I quit my previous job approximately 5-6 months ago due to toxic culture and being pressured to commit fraud. I fear hiring managers see that I’ve been out of work for this time and may assume I was fired or laid off. Additionally I’ve had a couple interviews where company “X” interviewers have commented on this and in an effort to not bad mouth my previous employer I’m stuck with a generic answer like I want to take my career to the next level with Company “X.” I’m stuck. Thoughts/strategies?

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I agree it’s not a good idea to bad mouth your former employer. I think you can say that it wasn’t a good fit or that you took some personal time for XYZ.

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You needed to take care of some personal matters that required more time than you could do while employed. Those things have been taken care of and you are excited to get back to work.

No one should pry any further than that and if you have solid references they really aren’t going to dig.

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I resigned due to misalignment in role and responsibilities.

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Hi there! There’s a difference between bad mouthing and stating fact of your previous situation. I would recommend being honest and upfront about it in a very professional way. Simply state what you mentioned here but with a more positive spin. “I’m looking for a culture that is more ____ and my last company was not able to offer that.” “I’m looking for a company that aligns more with my values of honesty and integrity.” Honestly even if you said exactly what you stated here in your message, as a Recruiter I wouldn’t consider that bad mouthing your company.

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I would agree with this to a certain extent. Definitely read the room while interviewing. If you feel comfortable enough with the hiring managers to be honest (in a professional way) you should do so. But sometimes hiring managers are hard to read in an interview, and in that case I would go with what someone else said in another comment - I am thankful for the opportunity that (previous company) gave me. I was able to learn (insert skills) but the culture was not a fit for me long term and it wouldn’t be fair to them or me if I continued to say.

Then talk about how the culture at their firm would be a great fit.

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For what it’s worth: I’m a Project Manager in General Contracting (Commercial Construction Management)

I resigned due to misalignment in role and responsibilities.

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