Starting a New Job

Top Eight Reasons for Leaving a Job (With Example Answers)

Jun 12, 2021

When searching for a job, recruiters will want to establish your reason for leaving your current employer. It's an important question that tells them about your career ambitions and character. In your response, you will want to position yourself as a driven professional who works cooperatively with others. Taking time to prepare a thoughtful answer will get you a step closer to securing the role.

In this article, we discuss the common reasons for leaving a job, why it's important to share them, the top eight reasons you can mention and how to explain your reason for leaving.

What are some common reasons for leaving a job?

You can narrow down the common reasons for leaving a job into three key categories. They include future career planning, personal development, and employee dissatisfaction. The most common reason among the three is future career planning. This is when you either want to accept another job offer or believe that you could use your skills and experience elsewhere. Typically, these employees still harbour good feelings for their current employer, however, they believe they can accelerate their growth in a new work environment.

The personal development category comprises the individuals that leave a job for personal reasons rather than professional ones. This may include the desire to move abroad, to spend more time with family or to even transition to an alternative career path. In this case, it's less about the role itself and more about the person's life goals.

Employee dissatisfaction is also an important predictor of resigning from a job. Professionals that have strained relationships with their co-worker or boss may feel obliged to leave a job. Those that do not enjoy their current responsibilities are also more likely to resign. When in this situation, people make this decision to protect their mental wellbeing.

Why it's important to share your reason for leaving

It's important to have an honest conversation about your resignation with your potential employer so that they can understand whether you would be a good fit for their company. Your cooperation is essential for them to tailor the role to your values and needs, especially if you resigned because of a lack of direction.

Being transparent about your reason is also key to starting your new work relationship on a positive. Recruiters will appreciate your ability to navigate tough questions with professionalism. It illustrates your ability to succeed under pressure and maintain an optimistic attitude.

Top eight reasons for leaving a job

The following is a list of the top eight reasons with examples that you can give to your employer when you resign:

Looking for career growth

It's entirely possible to feel that you have nowhere else to grow in your current role. This could be because of the size of your company or a lack of new opportunities as of this moment. Nonetheless, seeking a new challenge is a good reason to leave a job. Employers will respect your decision to grow your skills and experience. Sometimes an honest conversation with your supervisor may even lead you to the promotion you have been vying for. Here's an example of how you could explain your reasoning in this situation:

The experience at ABC Company shaped me into a more capable professional, but I believe that in order for me to continue my growth, I need to go outside my comfort zone. I learn best by challenging myself. Could you share with me how your company invests in its employees?

Accepting a better offer

Finding a job is all about timing. That's why it's crucial to stay up-to-date with the current job market. If you receive a new offer, carefully think it over before making your final decision. While your current position may offer more job security, a career move encourages you to grow exponentially. If you decide to accept the offer, here's how you can share your reasoning:

I believe I am ready to take on a role with more international scope and responsibility. Although I learnt a lot in my previous role, I think it's important to keep pushing myself.

Change in career direction

Your career goals change as you gain experience. In time, you might discover that another profession or industry would be a better fit for you. Here's an example explanation if you find yourself in this situation:

Over the years, I have gravitated more and more towards artistic projects. I believe this career change would allow me to use my creative thinking to its fullest potential.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How to Stand Out When Changing Careers

Your values no longer align

If you felt dissatisfied or underappreciated in your previous role, you can frame this reason more positively. Mentioning that your values did not align is a more mature approach that illustrates your professionalism. In an interview, always speak politely of your ex-colleagues as it speaks volumes about your character. Here's an example of how to discuss this reason:

In time, I realised my values and my previous employer's idea of success did not completely align. After doing much research about your company, I believe I will be an excellent fit here.

Organisational changes

When a company goes under a restructuring, it might influence your responsibilities. Changes to management can infuse your work style with new strategies and goals that you may or may not be a suitable match for. Mergers during an economic crisis may also lead to company-wide layoffs. The following example is an acceptable way to phrase your reasoning should you find yourself in a similar situation:

I am really proud of my work during my tenure with XYZ Company. Currently, we are going through some structural changes, which leads me to believe that my talents would be better suited elsewhere.

Let go from a company

Economic constraints may leave you with no choice but to leave a company. However, you can turn this emotional experience into an asset. You can use it to motivate yourself to explore a new direction. Be truthful about being let go in an interview. Share with recruiters how you have been developing your skills and how they translate to different roles. Here's an example of what you might say:

When I reflect on my previous role, I realise my employer and I had different expectations about what we wanted to achieve. It was an excellent learning experience that helped me recognise my strengths and weaknesses. In fact, what excites me about this role is our shared vision. I believe it aligns with my skills and experience.

Related: How to Deal With the Stress of Losing Your Job

Family reasons

It's natural to come to a point in your career where you want to prioritise your family life. This could mean changing jobs for a better work-life balance or moving closer to home. It's also common for parents to take a work sabbatical after giving birth. Here's an example:

Taking time off work was one of the best decisions I could make for me and my child. It helped us bond, but it also gave me much-needed time to reflect on the next stage in my career. During my sabbatical, I made it a point to stay in touch with industry news and attended several workshops to grow my skills. Now, I believe I'm ready to get back into the workplace.

Desire to pursue higher education

Studying for an advanced degree is an ambitious step to advance your career prospects. Not only does it expand your thinking, but it also leads to a greater sense of fulfilment later in life. Resigning from a post, for this reason, shows recruiters your commitment to your personal development. Here's an example of this common reason:

Since technology is revolutionising the industry so quickly, I pursued a master's in digital marketing to improve my understanding of the subject. Today, I can comfortably implement a data-driven strategy in business.

How to explain your reason for leaving a job

In an interview, you can expect a recruiter to ask, 'why do you want to leave your current job?'. The common interview question seeks to examine your professional courtesy and career ambitions. It helps recruiters gauge for any warning signs and evaluates your ability to reflect on your performance. The following guide elaborates on how to explain your reason for leaving a job:

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

1. Prepare a coherent answer

Take time to structure your answer. Write down the key points you want to address in your response. Reflect on your values, goals and needs. Understand why your current job could not align with these beliefs to prepare a logical response.

2. Keep your reply short

Lengthy responses to this common interview question may sound distracting. A reply that's about two to three sentences, however, shows that you have given your decision a great deal of thought. It makes you appear confident yet genuine.

3. Be honest

If you felt unsatisfied with your job, you do not need to go into the details about it. However, you can still be honest, phrasing it in a way that appeals to your personal values and sense of fulfilment. Remember to not make any disparaging comments about your previous co-workers. This can make recruiters wary of your application.

4. Frame your answer positively

Recruiters want to work with positive people. They not only bring a lightness into the workplace, but they also make great co-workers. Thus, keep up a positive tone in all your responses. Rather than viewing resigning as a negative, think of it as an exciting time to grow in your skills and experience.

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