24 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job + How to Explain Them

Stephen Greet
Stephen Greet March 21, 2024
24 Good Reasons for Leaving a Job + How to Explain Them

Ah, the questions that we dread most during a job interview: “Why are you leaving your current job?” or “Why did you leave your last job?”

Arguably even worse than “Tell me something about yourself,” the question of why you’re changing jobs is an important one to get right, and it’s bound to come up in almost every interview.

We have the answers to these and other questions, and we’re here to help you ace your interview. Check out our comprehensive guide with the 24 top reasons for leaving a job!

24 Top Reasons for Leaving a Job

Recruiter points with yellow chalk to job skills and qualifications list on blackboard

Just like it’s important to leave your job for the right reasons and on a good note, it’s crucial to frame your answer to this question in a positive and honest way. You don’t want to lie to the recruiter, but letting it all out is also a bad idea.

The best way to come out unscathed when faced with this question is to prepare for it in advance. Ask yourself, what is a good reason for leaving a job? More importantly, how do you frame yours in a way that highlights that you’re a suitable candidate for the new role?

But if you’re thinking about quitting, you’ve probably accumulated more than one reason for leaving your job.

Whether it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back or you’ve been quietly contemplating it for months, if you feel ready to go, it’s probably due to one of the following reasons.

Compensation and Benefits

Feeling that you’re not properly compensated is a major reason to part ways with your current employer, but it’s important to frame it right when discussing it at job interviews.

Seeking competitive compensation

Being underpaid is one of the top factors that motivate employees to find new jobs, so if that’s where you’re at, you’re not alone. It’s natural to want to earn more, but before moving on to greener pastures, make sure that the new job also aligns with your needs in terms of work-life balance and benefits.

When interviewing, be sure to highlight the things you like about the new company that aren’t strictly related to getting more of those big bucks in your bank account.

Looking for better benefits

The paycheck is just one part of your total compensation, and if the rest of the package isn’t that great, moving on might make sense. Consider whether the new role will be able to deliver benefits that make up for any potential downgrades, such as a longer commute or fewer chances of promotion.

If you’re on the hunt for a job with better benefits, make a list of every option for every employer you’re interviewing with versus your current one. For instance, how does the 401(k) or the dental plan compare to your current job?

You were offered a better opportunity

The current job market is a fickle beast, and it can be quite volatile, especially in certain industries. That’s why a common reason for quitting your job is simply that someone else discovered your potential and wanted you on their team.

A “better opportunity” doesn’t necessarily mean “more money.” It could be better benefits, better company culture, or better hours, and those are just some examples.

Personal Growth and Career Advancement

It’s not all about the money. Even if you love your job, you might feel tempted to leave if it doesn’t align with your long-term goals, which is what we’ll cover below.

Evaluating and comparing new opportunities

Some career gurus will tell you that you should never stop looking and keeping your resume skills and work experience up to date.

Even if you’re not actively looking to leave, you might be casually shopping around and find that there are opportunities out there that are better than your current job, and there’s no reason not to take them.

Limited growth opportunities

Starting a new job can be scary, but there’s a certain feeling of discontent and defeat that comes with hitting the so-called glass ceiling. When you feel confident and have the knowledge and the expertise to reach higher, but you realize that your company can’t stretch to meet those goals, it’s a difficult reality to face.

Seeking new growth opportunities is a natural part of career development, so if you feel you’ve hit a cap on how far you can go within your company, boot up a resume builder and get started!

Seeking new challenges

Being a big fish in a small pond is a great place to be in your career … until it isn’t. If your current job isn’t challenging you and you’re growing bored, you might be tempted to take the plunge and look for a more difficult job.

While it’s important to tread carefully and make sure you’re moving up and not just to a place that’ll give you more work, this is a good reason to highlight during interviews. Recruiters will appreciate hearing about how ambitious and hard-working you are.

Desire for skill development

Another reason that might have you browsing for the right resume outline and searching for a new job is a desire to improve your skills. If your current role is starting to feel a little stale and your employer doesn’t provide the opportunity to grow, you might want to find a job that aligns with your plans.

Pursuing a different career path

Transitioning to an entirely new field is like hitting the reset button on your career, but it can open up a lot of doors. These days, the life cycle of any given skill set is shorter than ever, so your ability and wish to upskill and change paths is a great talking point at an interview.

Underscore your experiences and why you want to gain even more in your new path of choice.

Career alignment

Although some recruiters like to ask applicants about their five-year plans, it’s okay if your career plan is feeling a little outdated. You might still love the industry, but your particular job may no longer align with your goals.

If you’re looking for more room to grow, more stimulating work, or a way to improve your skills, this is also a valid reason to leave your job.

Work-Life Balance

Without proper work-life balance, even the best job in the world can feel like a slog, and this is why the reasons below are often mentioned in exit interviews.

Long commutes and work hours

Whether your job is a typical 9 to 5 or you’re doing 12-hour shifts, a long commute can take a lot of time out of your day without giving anything in return. If you’re already at work, at least you’re getting paid, but if it takes you two hours to get there and back, that time can be seen as wasted.

