10+ reasons for leaving a job

Last updated: June 17, 2024
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Kai Dickerson
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10+ reasons for leaving a job
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At some point in your life, you’re probably going to leave your job.

You’ll probably have multiple jobs during your lifetime, and each time you interview for a new role, you’ll be asked the same question:

“Why are you leaving your current job?”

There are tons of great (and not-so-great) reasons for leaving a job, and we’ll touch on some of these shortly. But even if you feel you have a valid cause, there’s a chance your potential employer might not.

It’s important to know how to answer this question clearly, concisely, and candidly while putting yourself in the best position to secure that new job.

In this article, we’re going to give you some insight into why interviewers ask that question, as well as a list of tips and mistakes to avoid when answering.

Let’s start by discussing some of the best reasons to leave a job.

Why people leave their jobs

In 2021, 25% of people quit their jobs. This number was a sharp increase from 2020, when only 18% of people quit their jobs.

One of the reasons for this trend is COVID-19. There were more layoffs during the peak of the pandemic, and people had to work from home.

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Now more workers are seeking a flexible schedule and a better work-life balance. And there are plenty of jobs to choose from, as open positions recently hit 11.0 million.

With more choices, employees can leave difficult situations behind and start a new career.

There is a range of reasons to leave a job. Whether there are plans for company restructuring, changes to your personal circumstances, or you're ready for a new opportunity, you could be thinking about starting somewhere new.

14 common reasons for leaving a job

Here are 14 legitimate reasons people choose to quit their jobs:

1. You’re seeking a new challenge

You might think that the main reason people take a job is the pay.

While salary range is an important factor, 43% of people say they’d leave their current role for professional growth and development opportunities.

It’s no surprise that one of the most common reasons employees leave their jobs is to seek out a new challenge. This usually comes when employees no longer feel that their current role pushes them.

It may be because you've worked for the same company for several years (and have mastered everything there is to learn) or because your workplace offers few opportunities to develop further skills.

2. Your values are no longer aligned with the company’s

Whether it’s developed and maintained intentionally or not, every company has a set of values that are lived out through the actions of all team members.

You may have seen something like this before:

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Employees often choose to leave their current position because they feel that the company’s values don’t fit very well with their own.

For example, a company that very strongly emphasizes that “the customer is always right” might not be a great fit for employees who strongly value equality and fairness. Even if you do believe that you have a duty to serve the customer, this duty has limitations.

An important thing to understand is that what the company values on paper (i.e., through the company's mission statement) doesn't always align with how the company acts.

When this happens, it’s often a red flag for employees. They may decide to leave that work environment in search of a company that fits more closely with their ideal values.

Working for a company that has different values than your own is one of the best reasons for leaving a job.

3. You’d like to earn more

Though your salary shouldn’t be the only consideration when seeking a new position, it’s certainly a driving factor.

Maybe your former employer was facing revenue difficulties, impacting your ability to get a raise in the short term.

Perhaps you’ve been working at the company for several years and have exhausted your opportunities for a pay increase. Or, maybe you’ve asked for a raise, got turned down, and you’ve decided that you’re worth more than what you’re currently earning.

These are all acceptable reasons for leaving a job.

4. You decided to change career paths

Most people will undergo a career change five to seven times in their life. For most people, a change of career happens around the six-year mark.

We’re not talking about switching jobs (which happens far more frequently) but about changing your career path entirely.

In previous generations, this was typically frowned upon. Today, however, a hiring manager often values applicants who have demonstrated an ability to succeed across multiple fields, developing new skills along the way.

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Changing career paths is a great way to gain a broader skill set. Wanting to work in an alternate field is a good reason for leaving a job.

5. You’re unhappy with your current workplace's scheduled hours

There are a number of reasons you may no longer be happy with the hours at your current job.

Maybe you have to work weekends when you didn’t before, and you simply can’t give up every weekend to the job.

Your needs may have changed since you took the job. For example, you might work evenings but have since joined a sports team that practices on Wednesday nights, which you can’t make because you have work.

​​Or, maybe you have to care for a family member with health issues or pick your child up from school. If your role doesn't suit your lifestyle, it could force you to look elsewhere.

If you’re unable to resolve scheduling conflicts with your current employer, it might be a good time to look for another job with flexible hours.

6. Your company went out of business

Generally, there’s not much you can do about your employer going out of business.

If you’ve found yourself without a job due to your current company going out of business, you’re not alone, with more than 100,000 businesses having recently shut down due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

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7. You no longer feel valued in your role

It’s important to feel recognized and valued by your employer. Unfortunately, some organizations neglect to show employees they are valued, leading to a high staff turnover.

Letting potential employers know that you left your previous job due to feeling undervalued can help them decide whether they can give you enough recognition. They should support you to thrive in your new role.

