How to explain the reasons for leaving your previous job

How to explain the reasons for leaving your previous job

October 16, 2019 Leave a comment Featured

It has become a common trend to explore multiple career options during our lifetime. The conventional ‘education, employment and retirement’ pattern of life has undergone a metamorphosis.

There is a growing desire among workers for a new type of career journey.

Professionals now not only explore different fields of career, but they also explore the variety of work offered by the organisations by switching their job profiles and career directions.

However, while switching a job, a very common question that every employee has to answer is ‘Why did you leave your previous job? What made you switch your career? What are you looking for in the new job that you didn’t get in the previous one?’ They all mean the same and wish to derive similar answers. 

In the journey of his career every professional is bound to encounter this question if he plans to switch his job. There are a few important points to be considered before finally answering this question to your employer. If you have had a good and healthy relation with your previous or current employer and you want to switch for better opportunities and career growth, the reasons will be simple and straightforward.

However, if you have had a bitter relationship with the previous employer, or you get fired, you may not wish to disclose that blatantly, exhibiting a bad image as your first impression.

Before starting to hunt for a job, it is highly recommended that you make a list of the reasons for leaving your job and then arrange them in order of priority. This will help in clarifying the direction of your career, provide logic and rationale to your explanation for leaving your job, and will prepare you for the questions that can be asked by your future employer.

There are mainly two reasons for leaving a job: Professional reasons, such as, looking for better opportunities, looking for higher pay, or working with a more established or popular brand. Personal reasons include traveling issues, negative work environment, dispute with a co-worker/senior, medical or family issues.

In this blog, you will find multiple reasons that you can forward to your future employer or present in an interview. Remember the tone of your voice, emphasis on the facts and body language plays a key role in any interview.

The reasons given by you must be backed by proper expressions and communicated in the right context. You must keep the reason for leaving the previous organisation consistent in both the exit interview at your old workplace and the job interview at your new one. The organisation where you are applying may go through a background check with your last employer. Hence, stick to the reason you presented in the exit interview. This way, your new employer will have no misgivings about you after performing a background check.

Easy to understand and acceptable reasons for leaving your job

  1. Looking for career growth: This is the first and most common reason that many employees present while exiting a job. The reason also appears quite genuine and stirs no bitter feelings. If your present employer doesn’t provide enough opportunities for you to grow, you may choose this reason and leave the organisation. Neither your present nor your future employer should have an issue with the same. This is obvious that every employee looks for better career prospects, professional growth and work opportunities after a period of time. Make sure you have spent at least a year or two in your last company before giving this reason. Also keep in mind some points that your future employer may ask about the opportunities you see in this organisation.
  • Change the direction of your career: Many people switch to explore different positions and job profile. This reason gives a positive impact on your future employer, highlighting the fact that you want to expand your knowledge and hone your skills. But this reason also points out the fact that you were not determined or clear about the direction of your career when you chose your last profile. If you are giving this reason in the beginning of your career, this is acceptable. However, if the reason is given after you have already spent a decade working for the same profile, it may give a hint that you are indecisive about your career.
  • Looking for new challenges at work: If you have spent substantial amount of time at your present organisation and your KRAs have not been changed, you may give this reason to leave your job as well as explain this to your future employer. Same work and lack of challenges brings monotony in one’s life. This is a strong reason for leaving a job.
  • Redundancy or no five-year plan: Oftentimes, a start-up or a company lacks vision and planning. In the absence of a five-year plan, the future of the company appears blur. This also gives rise to dissatisfaction, queries and a feeling of instability among the employees. This happens to be one of the reasons for bulk resignation in many organisations.
  • Change in policies and structure: Companies tend to make abrupt changes in their policies without consulting their employees. The decision taken by the management could be harsh and may bring in rules that you may not wish to comply. Every employee has absolute rights to leave a job if the company makes bizarre and major modifications in the policies. While mentioning this reason, you must also mention that the policies were different when you joined the organisation and no such mention is there in your contract or joining letter.
  • Job transfer or travel: In case, your current company wishes to transfer or send you to a distant location that you did not sign up for in the beginning, you may choose to switch and provide this as a reason for your resignation. If in the beginning, your job profile was more of a desk job and there were no commitments about travelling or transfer, you have the right to question your employer. And if things do not work out well, you can opt for exiting the job. Your future employer will understand your concerns. This is a genuine reason for any employee to switch or in the worst scenario simply end the job.
  • Health concerns: The reason for the deterioration of your health could be anything, ranging from long working hours to lack of sleep or a major ailment. Many employees think that giving a reason like health problems may give a bad impact on the future employer, but this is one of the most honest reasons that may also sail you through the interview process. You must mention that at the time you are applied for the present job, you are in the best of your health.
  • Pursue education or a course: If you left your job to continue higher education, you must mention the same while applying in the present company. This is the most genuine reason and there can occur no questioning. However, you must present the degree that you acquired during that period in order to justify the reason.
  • To grab the dream job: The company you are applying for happens to be one of the big brands that you have dreamt of working with, straightforwardly mention that. Tell the employer that you have heard about the good work culture of this organisations and you wish to be a part of it.

Reasons that you must avoid giving in the job interview

  1. The company was horrible: Do not say bad things about your previous employers. You may mention in a euphemistic tone that the previous employer was not as friendly and co-operative as you expected but never blame anyone. Corporate world is competitive and often expects the ‘survival of the fittest’. Such reasons may lessen the changes of you getting the job.
  2. Conflicts with the team members or boss: This reason also appears to give a negative impact to your future employer as you will never get a perfect environment for your work. The working conditions in an organisation keeps on changing depending on the kind of people you have in your team. 
  3. Office politics: Do not subscribe to reasons like these. Every organisation has a set of people and their nature and behaviour can not be same. You will always get a mixed bag and it depends entirely on your individual response as to how you tackle with people.
  4. You were fired: This could be true but do not mention this straightforwardly in your interview. Be euphemistic and explain in a positive manner. You may tell them that there were a few challenges that could not be dealt by either end. And after making efforts, you felt it right to move in a positive direction rather than stuck in stagnancy.

Avoid mentioning anything about the firing process.

  • Lack of perks and leaves: Interview is the first impression that you give to your employer. Avoid mentioning anything that gives them an impression that you are not serious about your work. Emphasising on taking leaves, family concerns, health issues, etc may show insincerity on your part.


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