Normally, job seekers need not indicate reasons for leaving a previous job on a resume. In fact, doing so can waste valuable space or even hurt an applicant's chances of getting a job if he isn't tactful in his statement. However, in some cases stating reasons for leaving can benefit an applicant. Use common sense when deciding whether to include a reason for leaving. If the reason seems obvious (i.e., a career advancement), it's not necessary; but if your resume has a gap in employment after you left that position, consider stating the reason.
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Change of Field
As Joyce Lain Kennedy says in her book "Resumes for Dummies," an applicant might indicate reasons for leaving if she has decided to switch to a new field. She may have held an accounting position, then took time off to go back to school for engineering. In this case, she might simply say, "Left to pursue education in the field of engineering," or "Left to pursue a degree that combines my passion for engineering with my mathematical skills."
Some candidates prefer not to tell prospective employers about their health histories, and for good reason. Though the employers may be required to give everyone equal treatment, it's hard to predict how health information may affect their decisions. However, if you have a lengthy employment gap on your resume due to illness, you might state the reason to show prospective employers that you would have been working if not for the illness. You don't need to get specific about the type of illness or other information, though if you've made a full recovery you could state that in the same sentence: "Left due to illness, from which I have since made a full recovery."
Some new parents, particularly women, leave their careers for a time in order to raise their children. As Joyce Lain Kennedy says, this can make re-entering the field intimidating, especially when you're anticipating that others may stereotype you. Explaining the reason for leaving a last job on the resume may help, showing employers you were actually quite busy during that supposed gap in the resume. Depending on the type of position you're applying for, Kennedy suggests listing "Caregiver" as a job, too, mentioning the specific skills you used while caring for a family, such as "Created the family budget; planned a cross-country move; handled scheduling for five busy family members."
If your resume shows you abruptly left a longtime position, followed by a gap in employment, you may want to indicate your reason for leaving, if stating that reason would make you look better. For instance, if your firm merged with another and the new firm replaced you with one of its own employees, you could state that, says Jeffrey G. Allen in the book "The Resume Makeover." Downsizing and job elimination would also be legitimate reasons, he adds.
Keep this section of your resume neutral, not expressing strong negative emotion or your thankfulness for getting out of a job you couldn't stand. Even if you legitimately had a bad experience at a previous position and feel you handled it well, don't mention it on the resume, suggests the Employment Spot website. Otherwise, you might come across as a person who complains or seeks trouble, which defeats the purpose of the explanation.
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