Similarly, if you’re regularly forced to do overtime and you come home exhausted, it makes sense that you’d want to find a job that aligns better with your life.

Moving to another location

If your job isn’t remote and life takes you in another direction, you might have to leave it behind and look for new opportunities. This can be a good fresh start, and there are many ways to spin this to your advantage during the interview.

When speaking to recruiters, underscore how relocating allowed you to embrace new challenges and perspectives.

Need for flexibility and remote work options

The pandemic brought with it a huge shift in how we, the employees, and the employers view work from home. Previously a rarity, the ability to work remotely is now a perk of many roles that used to be in office. The same applies to flexible hours.

The recent surge in going back to the office is making many people who value the WFH life re-evaluate and potentially look for new jobs.

Pursuit of a better quality of life

Few things affect our quality of life as much as our jobs. After all, you’re there for the majority of most days, so if your job has a negative impact on your life, it echoes throughout every other aspect of it.

Things like low compensation, poor work-life balance, or ill-fitting company culture can all make one long for change.

Job burnout

You loved your job and you gave it your all. You contributed to exciting projects and made an impact on your company.

And then, you might have hit a wall.

Job burnout is a real issue, and it’s difficult to come back from. A lot of factors can contribute to it, such as poor management, overworking yourself, or even just boredom.

Organizational Changes and Job Security

Sometimes, the decision to leave a job may not be entirely up to you. Restructuring, new company strategies, and being laid off or let go are all legitimate reasons for looking for a new job.

Your organization restructured

Whether you like your role or not, a shift in company strategy or ruthless budget cuts can leave you stranded without a job or in a new role that you never asked for.

The good news is that this makes the dreaded “Why are you leaving your job?” question almost bearable. Underscore how much you appreciated the things you’ve learned at your last company and move on to the future.

Laid off/Let go

Getting laid off is very common given the current job landscape, and even being let go can happen due to reasons beyond your control. It’s important to put a positive spin on this when interviewing.

If you’ve been laid off, show that you’re ready to embrace new challenges. If you’ve been let go, it’s not a bad idea to acknowledge that you’ve learned some important lessons and that you’re ready to put them to good use.

Job stability and security issues

If a company is about to have mass layoffs or restructure, there are often warning signs on the horizon well ahead of time. Similarly, the projects you’re working on may be nearing completion and you’re not sure where the job will take you next.

Wanting security is very common among job seekers, so don’t be afraid to highlight during interviews that you can see yourself at the new company for the long haul.

Workplace Environment and Culture

Studies often show that being underpaid is something many people will put up with if they love the workplace culture, but a bad manager can chase away even the most well-compensated experts.

Bad management

Poor management can rear its ugly head in many ways, such as lack of clear communication, inadequate support, and unrealistic expectations. You might also feel stuck in your role and not be given any constructive feedback.

Tempting as it may be, do not complain about bad management during job interviews—it can only hurt your prospects.

Lack of fit with company culture

Company culture is such a broad term that it can be hard to even figure out what this means, but it’s a very valid reason for leaving a job. It encompasses values, expectations, and practices that echo throughout everything you and everyone else do at the company.

If you’re feeling out of place, misunderstood, or, worse yet, mistreated, company culture might be the cause.

Seeking a positive company culture

Many of us have had the experience of being in a role where everything always needed to be done by yesterday, and positive feedback barely existed. If you’re feeling unappreciated or weighed down by the negativity at your current company, it might lead you to want to quit your job.

This isn’t a bad thing to mention during interviews—stick to the positivity. Mention that you love the energy of the new workplace and can see yourself thriving in such a positive environment.

Desire for a more collaborative team

If you’re used to working on your own or in a team that hardly ever has to team up for projects, it can start to feel a little bit lonely. Meetings, daily standups, and new management techniques can make employees feel like they’re all part of a team.

Lacking this may not be enough to push you toward the job hunt, but you can use this during interviews to underscore how much you value teamwork and being able to grow alongside like-minded coworkers.

Health, Personal Reasons, and Education

Leaving a job might sometimes be out of your hands. Alternatively, it could be dictated by things that aren’t strictly related to your career but still contribute to your growth, such as education.

Managing health issues

Some jobs may support you if you’re ever faced with health issues, but others, with limited PTO and no way to compromise, may not. Putting your health first is a common reason for quitting, and there’s no shame in wanting to get better before pursuing new opportunities.

Once you’re ready to refresh your resume outline and look for a new job, be sure to say that you’ve recovered and couldn’t be more excited to get back out there.

Personal reasons

Life can get in the way of even the best job, so leaving for personal reasons can happen. Whether it’s that you and your manager didn’t mesh at all or you needed a little time off work, the recruiter doesn’t need to know the details. Instead, focus on your growth and how ready you are to start afresh.

