Career Development

Common Reasons for Leaving a Job and How to Explain Them

December 17, 2020

You may have a very good reason for leaving a job, and it's important to convey your reason professionally. You may need to explain your reasons for leaving to your employer before you resign and also to hiring manager when interviewing for your next role. Read on to find out how to handle this situation from start to finish.

10 Common Reasons for Leaving a Job

Find out why these reasons for leaving a job are completely understandable–even to a future employer. Here's a look at some of the factors behind the desire to quit and move on.

You have no room to grow

No matter what job you have, one goal many people have is to grow and excel. To do that, you will need to take on new challenges and responsibilities. If the company you work for is small or you have reached as high as you can go and still feel like you have more to learn, it is understandable to look for another position. You may love the job you currently have but if you cannot see yourself growing any further, it may be time to start looking elsewhere for a better fit. Your growth as an employee can help you move further up the ladder and work toward earning a higher salary.

Your company restructured

When a company restructures, there may be big changes for the staff who remain on board. Sometimes, these changes can lead to the consolidation of different departments. This can lead to changes in your everyday workload and may even affect the type of work you're doing. You may find yourself with new superiors, a different job description, longer hours, or a confusing environment to adjust to. It is not uncommon to shop around for another job when such unforeseen changes happen.

You are being offered a higher pay elsewhere

As much as you may love your job, if you receive a more tempting offer elsewhere, it's a good reason to consider shifting to an opportunity that would give you better rates for your skills. Sometimes, a better offer may not be about monetary compensation alone—it may include a better job description, a better work environment, and more room for your career growth.

You are not using your skills to the fullest

This can be frustrating for anyone. If you have developed a skill set that makes you over-qualified or under-utilized at your current job, it is perfectly normal to seek a better opportunity elsewhere. You may want to make use of all of your skills and even develop new ones. You may also consider shifting to a different organization if you feel that the duties you perform in your position have become stagnant.

You work in a toxic environment

This can be a tricky one. There is a difference between not liking your co-workers and working in a toxic environment. A toxic work environment makes it difficult for you to go to work every day, and it may be due to discrimination. While you should most definitely report this to your supervisor or to human resources, this is also a perfectly valid reason for leaving your job.

You or your company are moving

If your company is transferring to a new location and working there is no longer going to be feasible for you, it is understandable that you may want to seek new employment. It is also possible that you would have a life-changing event that would have you move to a new place of residence. Looking for a job that is closer to your home is important for your quality of life.

You have a personal situation to deal with

If you or a loved one you are responsible for caring for is diagnosed with a medical problem, you may want to leave your job. You may need time off for a while, or want to find a job closer to home to accommodate your new schedule. Whatever the case may be, personal and health situations are a very common reason for leaving a job.

You want to make a career change

If you have been in the same position for several years and are contemplating a complete career change, you are not alone. This often shows that you are willing to take on new challenges and get outside of your comfort zone.

You are looking for a better work-life balance

If you have a very long commute and find yourself spending too much time out of the house each day, you might think about finding a new job with a shorter transport route. After beginning a family or moving a loved one into the home, you may find the long commute is cutting into your personal life just a little too much. This is a valid reason for seeking new employment.

You want to move up in your field

If you started your career at a small company but would now want to continue climbing up the ladder, you may need to consider looking for a new job. A larger company with more opportunities may make this possible.

How to explain the reasons for leaving a job to your current employer

No matter your reason for leaving your job, aim to leave on amicable terms. This is best for your professional reputation as you may also want to use your current employer as a reference in the future. If you have to leave because you're unhappy with the lack of challenges in your job, frame it positively. Instead of saying, “I can't grow professionally here anymore,” try this instead:

“I have learned so much in this role and at this company. It has been a privilege to work here, but I feel like this is the right time for me to explore more challenges and hone my skills even further. Thank you for the opportunities you have given me.”

How to explain the reasons for leaving a job to future employers

Explaining your reason for leaving your job is to be expected as you search for a new job. If you're going on an interview, you can expect one of the first questions to be about why you decided to leave your last job. The best way to answer this question is truthfully, as well as positively. Here are some key things to remember about answering this question:

Explain yourself clearly

Whatever your reason for leaving your job, be very clear in your response. Avoid vague answers like, “I wasn't happy.” Explain the reason in slightly more detail. Instead, you should say, “I wanted to continue to grow, but room for growth was limited.”

Keep it short

This is a question you should answer clearly, in as few words as possible. In other words, don't provide too much unnecessary detail. You don't need to explain every facet of the job you didn't like. Narrow it down to one key reason and explain it very briefly. Your answer should include your reason for leaving your job, but you don't need to provide the backstory as to how you reached this conclusion or how long you contemplated it.

Be honest

Lying to your future employer about why you left your previous job is never a good idea. If you get caught in your lie, you will not only feel embarrassed, but you'll likely lose out on the opportunity as well. Honesty is the best policy. You may want to frame your honesty in a more polite way, but avoid making up a story that is completely false. Even if you were fired from your last job, it is in your best interest to be honest and forthcoming from the beginning.

Remain positive

Even if you had disagreements your previous employer, it isn't professional to say so. This is a question that should be answered with grace, tact and professionalism. Put your personal feelings aside and provide a polite response. Your answer to this question is a reflection of you and your work ethic, and badmouthing your previous employer will not do you any favours.

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