When you are looking for a new job, you need to be prepared to explain to a hiring manager why you are a free agent. Some relevant reasons for leaving a job include taking additional responsibility, seeking an increase in pay and relocation. Your resulting resume gaps can also be explained away by citing taking time off to raise a family or going back to school. Coming out of a tough economy and even getting laid off doesn't have the stigma attached to it that it once did.
However, many people quit for more personal reasons because they could not deal with a screaming boss, they felt stuck in a dead-end position or they were tired of enduring poor treatment. In those cases, you will have to find a way to put a positive spin on why you decided to say, "I quit!" when you go to your next job interview.
The last thing you want to risk is having your interviewer think that you are a quitter who could not hack it, you were not a team player or you were hard to manage. This is how you can explain in an honest way why you quit your last job without scaring off recruiters.
Reasons for Leaving a Job
- You are burned out.
- You were caring for your health or the health of a loved one.
- You need a change.
- You clash with the company's ethics.
- You are seeking career advancement.
- You Left A Demanding Job Because You Were Burned Out
During the interview, the hiring manager asks, "Why did you leave your last job?" Do not launch into a tirade about how you were expected to work 80 hours a week or how your supervisor expected you to answer 11 p.m. emails.
Instead say something along the lines of: "I'm looking for an opportunity where I can leverage my relevant skills and experience while also balancing time with family and friends. I believe we perform our best when we have a healthy balance between work and life."
Many companies embrace a work-life balance, so focus your answer on the type of work environment that you thrive in.
If you have no other gaps on your resume and have a track record of working with companies for big chunks of time, an interviewer should be satisfied with that response.
- You Left To Take Care Of A Family Member Or Health Issue
Of all the good reasons for leaving a job, your duty to your health and your love dones is at the top. While you certainly do not have to get into the specifics if you went out on the Family and Medical Leave Act and then just didn't return to the job after your 12 weeks were up, you might want to at least give the interviewer some key information.
You can address that this was a very specific and one-time issue that is now resolved and assure them the situation is not part of a pattern. That way, a hiring manager will not be worried that they will bring you on board only to lose you in a few months.
- You Needed a Change
If you are making a career change, is it because you simply reached the point where you could not stand what you were doing anymore? Instead, say something along the lines of: "I am seeking out opportunities that will allow me to make full use of my newly acquired web design skills".
Prospective employers are looking for stability so you want to do your best to demonstrate that you are not just seeking this position on a whim but that you have taken steps to prepare yourself and have done industry research to make sure this is what you want.
- You Were Not In Agreement With Your Former Company's Ethics
There are times when resigning from a job might have been the smartest thing you could have done, namely if you notice activities going on that run afoul of basic ethics, if not the law. You do not want your reputation diminished by a shady organization.
If your company does not value honesty or playing by the rules, there is a good chance that future employers will assume you lack those values as well.
That said, bashing your former employer will not go over well even if it is well deserved.
Try to turn the conversation onto the values that you share with this new potential employer. You can certainly bring up legitimate disagreements you had with management, but be sure to present your train of thought and why you fundamentally disagreed.
Make the shift to describe what you admire about the company you are interviewing with, such as how they focus on diversity and inclusion or strive to be environmentally conscious. This will also give you the opportunity to show that you did your homework.
- You Are Looking For More Money Or A Promotion
Career advancement is high on the list of reasons for leaving a job. If there is no sign of your career moving forward, no new responsibilities, no new skills to learn and no raise coming your way, why bother staying? There is a way to express that in an interview without coming off as angry or bitter.
Explaining to the interviewer that you have reached the growth ceiling in your position and that you are ready for a new challenge. This explanation puts a positive spin on your departure and positions your professional development at the center. The word challenge implies that you will be hard working while remaining committed.
No matter your reason for resigning from a job, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:
- Less is more. Provide just enough information to explain your reason for leaving without going into too much detail.
- Stay on point. Stick with sharing relevant information that relates to the company and position that you are applying to.
- Be honest. While you can certainly frame how you quit in a positive way, you should never flat out lie about how things went down.