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Submitted by wlindley on


I've been in an office leadership role (technically a director-level position, but the office is so small that I'm managing ICs, not managers) at a medium-sized, multinational software company for the last 9 months or so. In the past 2 months, I've been repeatedly instructed by people in my reporting chain to break the law by acquiring and using pirated software. That seems to me like a good enough reason to start looking for a new job. My question, though, is about interviewing at new companies. When they ask why I'm looking to leave my current position, is it alright to mention the illegal requests or is that bad form and airing dirty laundry? Would it be better to come up with a different explanation? Or just generally say that I'm leaving because I believe they're unprofessional and unethical, but not give any more information if pressed? Suggestions and advice are greatly appreciated.

TNoxtort's picture

Since you are currently employed, you have a lot of options for why you are wanting to leave. I'd recommend not being negative - instead, focus on positive reasons, like more responsibilities, greater breadth, bigger company, etc, etc.If you were no longer employed, that would be a different story, but since you are employed, there are lots of positive reasons, good reasons, for why you can say you are looking.

wlindley's picture
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That's a fair point. I don't want to lie to new companies and the illegal and unethical behavior really is the main reason I'm leaving. I could also say that I'm looking to transition industries (from one part of software to another). That's true and is more positive, so maybe that's the way to go.

katehorstman's picture
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I agree with the previous poster and would caution that the key here is to say nothing derogatory about your current company. We touch on this in our casts about resignation actually. I’ve put the link to Handling Exit Interviews below. While not exactly the same situation, the principles still apply. The rule is don’t say anything in any way that could ever be construed as negative. Even if it’s completely true, it can come back to haunt you in so many ways. The position you're currently in is still in jeopardy if you choose to disclose things unprofessionally about your organization. Imagine if that data gets back to your boss, how that might go.  Even if the things you’re struggling with are public, speaking negatively about the organization can be seen as unprofessional. You do not have to say nice things. Lying isn’t the way to go. Simply respond with the positive reasons for leaving as the previous poster suggested. There are reasons you are choosing these other organizations, regardless of what issues you’re having in your current role. Focus on those items and steer clear of making negative comments that could cause issues later. Discretion is the better part of valor. :)