I recently started work as a PM, leading part of a large, long term (18mo+) project. After working on the project for 2 months, performing essentially requirements gathering and staffing work, the funding for the project was stopped, and all work was suspended, indefinitely.

Since I had been brought on specifically to work on this project, my contract was terminated as a result.

Will this be a bad mark on my track-record? How do I speak of it as I seek other employment?

7 Answers 7


'Terminated due to budget cuts' - happens all the time, nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Exactly. I'm working at a federal facility right now, and a lot of our budget will be cut by the new Congress for next fiscal year. It matters not whether we do a good job or not - the budget gets cut, therefore the job is over.
    – Tangurena
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 20:47

If the project was cancelled through no fault of your own, then it is by no means a bad mark on your record. When discussing this in future interviews, consider the successful actions you had in the project before it was cancelled:

  • Gathering requirements
  • Pulling together a team in preparation
  • Beginning specification

Ask yourself the following:

  • What methods did you successfully implement to do the above?
  • What did you contribute over and above the norm?
  • How did you help wind down the project?
  • Did you help to identify a troublesome project in the making, saving the company money and reputation?
  • Did you learn anything that can only be learned from managing a cancelled project (using it as an advantage over other candidates)?

Project was closed, but it was not failed. You didn't fail the project, but you closed it earlier than planned. This not a failure, neither yours nor project sponsors'.

"Project is completed when it meets its objectives", PMBOK says. You started a project when its objective was to create a product in 18 months spending $2M (for example). In two months project sponsors realized that there is no more demand for the product on the market, and they changed project objectives. Now project objectives are: to finalize the project in 2 months with $200k budget. Did you fail to achieve these new objectives? No, you closed the project properly, filed close-out report, and released the team. You're a great project manager, and you should be welcome to another project.

Explain your experience in your resume, and a new employer will see that you know how to work in a dynamically changed environment.


I would just discuss it openly and honestly. In vast majority of cases that's the best solution to tell about such difficult situations. Even when you screwed something up. A person who is aware of mistakes they made is a better candidate than a person who has never made any. The latter either never had to deal with issues or is a liar.


Speak openly and honestly about it. Never be negative about a past company or situation in an interview. Focus on everything that you learned from the project, what you learned from the experience, and how it makes you a better PM and job candidate. unless you personally killed the project then there is no guilt or blame to talk about. Some of my best project experiences and lessons learned were from failed projects (where I didn't personally kill the project, of course :))


Not a negative at all. Projects get canceled. It is a fact of life (and not your doing on this project).

Talk about why you were brought it in the first place. Talk about what you did accomplish.


I wouldn't be worried about it at all. Projects get cancelled all the time and they often have very little to do with what you do on a day to day basis.

I had this happen to me just recently and it was because behind the scenes there was a massive power struggle between two differing teams across continents. Suffice it to say, my project was cancelled.

Leverage what you learned from it and I'm sure there was a ton.

Take a read on the following website and do a search for what you are looking for...you will find a wealth of information:


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