8. You’ve moved to a new area

One of the most obvious reasons for leaving a job is because you’ve moved to a new city.

When you interview for a new role, try to explain how the move relates to your career goals (if it does, of course).

And, if you’re open with your existing employer, they might give you a reference or connect you with a hiring manager in your new location.

9. You want to go back to school

Another great reason for leaving your current role is to pursue further education.

It can be hard to balance that workload while studying and maintaining a healthy work-life balance if you're currently working full-time.

For that reason, many people who go back to school decide to leave their jobs and look for part-time employment.

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10. You decided to try working in a different industry

The two main aspects of a role are the job itself (e.g., receptionist, salesperson, stock person) and the industry you work in (e.g., electronics, business-to-business office supplies, supermarkets).

If you’re feeling a bit bored with your current job, but you love the role, you might decide to look for a similar job in a different industry.

This move can open up a whole new world of challenges while developing your skills and abilities.

11. You started a family

If you have a baby or young child, you might consider quitting your job to be a stay-at-home parent. For some families, it makes financial sense to save money on daycare fees.

These days, it's not just women who take time off to care for children. Some men choose to be stay-at-home parents.

One of the job interview questions a future employer could ask you is why there's a gap in your resume. You can briefly mention your parental break in your cover letter.

If you have to take time off for family reasons, make sure you keep your certifications up to date.

12. You want to travel

Even if you've got your dream job, the temptation to travel could see you quitting. If you have leave, you can use this for a vacation. But, if you want to explore the world without a return date, you'll usually have to hand in your resignation.

Traveling can give you growth opportunities and introduce you to new cultures. Some people choose to work while they travel to help fund their trips.

When you return, you can follow up with your employer as there may be a position available for you. Or you can look for another job offer.

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13. You want to work from home

Your past job may have required you to be in the office. But, there are now more opportunities to work from home.

These positions appeal to job seekers, and if your current employer doesn't offer this option, you may decide to leave.

Before filling out a work-from-home job application, you should make sure you have the tools to succeed. For example, you'll need a quiet workspace and a computer.

And, you'll need to be self-motivated and comfortable working independently. If you’ve never worked remotely before, there are entry-level positions available.

14. There was conflict in the workplace

You may enjoy your job duties, but conflict in the workplace can cause stress. If a manager or co-worker makes your life difficult, it could make you quit your job.

Sometimes conflict can be resolved, and the company may have processes to deal with bullying and abuse. If your problems are ongoing, it could be time to apply for a job at a company with a positive culture and values similar to your own.

If you're feeling overworked and underappreciated, it can lead to burnout. It’s always better to resolve conflict before it starts impacting your daily life.

Why do interviewers ask, “why did you leave your last job?”

When you have a job interview, the recruiter will usually ask why you’re considering leaving your current employer.

There are a few reasons that this is one of the most common interview questions. The main one is that they want to know what you’re hoping to get out of a new job.

For example, if you left your last position because you didn’t fit well with the company culture, your prospective employer will want to know more about your values.

They need to determine whether their company is a good fit for you.

Or if you left your job because the hours were unsuitable, they’ll want to make sure you're available when they need you.

They’re also trying to get an idea of why you might one day leave this job.

For example, suppose you left your previous employer because you’re seeking a higher salary. In that case, it’s reasonable to assume that you might one day leave the new company for the same reasons, particularly if they’re unable to raise your wages.

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You know you’re probably going to be asked this question during an interview, so make sure you’re ready to answer it.

Let’s take a look at how:

How to answer “why did you leave your last job?”

The best way to answer this tough interview question is to be prepared, upfront, and honest.

That means telling your prospective manager the truth about why you left, but you should never bad-mouth your previous employer. This almost always looks bad.

For example, instead of saying, “I left because the hours were horrible,” you could say,“ I decided to look for a role with hours that better suited my lifestyle.”

Try to keep your answer short and to the point and align the reason with your goals and objectives.

For example, if you left because your last job didn’t offer many opportunities for growth, you could say something like,

“I’m looking for a job that offers better career opportunities. I’d like to work toward becoming a duty manager, and my previous job didn’t offer that as a potential career path.”

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Tips and mistakes to avoid when answering this question

It’s common to be asked about your reasons for leaving your current or previous job, but despite knowing this, many interviewees still make mistakes when asked.

So, to make sure you answer this question in a way that'll be received positively by your prospective employer, let’s review some common mistakes and how to avoid them.

Scenario 1: You hated your boss

What not to say: “I’m leaving because my boss is a jerk.”

How to say it better: “My current manager and I have different views on how best to achieve our goals, and it’s making it difficult for me to succeed.”

Scenario 2. You didn’t like your job

What not to say: “I hate my current job.”

