Why Did You Leave Your Last Job

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September 22, 2020
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min read

If you recently left your last job, you might be asking yourself why did you leave your last job?

There are plenty of reasons people leave their jobs, both big and small. Reasons to leave a job vary greatly from professional matters to external influences, but as long as you make sure to weigh the pros and cons, there is nothing wrong with taking a new direction.

The following article will run through some of the reasons for leaving a job and will hopefully reassure you that the grass is sometimes greener after all.

Viable reasons for leaving a job

You wanted a higher pay

Undoubtedly, one of the top reasons people have for leaving their previous job is wage-related. Your last position may not have satisfied your financial ambitions. Your last job may have offered good terms at the time, but a few years on you may have outgrown the role, especially if there is little room for progression.

A new job may have become available offering you the opportunity to earn more that simply wasn't an option when you accepted your last job. Employees have every reason to seek higher pay, and if you couldn't get that at your previous job, you have every reason to move on.

You wanted new challenge

When people ask "why did you leave your last job?" the most common answer is probably "for a new challenge". You may have left your last job because it became stale or uninteresting to you, or may have simply outgrown it.

Since starting at your last job, you will have gained valuable skills and experience that allow you to apply for your next job. A new job could tick all the boxes and suddenly it isn't out of reach, so why would you stick around?

You moved away

Sometimes other circumstances interfere with your professional life and you have no choice but to leave your job. Moving away is one such obstacle that sometimes cannot be overcome. If you have recently moved, you will have had no choice but to leave your last job if it is no longer accessible.

However, moving away doesn't necessarily mean you have to leave your previous job behind for good. Some companies allow you to transfer and keep your current role but in a new location. Make sure to ask if this is possible before quitting.

You wanted more responsibility

Your last job may not have had the levels of responsibility you were after. Maybe your former employer didn't trust you with more responsibility, maybe your skill set didn't suit it.

Your next job may suit your skill set better or may just have higher level of responsibility associated with it. Job satisfaction is one of the most common leaving job reasons cited by job seekers nationwide. If your last job wasn't ticking all the boxes then it is time to leave.

You didn't enjoy your last job

Perhaps the reason you left your last job was simply that you weren't enjoying it. Whether it was difficult to manage the workload, a hostile work environment, or a poor work-life balance, it is rarely worth continuing a job you simply do not enjoy.

Providing there is an alternative, there is no need to work in a position that has a negative effect on your mood every day. Take the first opportunity to apply elsewhere and begin preparing to answer interview questions. A job interview for a new role you do enjoy is always preferable to sticking around hoping things change.

You had new commitments

Similar to moving away, changing commitments outside of work can often be a reason for leaving a job. The reason you left your last job may be totally out of your control.

Perhaps you loved your job, you liked your former employer, and got along well with your colleagues. However, if you were suddenly responsible for a sick relative, encountered a family or personal emergency, or have newborn child to look after, leaving your job may be the only answer.

As unfortunate as having to leave your last job may be in that scenario, the choice wasn't in your hands and you shouldn't feel any regret because you had a good reason. Taking on new responsibilities outside of work can sometimes take precedence and that is perfectly fine.

You don't know why you left your last job

If you're having doubts about why you left your last job, this probably isn't what you want to read. Things may have seemed clear at the time and you may have thought that it was the right decision but right now you don't know why.

If this is the case for you, don't panic. Although it is unlikely you can simply return to your previous role, you can still make a positive change. Job seekers have the opportunity to take their career in a different direction, perhaps taking on a slightly different job from their last.

Throw yourself in the deep end of a new role. If you have the credentials the hiring manager is looking for, you may just end up being thankful that you did leave your last job.

In summary

Although the question "why did you leave your last job?" might be intimidating to some, there are plenty of valid reasons to leave a job that didn't fulfill you.

When you leave a job, it gives you the opportunity to make a change in your life. Maybe the decision to leave your last job wasn't in your hands, in which case there is no reason to have it play on your mind.

With persistence and a bit of luck, maybe the hiring manager at your next job interview will offer you a position to work at their company. Then, you won't have to wonder why did you leave your last job again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I explain leaving a job due to a negative work environment without sounding negative?

Focus on the positives by framing your response around seeking a role that aligns better with your values and career goals. Mention that you're looking for a company culture that supports growth and collaboration, which you believe will allow you to contribute more effectively and thrive professionally.

Is it acceptable to mention salary as a reason for leaving my last job during an interview?

It's important to be tactful when discussing salary. You can say that while compensation is a factor, you're primarily interested in finding a position that offers both fair remuneration and opportunities for professional development. Emphasize your desire for a role where you can add value and grow with the company.

How should I address leaving a job due to personal reasons without sharing too much information?

Maintain your privacy by keeping the explanation brief and professional. You can state that you left for personal reasons that required your attention at the time, but you're now fully ready and excited to focus on your career and the opportunities this new position presents.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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