10 Good Reasons For Leaving A Job

By Mike Simpson

In life they say all good things (and bad things) must come to an end…and in the job market, that can ring especially true.

Are you in a job that you plan on leaving?

Have you already left and are actively in the market looking for a new position?

Unless you’ve never worked a day in your life ever, eventually everybody with a job will all find themselves having to answer the question, “Why did you leave your last job? or having to give your current employer reasons for leaving a job. (Check out our “exit interview” article.)

So when can you expect to have to deal with these scenarios, and what is the best way to deal with this tricky situation?

There are three main scenarios where this can happen:

  1. You are in a job interview and have been asked the question “Why did you leave your last job?”
  2. You are applying for a new job and one of the requirements on the job application is to give the reasons you left your last job.
  3. You are leaving your current job and need to give your current boss a reason for you leaving.

Here’s the good part though.

Once you learn how to properly describe your reasons for leaving for one of the scenarios listed above, you can apply the same logic to the other two.

In our case, we’ll start with the job interview, and then you’ll see that you’ll already have the answer when it comes to the job application and the conversation you’re going to need to have with your current boss.

P.S. To ensure a graceful exit from your job check out blog post “How to quit your job.”

1) During An Interview: Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

There are generally three things a hiring manager is trying to figure out about you when they ask this question:

  1. Did you leave for the right reasons? Are you a person who is solid and reliable or are you flighty and impulsive? Did you leave because you were offered another position at another company or did you wake up one day and decide you were quitting to pursue your dreams of alpaca racing? Ultimately an employer wants to know are you loyal, stable, responsible and/or reasonable.   This can also roll into your work values. Did you leave your job because you felt underutilized or unappreciated? Was that a result of your overblown sense of importance or because you had truly achieved as much with a company as you could possibly achieve. Did you outgrow the role professionally because of your skills and abilities or did your ego outgrow the role?
  1. Did you leave on your own or were you asked to leave? If you left on your own, again, the employer wants to make sure it’s for the right reasons. If you were asked to leave, was it because of performance or integrity issues, or if it was due to other circumstances like downsizing, mergers, or a whole host of other, non-performance related issues.
  1. Did you leave as a professional? When you left, did you do it in such a way that you are still on good terms with your former employer or are you officially “persona non gratis?” Were you escorted out of the office by security? Best case scenario: your former boss is one of your references. Worst case scenario: Your boss is the star witness in your upcoming criminal case.

This is always a great way for a potential new employer to figure out that not only are you a good employee, but that you’ve got solid positive relationship skills, something which is always a highly sought after quality in the professional world.

Get Our Why Did You Leave Your Last Job Cheat Sheet!

BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Download our "Why Did You Leave Your Last Job PDF Cheat Sheet" that gives you:

  • 5 word-word-for-word answers to this tough interview question including the following scenarios:
    • You didn't enjoy the work
    • You needed a change
    • You needed more money
    • You were fired
    • And more!
  • PLUS: 20 more great reasons you can use to enter into your job application that aren't found in this article. PLUS 15 reasons you SHOULD NOT use!


Let’s Get the Heck Out Of Dodge!

Jobs end for a whole multitude of reasons.   If you’re a freelancer, it could be you’ve completed the task you were hired for and it’s time to move on. If you’re a full time salaried employee, it can be a bit more difficult.

There are jobs where you leave because you want to…and then there are times when you leave because you have to. Neither is an easy situation…but it also doesn’t have to be an impossible one…

(And while we are talking about actually leaving a job… do you know how to write a proper resignation letter?  No?  Then head over to our article “How To Write a Resignation Letter” to get our tips for making this difficult situation much easier!)

Anyway, when faced with having to answer the question, “Why did you leave your last job?” it’s understandable to have a moment (or two) of trepidation and uncertainty. The last thing you want to do is give any possible employer any reason at all to question hiring you.

Luckily, we’re going to show you that this question isn’t anywhere as scary as you think it is.

Brace Yourself, This Question Is Coming

The first thing you want to do is make sure you think about how you answer this before you even get to the interview.

Now would be an excellent time to read “Job Interview Questions and Answers 101”, the absolute best interview question resource available on the internet. We give you our formula for answering any job interview question perfectly, including “Why did you leave your last job?”.

Remember all that prep we tell you to do? All that research? All those practice questions and scenarios?

Well…this question is no different!

The more you think about it before you get to the interview (or even before you fill out the application) the better off you’ll be answering it! And remember, like any question you’ll be answering, the key to success (beyond preparation beforehand) is to keep your answers clear, concise and positive!

This isn’t the time to get defensive, or worse, talk trash. No employer wants to hear how awful your last job was (even if it was literally the worst job on the planet, with the worst boss in the history of all jobs. Save those stories for your tell all biography…or better yet, movie of the week…).

A good employer is going to recognize and understand that people leave jobs every day for many reasons.

This question is meant to honestly assess why you’re back on the market, not trip you up…so instead of seeing it as a landmine, use it as yet another opportunity to demonstrate why YOU ARE THE PERFECT CANDIDATE!

DISCLAIMER: Before we get too deep into this whole article, let me make one thing PERFECTLY CLEAR. YOU ARE NOT LEGALLY REQUIRED TO INFORM A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER IF YOU WERE FIRED OR TERMINATED FROM A FORMER JOB. More on that a little down the line…but for now, keep that in mind.

Let’s look at a few different reasons why you might have left your last job.

10 Good Reasons For Leaving a Job


1. Another Company Offered You A Better Deal

Leaving a former employer to take on work with a new employer should never affect your application status. If you left one job to take a position with another company for an increase in pay, a promotion, or simply because you wanted to work for a different company, those are all very valid reasons. When answering this question, you don’t need to list those reasons, simply keep it short and sweet:

  • “I was offered a position with another company and accepted.”
  • “I was offered a promotion with another company and accepted.”

Short, sweet, and without too many details. You don’t need to tell the potential employer how much your raise was, or what the promotion was…

2. You Didn’t Like What You Were Doing

Maybe the job wasn’t one you enjoyed doing, or the job changed from what you originally anticipated it to be. Maybe you just woke up one day and said, “Being an accountant isn’t really what I want to do with the rest of my life, I think it’s time to finally try being what I was always destined to be, a free range squirrel wrangler.” More power to you!   In this case, you want to make sure to avoid words like “quit” or “walked out.” Instead try the following:

  • “I reevaluated my career goals and am looking for other employment opportunities.”
  • “I am interested in pursuing other possibilities within my chosen career field.”
  • “I am currently looking for a position better matched to my skills and long-term career goals.”
  • “I am looking for a position within a company where I can contribute and grow.”

3. You Have Other Life Goals You Want To Accomplish

It is perfectly acceptable to leave a job because you realize that you have other goals you want to accomplish. Prime examples of this include quitting a job to go back to school, travel, work on outside interests or hobbies, or even try self-employment for a time. Although changes like this might leave large gaps in your work history (especially in the case of going back to school) those gaps are not a reason for an employer to be concerned…especially if the ultimate goal was a desire for self-improvement!

  • “I went back to school to pursue a master’s degree program.” (especially strong answer if what you’ve gotten your degree in relates to the job you are applying for!)

4. Your Old Boss Is No Longer With The Company And You Don’t “Vibe” With Your New Boss

This scenario is not unusua