How to say it better: “My current role no longer fulfills me, so I’m looking for something that I’m going to find more value and enjoyment in.”

Scenario 3. You didn’t get promoted

What not to say: “I quit because they didn’t give me a promotion.”

How to say it better: “I missed out on an opportunity to get promoted, and a major part of why I wanted that job was because I’m looking for a new challenge. So I decided to search for a job that can provide that challenge.”

Scenario 4. You’re unhappy with your working conditions

What not to say: “The working conditions at my job suck.”

How to say it better: “I feel that my current employer doesn’t value the team enough to provide desirable working conditions, so I’m not enjoying being in that environment.”

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Scenario 5. Your employer has unrealistic job expectations

What not to say: “My boss wants me to do too much work.”

How to say it better: “I feel that my manager doesn’t value my work or understand what the capacity of my role actually is.”

Your skills can help you get a new job

If you want to change your current situation, the skills you've gained in your role could help you secure a new position.

If you haven't changed jobs in a while, updating your resume with the kinds of skills employers are looking for can help you get your foot in the door.

Leadership skills, active listening skills, management experience, computer skills, customer service experience, and cash handling skills are all transferable. This means they'll be attractive to employers, even if you're changing industries.

There may be other skills and attributes mentioned in the job description. Try to highlight these skills in your application. You can also mention them during the job interview.

Don’t spend too much time explaining why you left your previous role. Instead, put the focus back on your good qualities and your enthusiasm for the new role and company.

Where to find a job

If you’ve connected with one of our top reasons for leaving a job examples, you may be ready to start your job search.

There are companies in your area hiring now. You can head over to our job board to look for current vacancies. Search by location or job type.

Before applying, read the job description carefully to make sure it’s a good fit.

Common reasons for leaving a job

There are plenty of valid reasons for leaving your current job, and we’ve discussed just fourteen of the most common ones here. For example, there may be limited growth opportunities, changes to your family circumstances, or health reasons.

Before handing in your resignation letter, make sure you can find a better opportunity.

If you’re getting ready to interview for a new job, keep in mind you’ll need to explain why you left your last role.

To recap, you can prepare for this question by:

  • Having an answer ready

  • Telling the truth and keeping it short

  • Putting a positive spin on your answer and linking it to your wider career goals

If you’ve been fired and you’re ready to get a new job, check out these tips.

Are you looking for more career advice and interview tips? Visit the Tips to Get Hired Resource Center. And when you’re ready, you can start your job search on our job board.



Show previous comments
Jack P
Bullet point

What if you got canned from your last job?

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Khone Sisouphanthong
Bullet point

Is this real .I think is just website you website I apply but no company ever contact yet . It been two months.

Jane Padol
Bullet point

What about people who terminated from their employer due to covid19? Even if they’re not their fault? Do they honestly to say that to the interview, Why they leave their job?

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Michael Fuzi
Bullet point

What about when you have Medical Issues or a health condition and your previous employer does not care and your Lead and Supervisor make bets on weather or not you can drive home that day or not?

Jeff Noble
Bullet point
Yard Manager at CTOS

My last employer is a lying sack of shit, so I tell prospective employers the whole truth and it seems it works. I'm starting a new job soon and was completely honest with them about the situation.

Joanne Fontana
Bullet point
Waitress at Olympic Grill Diner

How about your manager throws a calendar at you bc u switched shifts with a co-worker & he didn’t know about the switch ( I work as a waitress, so it’s no biggie, as long as u have a body there who cares who it is) We’re all professional at what we do & we work as a family. We all help each other out!!

Christopher DiGiovanni
Bullet point
Stockroom Associate at Kmart

One more thing...

Possibly avoid from the high criminal activities, so they prefer to move somewhere else for his or her protection and safety.

Christopher DiGiovanni
Bullet point
Stockroom Associate at Kmart

So true! But...

.Poor health issues if ordered by their doctors.

A wife or husband get promoted somewhere else which means I, for example, am her husband would have to notify 2 weeks in advance.

Maybe a federal witness protection which means if I saw a bad person killed someone and I didn’t want his associates to know where I live, so I would have to request to the FBI to see if I can have a federal witness protection very far and far away which means I would have to resign my work.

One city is very expensive and I can’t afford, so I would like to look for a cheap area before I settle there.

They prefer to stay close with their families.

A person wins lottery, so he or she no longer needs a job anymore.

Seeking for a new or better life somewhere.

Go to college to get a MA degree, depending on what positions require.

Perhaps an early retirement.

Perhaps better public transportation system such as the subway station closer to work especially if he or she doesn’t own a car.

Some more.".

Bullet point

What about if u tell your boss. I can breath and going home and he hangs up 3xs on u?

Kimberly Coleman
Bullet point
Manager at Ut Southwestern Medical Center

How do you answer if you were terminated?

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