Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Question:

I have worked in procurement within the health care sector for about 25 years, 12 of those in management. I have had a steady employment record never having been unemployed until recently.

Over the last two years my provincial government has enacted more stringent guidelines regarding procurement practices for health care organizations including restrictions on using public funding to hire consultants. The new procurement directives did not have a significant impact on the way I practised my job, until a new chief executive officer was hired at my facility.

Story continues below advertisement

This new CEO insisted on breaking these guidelines regularly and insisted on my finding ways to work around them. I spent many months politely outlining (and documenting) these violations to the CEO but the final straw came when a (very costly) consultant was hired for the organization without going through the legal tendering process.

Since I have no professional designation, I do not have a professional body I am bound to report such instances to, but I did report these violations to the CFO as well as the executive director of human resources. Both senior team members agreed with my perspective but refused to act on it, saying that the CEO would ultimately be held accountable if this became an issue in the future and that they would not support or address this issue on my behalf.

Feeling that I could be implicated in performing an illegal act within the responsibilities of my portfolio and was being asked to do additional inappropriate activities, I quit my position citing those very specific reasons in my resignation letter. I have been unemployed for about six months.

How do I answer the following in an interview:

1) Why did I leave my position?

2) Why do I not have a recommendation from my previous supervisors (CEO and CFO)?

3) If I disclose truthfully my reasons for leaving, why did I (or did not) report these activities to the authorities?

Story continues below advertisement

The Answer:

While your situation is a delicate one, it's not unusual. Many people have left roles that force them to compromise their values, ethics and standards. And the matter gets especially tricky if you are being asked to perform your work under less than acceptable practices.

Putting all the detail aside, how do you account for leaving your last job? Use honest discretion. Prospective employers never want to hear a candidate talk badly about a previous employer, so you always start off with the positive experience you had, but leaving very little room for doubts or questions. Believe it or not, interviewers want to talk more about the job they are hiring for, rather than the job candidates have left – unless you give them a reason to probe.

Something along the lines of "I had a great 25 years with the department, where I was able to grow my skills into a management role and take a on a variety of significant projects. There did come a change in leadership which brought a change in my work duties and with that, I felt it was time for me to move on to a new role so I left to focus full time on finding a new opportunity that best suites my career goals."

That being said, you don't even need to mention the change in leadership if you don't want to. Simply saying that after 25 years you wanted a change in role and decided to leave and consider other employment options would also suffice.

For recommendations (I assume you mean a letter), this is really not necessary as employers are going to want to talk directly with a reference rather than rely on a letter of recommendation. For references you don't need to use your last supervisor, just a supervisor would be acceptable as well as perhaps a co-worker and direct report. I noted that you cited your reasons for leaving in your resignation letter. Although I appreciate your honesty, you need to be careful how these letters are worded so, in fact, you can obtain a reference from your previous employer. Sometimes we need to compromise what we really want to say in order to leave on a high note in the eyes of the employer. In other words, be very careful and strategic about "picking the hill you want to die on."

Story continues below advertisement

In an interview, you need to focus on moving forward and the job you are being interviewed for – not the role you came from and reasons for leaving. I get you were put an a very uncomfortable position, but you left as a result to find employment that addresses your values and appreciates your integrity, so stay with that mindset. You had a long career with that employer and matters changed, as they often do in organizations.

Finally, fit is not about obedience. Fit is about who you are and if you will get along and work well within a team and with the style of your supervisor. As an outplacement consultant, I have met many excellent, talented people who have been let go because of fit. The employee usually knows the fit is not there as well, but later moves on to different company that they thrive in because the fit is better. Their personality and working style is simply a better match for both them and the employer.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for Cam McRae Consulting in Calgary. Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com. Your name and address will be kept confidential.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies