How To Answer "What Makes You Unique?" In An Interview

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"What makes you unique?" is a question that many interviewers like to use. But due to its perceived simplicity, many applicants are woefully underprepared when they attempt to answer it! This article will teach you how to answer "What makes you unique?" in a way that highlights your abilities and improves your chance of getting the job. The Reason Interviewers Ask This Question. Like many other personality questions, "What makes you unique?" is multifaceted. How you respond to an interview question like this tells the interviewer and hiring manager a lot about who you are and what you can bring to the table. Of course, interviewers ask this question because they genuinely want to know what you think sets you apart from other potential... Read more

The PACT Act and your VA benefits

By VA.gov | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

Courage, resilience, teamwork. Those words are ingrained into the fabric of VETSports, an organization that dubs itself "The Official Home of Sports for Veterans." VETSports is focused on improving the physical, mental and emotional health of Veterans through sports, physical activity and community involvement. The non-profit group has provided thousands of former service members with opportunities to reintegrate into their communities through sports, community service, events and partnerships. All VETSports chapters are led by volunteers. The organization makes a special push to help transitioning Veterans find their footing in civilian life after being accustomed to the rigors of the military and the traumatic experiences that it can present. VETSports... Read more

Why Did You Leave Your Last Job? (Best Answers To Use)

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"Why did you leave your last job?" is one of the most straightforward interview questions you'll receive. However, that doesn't mean you should answer it without being prepared! This guide will teach you how to answer this question as well as provide some of the best example answers to help you brainstorm. Why Interviewers Ask This Question. It's a good idea to think about why interviewers ask "Why did you leave your last job?" before you practice how to answer it. Despite how it sounds, the hiring manager doesn't want to hear you badmouth a previous boss or tell them how awful your former company is. In fact, going down that path will do more harm than good! There are a few reasons you hear this common interview question.... Read more

VETSports as a tool to embolden Veterans transitioning back into civilian life

By news.VA.gov | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans — and their survivors — with the care and benefits they've earned and deserve. This page will help answer your questions about what the PACT Act means for you or your loved ones. You can also call us at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711). And you can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now. File a disability claim online Apply for VA health care. What's the PACT Act and how will it affect my VA benefits and care? The PACT Act is perhaps the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history. The full name of the law is The Sergeant... Read more

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How To Answer "What Makes You Unique?" In An Interview

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"What makes you unique?" is a question that many interviewers like to use. But due to its perceived simplicity, many applicants are woefully underprepared when they attempt to answer it!

This article will teach you how to answer "What makes you unique?" in a way that highlights your abilities and improves your chance of getting the job.

The Reason Interviewers Ask This Question

Like many other personality questions, "What makes you unique?" is multifaceted. How you respond to an interview question like this tells the interviewer and hiring manager a lot about who you are and what you can bring to the table.

Of course, interviewers ask this question because they genuinely want to know what you think sets you apart from other potential candidates.

The interviewer wants to know the qualities that make you stand out. Multiple people are likely up for the same role you're trying to get. Not only that, but many applicants have the same qualifications as you!

So, what makes you unique, and why should the company choose you above everyone else?

Your resume already paints a good picture of your capabilities. But there are many things your resume can't say. The interviewer wants to hear them!

It's your opportunity to talk about your soft skills and other capabilities that will help you do well in this role. Your response can also help key decision-makers determine if you're a good overall fit for the company culture.

But that's not all. "What makes you unique?" also helps interviewers understand what you value most about yourself. It's about figuring out your critical strengths and seeing what's important to you in the workplace.

Most people will respond with the attributes they're most proud of or actively working on, giving hiring managers valuable insight into your overall attitude.

How to Answer "What Makes You Unique"

Figuring out how to answer "What makes you unique?" isn't as easy as it sounds. That's the point! Personality-based questions often catch job applicants off guard, letting interviewers see how you handle pressure and adjust to the unknown.

There's no universally correct answer. However, the key to success is to mold your answer around the job and shine yourself in the best light possible.

Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Go Over Your Work History and Accomplishments

The best approach when answering "What makes you unique?" is to start by looking over your work history. Think about your accomplishments in previous jobs and what led you to this point. A bit of self-reflection goes a long way in questions like this.

Focus on the traits and strengths that helped you succeed. The best way to leave an impact is to discuss why you reached the level of success and what skills you used to get there.

For example, say that you won an award for making the most sales or retaining the most extensive client base at your previous job. Instead of only talking about that, mention how specific situations made a difference. Maybe you restored lost accounts by quickly addressing an unhappy client's concerns and regained their trust. And by all means, include numbers or percentages — sales quota, value of clients saved or business acquired.

Details matter. Try to point to actual events in your work history to illustrate the skills and attributes you want to highlight. It's one thing to say that you're good at something, but it's another to show why.

Always provide examples when possible, and don't be afraid to dig deep into your work history. Your past is the best source of inspiration for a question like this. So, self-assess and tell a story that shows the interviewer why you are a must-hire. Remember the STAR interview technique.

Research the Company

Before you even head into your interview, researching the company is paramount. If there's one piece of advice you should follow, it's to come into the interview prepared. You need to know as much as you can about the organization and the position as possible.

Your research will provide valuable information to answer questions like this and more. Plus, it makes you look prepared, well-informed, and genuinely interested in getting the job.

Understanding the company's culture and overall mission can guide you in the right direction. Figure out what the company needs and explain what makes you unique in ways that can help them. For example, the organization could be looking to expand into new markets or find a new approach to generate more sales.

Whatever the case, think about how you can contribute to the bottom line. Connect the dots and determine why you would be a valuable asset to them. Talk about it and always stress the positive traits or needed skills that can make a difference in the organization.

Think About What the Interviewer is Looking For

Another goal of your research here is to determine what the employer finds valuable. Examine the job description closely and determine the skills and abilities the hiring manager wants to see. Do a little digging and check out what existing employees can do. If possible, send one of them an email for some better insight.

A good approach is to connect your answer with the information you find. For example, maybe the job requires innovation and a fresh perspective. In that case, you can talk about your unique ability to think out of the box and provide creative solutions to workplace challenges.

It's not about lying or bending the truth. Your goal is to find the job's most critical attributes and show that you have them!

Connect Your Answers to the Role

As you would expect, your answer to "What makes you unique?" should always connect back to the job at hand. With a question like this, it's easy to get off-topic and veer into broader discussions. Resist that urge and stay focused on your ultimate goal: Landing the job.

You're free to dig deep into your past and even talk about your grander goals. However, always find ways to tie your unique traits back to the job. Review your strengths, look at the job description, and use your words to establish that connection.

Once you successfully tie everything in, it's not difficult for the interviewer to see why you would be a good fit for the job. Use the role as inspiration while self-reflecting and finding ways to tie everything neatly into one response.

Rehearse

Our last tip is an important one: Rehearse! Practice makes perfect, and you'll want to rehearse your answer to "What makes you unique?" a few times before the interview.

It's not necessarily a good idea to write and memorize a script verbatim. Doing that would make you sound robotic and inauthentic. You still want a bit of openness and adaptability.

However, having a response prepared can make all the difference. Try to focus on the key points you want to bring up and find ways to talk about them comfortably. The more you practice, the easier it'll be to discuss your strengths.

It becomes less daunting, and that confidence will come off well during your interview.

What to Avoid Saying

Now that you know how to form an impressive answer and explain what makes you unique, let's talk about what you shouldn't say. There's no universally correct answer, and everyone's response will differ. However, that doesn't mean you can't say something that'll turn the interviewer off and hurt your chances of getting hired.

Here are a few red flags you want to avoid when answering this question.

Generic and Vague Answers

Your first instinct might be to provide a rather generic answer. For example, you might see that the job description says it requires research. So, your response is, " What makes me unique is that I'm good at research."

Sounds simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, short and boring answers like that aren't doing the question justice. It doesn't tell the interviewer anything they want to know. You can include your research abilities in your resume, so it's a redundant answer as well.

A generic answer does nothing to show why you're a top-notch candidate. You need to go into detail and illustrate why you should get the job over others.

Rambling Answers

Short answers aren't great, but neither are super long ones! Believe it or not, this common mistake often happens without the applicant realizing it.

As we mentioned earlier, questions like this can throw people off. It seems simple, but many are unprepared when it comes.

So what do they do?

They start speaking with no clear message in mind. That often results in people talking in circles until they land on something that resembles a decent-sounding answer. It's the equivalent of throwing everything you can at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Of course, the interviewer isn't impressed by those answers. It's obvious when someone is unprepared and begins speaking to fill space.

Overly Personal or Irrelevant Details

Despite how it sounds, when an interviewer asks what makes you unique, they aren't interested in learning oddball trivia about you or your past. No matter how cool some of those facts might sound, they're irrelevant to the situation.

Remember: This is a job interview. There's no reason to talk about quirky experiences or topics that have nothing to do with work or your job history.

Avoid those superfluous details and stick to the end goal. Provide clear and concise answers. You want to sound put-together and prepared, so leave the weird responses out.

Lies & Falsehoods

Always stick to the facts.

It's tempting to stretch the truth a bit. When caught off guard and wanting to look your best, you might exaggerate a little or say flat-out lies.

Make no mistake: The truth will come out at some point (that's why it made our list of crucial interview do's and don'ts). Hiring managers will speak to references, and those tall tales can be discussed.

Lying will hurt your chances of getting the job. No one wants to hire someone who lies during an interview. If you lie in the job interview, what's stopping you from lying later?

Be honest and take time to come up with genuine answers. Bring up real-world examples and be truthful about your capabilities.

Bash Other Candidates

Finally, don't structure your answer to "What makes you unique?" in a way that talks negatively about other job hopefuls. That's not the goal of this query, and being super negative about other applicants can make you look petty and unprofessional.

Focus on yourself instead.

Best Sample Answers

Creating a response to this question requires careful thought and consideration. You have to pull from your past and reflect on your capabilities. As a result, every answer is unique.

What's right for you might not be the correct answer for someone else. While you can't copy a response from someone else, you can use good examples as inspiration.

Example 1

In our first sample answer, the applicant provides a concise response that perfectly highlights the trait they value most in themselves. The job-seeker knows that this position is ever-evolving and understands that the employer wants someone adaptable and unafraid of challenges. So, the applicant chooses to highlight their ability to learn new things.

"What makes me unique is that I'm always seeking new opportunities to learn. I'm not particularly eager to rest on my laurels and prefer pushing my capabilities whenever possible.

In my last job, we adopted a new system and software to manage customer relations. Because it was so new, most of my colleagues had difficulty adjusting. I took the time to learn the platform inside and out, eventually becoming the go-to person for questions and assistance."

Example 2

Our next example focuses on organization. Many jobs require good time management and general organizational skills. In this case, the applicant pulls from their experience as an administrative assistant to show how their capabilities directly benefited their previous employer.

"I pride myself on my natural organizational skills. As an administrative assistant, I did everything possible to keep the office chaos-free and running smoothly. I did that by reorganizing files and maintaining a well-organized supply closet.

Because supplies were easier to find, we experienced much less waste and reduced extraneous purchases. We saved about 25 percent on office supply orders in the following years."

Example 3

In this final example, the applicant is trying to illustrate their impeccable research skills. Instead of providing a generic answer, the job-seeker paints a picture of how passionate they are about doing solid research.

Not only does this answer tell a story about past work experience, but it also highlights how their mind works outside the office.

"What makes me unique is my ability to apply effective research protocols. In my previous job, I received positive feedback on my consistency and thoroughness when working on research-heavy projects.

But even outside of work, I tend to apply a research-minded approach to everything I do. I'm passionate about current events and often use a methodical approach when taking notes about current policy and government changes."

Conclusion

Now that you know how to answer "What makes you unique?" it's all about putting in the appropriate amount of practice time.

Once you think about your answer and rehearse it, you'll see this question as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.

Back

The PACT Act and your VA benefits

By VA.gov | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans — and their survivors — with the care and benefits they've earned and deserve.

This page will help answer your questions about what the PACT Act means for you or your loved ones. You can also call us at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711). And you can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now.

File a disability claim online

Apply for VA health care

What's the PACT Act and how will it affect my VA benefits and care?

The PACT Act is perhaps the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history. The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

The PACT Act will bring these changes:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
  • Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

If you're a Veteran or survivor, you can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits.

What does it mean to have a presumptive condition for toxic exposure?

To get a VA disability rating, your disability must connect to your military service. For many health conditions, you need to prove that your service caused your condition.

But for some conditions, we automatically assume (or "presume") that your service caused your condition. We call these "presumptive conditions."

We consider a condition presumptive when it's established by law or regulation.

If you have a presumptive condition, you don't need to prove that your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption.

Gulf War era and post-9/11 Veteran eligibility

What burn pit and other toxic exposure conditions are now presumptive?

We've added more than 20 burn pit and other toxic exposure presumptive conditions based on the PACT Act. This change expands benefits for Gulf War era and post-9/11 Veterans.

These cancers are now presumptive:

  • Brain cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancer of any type
  • Glioblastoma
  • Head cancer of any type
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphatic cancer of any type
  • Lymphoma of any type
  • Melanoma
  • Neck cancer of any type
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Reproductive cancer of any type
  • Respiratory (breathing-related) cancer of any type

These illnesses are now presumptive:

  • Asthma that was diagnosed after service
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis or obliterative bronchiolitis
  • Emphysema
  • Granulomatous disease
  • Interstitial lung disease (ILD)
  • Pleuritis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis
How do I know if I have a presumptive exposure to burn pits?

If you served in any of these locations and time periods, we've determined that you had exposure to burn pits or other toxins. We call this having a presumption of exposure.

On or after September 11, 2001, in any of these locations:

  • Afghanistan
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Syria
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • The airspace above any of these locations

On or after August 2, 1990, in any of these locations:

  • Bahrain
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • The airspace above any of these locations
Am I eligible for free VA health care as a post-9/11 combat Veteran?

We're extending and expanding VA health care eligibility based on the PACT Act. We encourage you to apply, no matter your separation date. Your eligibility depends on your service history and other factors.

If you meet the requirements listed here, you can get free VA health care for any condition related to your service for up to 10 years from the date of your most recent discharge or separation. You can also enroll at any time during this period and get any care you need, but you may owe a copay for some care.

At least one of these must be true of your active-duty service:

  • You served in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War, or
  • You served in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998

And this must be true for you:

  • You were discharged or released on or after October 1, 2013

We encourage you to enroll now so we can provide any care you may need now or in the future. Enrollment is free.

What if I was discharged or released before October 1, 2013?

If you meet the requirements listed here, you can receive care and enroll during a special enrollment period between October 1, 2022, and October 1, 2023.

At least one of these must be true of your active-duty service:

  • You served in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War, or
  • You served in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998

And both of these must be true for you:

  • You were discharged or released between September 11, 2001, and October 1, 2013, and
  • You haven't enrolled in VA health care before

We encourage you to apply during this 1-year period so we can provide you with any care you may need now or in the future. Enrollment is free. And your care may be free as well.

Vietnam era Veteran eligibility

What new Agent Orange presumptive conditions will VA add?

Based on the PACT Act, we've added 2 new Agent Orange presumptive conditions:

  • High blood pressure (also called hypertension)
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)

If you think you're eligible for VA health care and benefits, we encourage you to apply now.

What new Agent Orange presumptive locations will VA add?

We've added these 5 new locations to the list of presumptive locations:

  • Any U.S. or Royal Thai military base in Thailand from January 9, 1962, through June 30, 1976
  • Laos from December 1, 1965, through September 30, 1969
  • Cambodia at Mimot or Krek, Kampong Cham Province from April 16, 1969, through April 30, 1969
  • Guam or American Samoa or in the territorial waters off of Guam or American Samoa from January 9, 1962, through July 30, 1980
  • Johnston Atoll or on a ship that called at Johnston Atoll from January 1, 1972, through September 30, 1977

If you served on active duty in any of these locations, we'll automatically assume (or "presume") that you had exposure to Agent Orange.

What new radiation presumptive locations will VA add?

We've added these 3 new response efforts to the list of presumptive locations:

  • Cleanup of Enewetak Atoll, from January 1, 1977, through December 31, 1980
  • Cleanup of the Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons off the coast of Palomares, Spain, from January 17, 1966, through March 31, 1967
  • Response to the fire onboard an Air Force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons near Thule Air Force Base in Greenland from January 21, 1968, to September 25, 1968

If you took part in any of these efforts, we'll automatically assume (or "presume") that you had exposure to radiation.

Getting benefits

How do I file a disability claim for a new presumptive condition?

If you haven't filed a claim yet for the presumptive condition, you can file a new claim online now. You can also file by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional.

File for VA disability compensation online

Learn more about how to file a disability compensation claim

If we denied your disability claim in the past and we now consider your condition presumptive, you can submit a Supplemental Claim. We'll review your case again.

Find out how to file a Supplemental Claim

What if VA denied my claim but now considers my condition presumptive?

We encourage you to file a Supplemental Claim. When we receive a Supplemental Claim, we'll review the claim again.

Find out how to file a Supplemental Claim

Note: If we denied your claim in the past and we think you may be eligible now, we'll try to contact you. But you don't need to wait for us to contact you before you file a Supplemental Claim.

What if I have a pending claim for a condition that's now presumptive?

You don't need to do anything. If we added your condition after you filed your claim, we'll still consider it presumptive. We'll send you a decision notice when we complete our review.

Can I apply now?

Yes. We're considering all presumptive conditions established by the PACT Act presumptive on the date the bill becomes law.

If you think you may be eligible for VA health care or benefits, we encourage you to apply now.

When can I expect VA to make a decision on my PACT Act claim?

We encourage all Veterans and survivors to file for benefits now. We'll start to process PACT Act-related benefits in January 2023. We must wait for funding approval from Congress and put the needed systems in place before we can process these claims.

If you apply for benefits at any time in the next year and we grant your application, we'll likely backdate your benefits to the date of the bill signing. This means we'll pay you the amount you would have received from August 10, 2022, to the date we grant your application.

Information for survivors

Can Veterans' survivors get compensation payments under the PACT Act?

Yes. If you're a surviving family member of a Veteran, you may be eligible for these benefits:

  • A monthly VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) payment. You may qualify if you're the surviving spouse, dependent child, or parent of a Veteran who died from a service-connected disability.

    Learn how to apply for VA DIC

  • A one-time accrued benefits payment. You may qualify if you're the surviving spouse, dependent child, or dependent parent of a Veteran who we owed unpaid benefits at the time of their death.

    Learn about evidence needed for accrued benefits

  • A Survivors Pension. You may qualify if you're the surviving spouse or child of a Veteran with wartime service.

    Learn how to apply for a Survivors Pension

What if VA denied my DIC claim and I think I'm now eligible?

You can submit a new application for VA dependency and indemnity compensation (VA DIC).

Learn about VA DIC and how to apply

Note: If we denied your claim in the past and we think you may be eligible now, we'll try to contact you. We may be able to reevaluate your claim. But you don't need to wait for us to contact you before you reapply.

What other VA benefits are survivors eligible for?

You may be eligible for these VA benefits as the surviving family member of a Veteran:

  • Burial benefits and memorial items such as a gravesite in a VA national cemetery or a free headstone, marker, or medallion.
  • A burial allowance to help with the Veteran's burial and funeral costs. You may qualify if you're the Veteran's surviving spouse, partner, child, or parent.
  • Education and training. You may qualify if you're the survivor of a Veteran who died in the line of duty or as a result of service-connected disabilities.
  • Health care through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). You may qualify if you're the survivor or dependent of a Veteran with a service-connected disability.
  • A VA-backed home loan. You may qualify if you're the surviving spouse of a Veteran.

Learn more about family member benefits

File a disability claim online

Apply for VA health care

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Why Did You Leave Your Last Job? (Best Answers To Use)

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"Why did you leave your last job?" is one of the most straightforward interview questions you'll receive. However, that doesn't mean you should answer it without being prepared!

This guide will teach you how to answer this question as well as provide some of the best example answers to help you brainstorm.

Why Interviewers Ask This Question

It's a good idea to think about why interviewers ask "Why did you leave your last job?" before you practice how to answer it. Despite how it sounds, the hiring manager doesn't want to hear you badmouth a previous boss or tell them how awful your former company is. In fact, going down that path will do more harm than good!

There are a few reasons you hear this common interview question.

Primarily, interviewers genuinely just want to know why you left (it isn't a trick question). People seek new jobs all the time. If that weren't the case, you wouldn't be in your current situation. But your reason for leaving your last job is a pretty crucial detail.

Did you leave on your own volition, or were you terminated? That's a significant detail that hiring managers want to know. Being fired doesn't necessarily hurt your chances of landing your next big opportunity, but it can change the discussion and give the interviewer more questions.

Ultimately, the goal is to determine if you left on good terms with your previous company and whether the departure was for valid reasons. That last part can be a little confusing to job-seekers. It might seem subjective, but hiring managers are perfectly within their right to decide if they deem your departure reasonable.

What would an interviewer think if you stated that you were bored, tired of the job, or simply hated the people you worked with? While those reasons might be valid for you, it doesn't put you in the best light.

Asking you why you left your last job helps the employer understand you — your motivation, how you handle challenging situations, and your goals. They are looking for any red flags that may eliminate you such as reoccurring issues with bosses.

Sometimes, they want to know what motivated you to leave or look for a new job.

Companies want to hire people they can rely on, and having someone leave due to seemingly arbitrary reasons isn't ideal.

"Why did you leave your last job?" is a question that can unveil many things about who you are, what type of worker you can be, and what you have to bring to the table. It also gives insight into your past work history and how you might perform in this position. It's a multi-layered question, so putting careful thought into your response is a must.

Remember, at the end of the day, an interviewer is assessing what kind of employee you will be, if you can do the job and if you have the will to do the job.

How to Answer, "Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?"

This question can be tricky to answer. Your current situation will dictate the angle you take, but the primary goal is to show maturity and professionalism while providing all the information the interviewer wants.

Follow these tips, and you should have no problem developing an answer to "Why did you leave your last job? that impresses.

Stay Positive

If a poor experience at your last job is your reason for leaving, it's incredibly tempting to badmouth your previous employer. The urge is even greater if you don't leave on good terms. But it's vital to remember that it's not your responsibility to disclose negative details about your old job. If you do, it'll likely come back and reflect poorly on you!

Do your best to keep things positive. It doesn't matter how awful things were at your previous job or what kinds of experiences you had. Keep it light and try to find some of the good you took from that stage in your career.

There's always a positive you can pull from that experience. It might take some reflection, and you may have to dig deep. But find those positive things to say. Maybe you learned something about yourself (like what motivates you), or you gained a new skill. Whatever the case may be, bring it up!

Discuss the good that came from that job. Even if you were terminated, you need to lean on positivity rather than dip into the less-than-flattering parts of your experience.

Be Honest But Don't Overshare

Here's a big one: Don't lie! One of the biggest mistakes you can make is being dishonest. It doesn't matter how awful things were or the situation surrounding your departure. Resist the urge to lie.

Lying when explaining why you left your last job will only make things worse. Hiring managers will do their due diligence before extending a job offer. If you lied, they could easily find out. There's no quicker way to get yourself out of the running than to lie to a potential employer!

Be honest, and don't paint your old job as something it wasn't. This question can be difficult to answer if you don't leave on the best terms. Some interviewers will also press for more details than you initially provide, making it feel like pouring salt into a wound.

Don't let that deter you. Be honest and factual. The easiest way to avoid lying is to eliminate opinions from your response. Focus on the facts and remove your emotions from your answer.

All that said, you should also avoid oversharing. Going too much into the finer details can hurt your chances just as much as lying. Let's face it: There could be less-than-flattering aspects of your previous job experience that paint you negatively.

There's no need to get into those details if the interviewer doesn't ask! They might press for more information. But keep it brief and straightforward unless they do so.

Connect It To the Job You're Currently Interested In

One great way to answer this question is to connect it to the job you're currently trying to land. There are a few ways to do this. The best is to talk about how you left your job for greener pastures.

Say, for example, that you weren't happy with your work in your old job. Maybe it wasn't enough of a challenge, or the job didn't make you happy. There's nothing wrong with leaving in search of something new.

But if you decide to bring that up, take the opportunity to connect the dots and illustrate why you're in that interview room. For example, you can link your response to the job description and show the interviewer why this job is a better fit for your life and career goals.

Going this route has its perks. For one, it doesn't bad mouth anyone or mention anything negative about your old company. Secondly, it highlights the fact that you took charge and decided to make a change. Interviewers respect that because it shows how you resolved the issue.

