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How to explain the reasons for leaving your previous job

Marlon Mai - 20/11/2014
Career advice

You are about to leave your old job, or are on the verge of accepting a new job offer. There is one question that you better be able to answer – why do you want to leave your job? The motivation behind leaving your job is something that both your current and your future bosses will want to fully understand.

When looking for a new job, I recommend that you first make a list of your reasons for leaving your old job and then arrange them in order of priority. This will help with clarifying the direction of your career, add logic and rationale to your explanation for leaving your job, and will prevent new questions being asked.

Generally speaking, people leave their jobs for professional reasons (looking for better employment, or for a company which is growing better) or personal ones (long commute, clash with studying, family reasons). Or it could also be for reasons you prefer to keep to yourself, such as that you hate your current job, the work atmosphere, or your superiors. Below is the list of common reasons for leaving your job that we often hear, and it includes both good and bad reasons to give at an interview. You have to keep the reason for leaving consistent during both the exit interview at your old workplace and the job interview at your new one. This way, your new employer will have no misgivings about you after performing a background check.

Rational, easy to understand and accept reasons for leaving your job:

  • You are looking for better career prospects, professional growth and work opportunities
  • You want a change in career direction
  • You are looking for new challenges at work
  • You were made redundant or the company closed down
  • Your company was restructuring
  • Your company underwent a merger or an acquisition
  • Your company’s growth prospects are poor
  • Your job duties have been reduced, or your job outsourced
  • You have to travel on business too often
  • You are to be sent to a faraway foreign location
  • You need to be able to take better care of your family
  • You want to study or go travelling for a prolonged period of time
  • You are employed for one project, or on a short-term contract

 

Bad reasons to give for leaving your job:

  • The company turned out be disappointing
  • You didn’t like your job or your boss
  • Your boss did not keep his promises (of promotion or a raise)
  • Your job was boring and you grew sick of it
  • You don’t want to work overtime
  • The targets set at work were not realistic and hard to achieve
  • Office politics
  • Lack of family support
  • You were fired
  • You left for legal reasons

 

I hope you found the interview tips helpful and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require further advice.

Marlon Mai's picture
Operations Director | Finance & Accounting, IT, Sales & Marketing Recruitment
+86 21 2287 3160
mmai@morganmckinley.com