Hit by the surge in support for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2015 general election, Swinson lost her seat to the SNP candidate John Nicolson.  Her seat was considered the most marginal out of the 11 seats held by her party in Scotland, which she had won in 2010 with a majority of 2,184 over Labour. 
After graduating in 2000, Swinson worked in Yorkshire as a marketing and PR manager for the Emap radio station Viking FM. In 2002 she moved back to East Dunbartonshire and worked for Glasgow-based media business SpaceandPeople. 
Swinson was previously the Liberal Democrats spokesperson on foreign affairs, equality, Scotland and the arts. She was also a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee from 2007 to 2010 as well as being a chairperson of the Liberal Democrats Women’s Policy Working Group in 2009. 
In August 2015, Swinson sought the advice of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments to set up as an independent consultant. The committee advised that she serve a 2 year lobbying ban from her last day in office and that she seek confirmation from the committee for each individual commission. Since October 2015 she has taken up commissions with Women of the World Festival Advisory Committee, Everywoman, The Parliament Project, Northern Power Women Awards , Chartwell Speaking Agency and Eversheds and IPA.
In May 2016, she took up a further 4 commissions with her consultancy with; DBA Speakers, CMI Women in Leadership and the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional association for human resource professionals), and Eversheds, the British multinational law firm. In September, she took up commissions with University College London and InclusIQ, an organisation that provides workshops on workplace inclusivity. In October, she again received approval for a paid commission with Portland Communications. 
She also sought advice from ACOBA regarding a role on the advisory committee of the Advertising Standards Agency. The committee noted Ms Swinson had occasional contact with the ASA while at BIS, and advised that she serve the standard two year lobbying ban from her last day in office. She took up the appointment in January 2016.
Ms Swinson took up 3 further roles in 2015 under the advice of ACOBA, on the basis that she serve a 2 year lobbying ban from her last day in office for each:
- Panel member, research board - BISL Ltd/Comparethemarket.com 
- Chair - Maternity Action
- Non-executive director - Clear Returns 
In November 2016, she was commissioned by Portland to advise the firm on diversity in the workplace. ACOBA gave Swinson the green light for the new role with Portland, which lasted only for several days. 
As a backbencher, Swinson co-founded the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Allergy, Wellbeing Economics, and Body Image. She is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation. She was also a member of the Speaker’s Conference from 2009 to 2010. 
- Jo Swinson close to tears as she loses seat to SNP challenger Mirror, 8 May 2015, accessed 20 May 2015
- Federica Coco, Three Lib Dem MPs you should wave goodbye to, Mirror, 1 April 2015, accessed 21 May 2015
- Jo Swinson, www.parliament.uk, accessed 24 August 2013
- Jo Swinson GOV.UK, accessed 10 October 2014
- Jo Swinson Summary of business appointments, Gov.uk, accessed 23 May 2016
- Jo Swinson Advisory Committee on Business Appointments applications, Gov.uk, accessed 17 February 2016
- Sam Greenhill,'All aboard the gravy train from Whitehall to gold-plated jobs in the City (and here are some of the VERY well-paid passengers)', 4 May 2016, Daily Mail Online, accessed 5 May 2016
- Rod Muir, Swinson gets Portland gig, Public Affairs News, 31 October 2016. Accessed 16 December 2016.
- Sarah Priddy, PIL: Current Members Related to Other Current or Former Members - Commons Library Standard Note, 13 September 2013.