Finally, a response like this tells the interviewer exactly why you're there. It lets them know you're serious about the new job prospect and want to land this position.

Rehearse Your Answer

Our final tip is to rehearse as much as you can.

That doesn't mean you should have your answer memorized verbatim or create a script. However, you should feel reasonably confident providing a suitable response.

"Why did you leave your last job?" isn't an interview question that should scare you. People quit multiple jobs throughout their life and career. There's nothing wrong with seeking greener pastures.

The key here is to be confident and prepare a good response. This isn't a question you want to think about on the spot. Put thought into it early and be confident in your words.

Believe In Your Answer

To sound convincing your answer needs to convey confidence. This is easier to do if you have practiced your answer out loud and tested it on someone you respect. Sit up straight, look the interviewer straight in the eyes and confidently provide your answer.

What You Shouldn't Say

A question like this doesn't have a universally right or wrong response. How you answer it depends entirely on your personal work experience.

That said, the tips above can help you formulate an answer that works in your favor. On the opposite side of the coin, here are some things you should avoid saying. Including any of the following in your response can ruin your chances.

Flat-Out Lies

We can't stress enough how important it is to avoid lying.

No matter what your industry is, it's likely well-connected. Even if you're moving to an entirely different field, businesses in your area have some rapport. Hiring managers know each other, and word travels fast.

If you lie when explaining why you left your last job, you're not just hurting your chances at this job opportunity. It could harm your reputation.

No one wants to work with someone who bends the truth. Dishonesty is a big deal, and the reputation lying creates could follow you around long after this job interview.

Negative Statements About Previous Bosses or Colleagues

As we mentioned earlier, stay away from negative remarks. It's tempting, and some applicants get the impression that interviewers want them to talk down on former employers. While business can certainly breed some form of competitive atmosphere, this isn't the direction you should take your answer.

Talking negatively about your former boss or colleagues will make you look bad. Furthermore, it can leave a sour taste in interviewers.

If you're fine badmouthing your old boss now, what will you say about your next employer? Trash-talking tells the interviewer what kind of person you are and what nastiness you're capable of. It's not the best way to start a job, and the negativity will do more harm than good.

Unprofessional Statements That Reflect Poorly on You

Always err on the side of professionalism when coming up with your answer to this question. Once again, it's tempting to go on and on about how you were unappreciated or underpaid. You might even want to go on a tangent about just how awful your old workplace was.

But the last thing you want to do is get too personal or overly comfortable. Remember: The interviewer isn't your best bud, and the office isn't a bar with a couple of drinks. It's an interview that can help you further your career!

Do your best to keep things professional and avoid anything that sounds too personal or casual.

Quick, Flippant Responses

Another thing to avoid is quick responses. Many job-seekers try to avoid divulging too much about their former work experience. You might try to dodge the question entirely by providing one-word or flippant responses.

That's not a good approach. Your answer to "Why did you leave your last job?" is important, and there are things the interviewer is looking to find out. Going out of your way to not answer them doesn't make you look good.

It makes it seem like you have something to hide! Don't let the interviewer's imagination run wild and fill in the gaps you won't provide. You don't have to get into full details, but give a reasonable answer that satisfies the purpose of this question.

Impulsive Reasoning

Lastly, try not to give impulsive reasons for your departure. For example, being bored isn't usually a valid reason for wanting to leave. The same goes for not liking your coworker or finding your boss annoying. Those reasons can make you sound immature, so you should reconsider your phrasing at the very least.

It's also a good idea to steer clear of money-focused responses. You can talk about your old salary and mention that it's one of the factors for your departure, but don't let your answer revolve around money. You'll have plenty of time to discuss that later in the interview.

Best Example Answers

We have a few of the best examples of how to answer this question and leave a positive impression. Your answer will depend on your actual work experience, but you can use the following responses as inspiration to guide you in the right direction.

Example 1

In our first example, the applicant's reasoning is simple. They were involuntarily laid off. The response to this question is succinct and doesn't have any negative undertones that could spoil the interviewer's opinion of them.

"I left my previous job due to downsizing. My former employer had to cut back on expenses. Unfortunately, my position was on the chopping block, and I got laid off.

