. He belittled me, gaslit me, manipulated me and everyone around him, tried micromanaging every situation, and tried to destroy my confidence every chance he got.

I’m worried that my next role they ask my for references and I can’t give my boss. And scared that he ruined my reputation. I worked so hard and have so many people that could vouch for me but no idea how to overcome that question. I almost feel like I’m lying when I talk about what I accomplished in that role."

With so many layoffs, I'm pretty sure our reader is NOT alone in this situation! In fact I was in a similar spot about a year and a half ago.

Let's back this up to the beginning where it all started. First thing I would do is read the job description from the job you applied to before you ever worked there. This should help you with resume bullet points and explaining what you did clearly. I'd also pull out a pen and paper to write notes and ideas on.

Get the numbers! On the resume we want to see metrics. How much did you produce, or save, etc. For example I know I took the last company I was with from $1MM per year to $1.5MM per year in revenue. I don't know your job title so the metrics you're citing will be different depending on what you did.

As for the layoff, while it sounds like you were actually let go rather than laid off, they labeled it as a layoff and I would leave it at that. Same thing happened to me, clashing of characters leads to layoff in this company? GOOD. You don't have to explain anything about that at all, you were laid off, the end.

Now for the references. Ok you won't have a reference from this toxic boss. That's it, move on. You could ask your old colleagues to be a reference, including ones from previous jobs before this. There is no rule that your references have to be from your last job. I'm sure when you think of all the places you worked before you can come up with three references!

Hopefully this helps, if anyone has additional advice for this reader please drop it in the comments!

Do you need advice from Amy? Submit using the button below!

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