The position at [COMPANY] requires much of the same work I did at my former job, but the expanded responsibilities make me feel like it's a natural next step for my career."

Example 2

Our second example is a little more layered. In it, the job-seeker's reason for wanting to leave was because they didn't feel fulfilled or challenged in their previous role. Their response mentions that without talking bad about the company. Plus, it ties everything back to the new job opportunity while flattering the hiring company.

"I didn't feel challenged in my previous job. I worked at that company for several years and thought it was time to take on a new challenge. A former colleague recommended this job to me.

After looking at the position, I became quite intrigued by the role. It sounds like a fantastic opportunity, and I'm eager to use my qualifications to be a part of [COMPANY]."

Example 3

Here's a response to try if you were fired. In this example, the applicant acknowledges why they were fired and what they did to make improvements. It's a textbook example of talking openly about a negative experience without going negative.

"Unfortunately, I was let go from my previous job. After speaking with my former boss, we agreed I was not the right fit. I couldn't learn the necessary skills required to succeed in that position.

I've since worked to improve my qualifications through training and certification. I'm seeking to harness those new skills more appropriately in my next role."

Conclusion

Even though "Why did you leave your last job?" might seem like a simple interview question to answer, there are plenty of layers to it. Fortunately, spending some time practicing and keeping our tips in mind will make the process easy!

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VETSports as a tool to embolden Veterans transitioning back into civilian life

By news.VA.gov | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2022, Reprinted with permission

Courage, resilience, teamwork. Those words are ingrained into the fabric of VETSports, an organization that dubs itself "The Official Home of Sports for Veterans."

VETSports is focused on improving the physical, mental and emotional health of Veterans through sports, physical activity and community involvement. The non-profit group has provided thousands of former service members with opportunities to reintegrate into their communities through sports, community service, events and partnerships.

All VETSports chapters are led by volunteers

The organization makes a special push to help transitioning Veterans find their footing in civilian life after being accustomed to the rigors of the military and the traumatic experiences that it can present. VETSports supports active-duty military to Veterans at any reintegration stage.

"It's really all about getting them reintegrated in their hometowns with a team of Veterans in a different uniform," VETSports President Randy Tharp told VA's Veterans Experience Office. "VETSports is Veteran-driven, so all of our chapters are volunteer-led and member-based. [A Veteran] goes to the chapter lead and says, `I want to do softball,' or `I want to do flag football or golf,'" he said. "VETSports provides the means and resources to do that. We pay for uniforms, league fees, equipment. As long as Veterans are participating in an active way with their teams, we find that that provides the most value."

VETSports maintains a series of core services. They include a program aimed at helping athletes who are pursuing a professional sports career, whether in bobsledding, archery, or any other sport. VETSports also has a scholarship-internship program to help Veterans as they go through school so, for example, they can potentially manage a team at their university or serve as a coach. VETSports will provide a stipend to help these Veterans pay for school.

First responders can also participate

In VETSports' S3 program — Students Sidelines Support — the organization helps Veterans who may need help financially. Many Veterans are on fixed incomes and may need help with daycare, bill paying and other necessities. "We also provide that as an approach to get Veterans back active," Tharp said.

Membership in VETSports is free. Veterans can join online and get connected to a local chapter leader in their area. The organization has 35 chapters around the country, and any Veteran can launch a chapter in his or her community. VETSports provides the necessary resources, including the budget, to get kicked off. "Usually, chapters start as a team that may already be in place like softball or flag football," Tharp said.

All Veterans are eligible to participate.

"We even let our first responders participate," Tharp said. "A lot of police officers, firefighters are Veterans themselves, so it's just kind of a natural fit for us to come together. We also include them in that, too. And active duty, as well. We have a lot of active military participants around their bases."

A Veteran does not need to be disabled to participate in VETSports.

"We don't try to ask those questions," Tharp said. "A lot of wounds are invisible, and I think just being part of a team, part of a group, part of a community is therapy in itself."

VETSports, he added, is accommodating to Veterans who are not sports-oriented: "It doesn't have to be sports. It can be any physical activity we want to help with. We have community walks, community jogs. We're open just to get Veterans back engaged."

Veterans can also check out VA's sports and creative arts opportunities available through the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA. Veterans should verify the information with the organization offering.

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