Family obligations

Family comes first, and work comes second—or perhaps even later. This is a healthy and often necessary approach, but conveying it to recruiters may seem scary. After all, you don’t know if your future employer shares your values yet.

If you had to quit due to family obligations, there’s no reason to hide it. However, instead of overexplaining, mention any new hobbies & skills you picked up during your time off and how you can’t wait to put them to good use.

Pursuing additional education

Out of all the reasons to leave a job, this might be the best one for recruiters to hear when you’re interviewing for your next role.

Pursuing additional education shows that you’re willing to grow, learn, and hone your skills, and all of that makes you a more valuable employee. Flaunt your new education and use it as a stepping stone toward that new job.

When Should I Quit My Job and What’s Next?

Should You Use ChatGPT to Write a Cover Letter?

Sometimes, wanting to quit your job is a gradual feeling that grows and grows until you’re finally looking up resume examples to dust off yours and find a better job.

Other times, something happens and you want to leave right now.

If you’re dealing with a toxic environment that has a bad impact on your mental health, your current job is usually beyond saving.

However, if it’s not quite as bad as that, consider a few things before leaving:

  • Consider improvements. Perhaps the wrongs can still be made right if you try to tweak your role to better align with your interests.
  • Openly ask for career growth opportunities. If your current role isn’t working out, maybe there are other options within the company.
  • Discuss opportunities for better work-life balance. If your issue lies with no WFH or you don’t like the hours, your manager might be able to work with you.
  • Ask for a raise. If compensation is the issue, present your manager with a good case for what you do for the company and try to negotiate.

If none of this helps, it’s time to look through job boards and save the listings that seem up your alley. Next, power up a resume builder, then follow it up with a resume checker and cover letter generator.

Before you quit, make sure you’re not wearing rose-tinted glasses regarding the new job. Re-evaluate the company culture, compensation and benefits, work hours, and more. It can be easy to fall victim to a case of “the grass is always greener” when you’re fed up with your job.

How to Tell Your Current Employer Your Reasons for Leaving Your Job

Four people at blue desk with yellow desktop conduct job interview

Although you may be tempted to tell your boss every single thing that was wrong with the job when you quit, it’s really better not to. The satisfaction is brief, and the price can be pretty high.

Instead of being negative, approach the conversation in an honest, but professional manner. Thank your employer for the opportunities and highlight how much you’ve learned throughout your stay at the company.

Don’t be afraid to mention a few especially meaningful career highlights. If you worked directly with your employer, it’s a good idea to thank them personally for the experience and say that it was valuable to you.

Next, focus on the transition period between your resignation letter and your final day on the job. Plan out an exit strategy that makes the transition smooth for the company.

If you depart respectfully, you’re more likely to get a good reference and a chance to come back if your career leads you back to the same company.

What Not to Give as Reasons for Leaving a Job

Overwhelmed job seeker at desk with hands in air questions how to write job materials

If there’s one thing to avoid when interviewing, it’s negativity—even if it’s warranted. Here are some things you should avoid discussing during interviews.

  • Don’t criticize the people you work with. No recruiter wants to hear that you hate your manager or your coworkers. Instead of empathizing with you for the toxic workplace you had to put up with, they’ll be wondering if one day you’ll be saying the same thing about them.
  • Don’t talk about personal disputes. Treat your former (or soon-to-be former) job as a closed chapter that you’re excited to move away from.
  • Don’t focus solely on money. It’s good to highlight other things that you care about, such as career growth or a matching company culture.

Reasons for Leaving a Job Interview Tips

Recruiters and job seekers on yellow laptops review and discuss job description requirements

Questions about the reasons why you quit your last job are some of the hardest to tackle in an interview, so make sure to come prepared with our helpful tips.

Come prepared

Before you interview, give your previous job some thought. What led you to quit and what are you hoping for out of your new role? Write this out and consider it carefully.

Next, think about the answers you’ll be giving to recruiters. You’ll have to run them through a positive filter and present them in a confident manner that leads the conversation right back to why you’re a good fit.

Be honest

The ability to be both honest and tactful is crucial in job interviews, and if the recruiter knows that you’re telling the truth about why you’re switching jobs, it’ll only reflect well on you and your character. Just remember to stick to that positivity rule we mentioned above.

Find a middle ground between telling them everything and making something up just to sound good.

Plan out the conversation

The recruiter might still ask more questions after you give them your initial explanation. Some of the follow-up questions to be ready for include:

  1. Did you try and resolve the issue before looking for another job?
  2. How would you handle this problem if you were faced with it a second time?
  3. Were there any other reasons for your departure?

Planning out the whole conversation before interviewing will help you handle being in the crossfire with a smile.

Lead the narrative

Anyone who’s ever had a terrible manager knows that it’s easy to go on and on about the situation, but in an interview, it’s crucial to be succinct. There’s no reason to give the recruiter more than they asked for; in fact, less is more here.

Answer the question in one or two sentences and then draw a connection between your departure and why you’re excited about the new position, highlighting what you can bring to the role.

Reasons for Leaving a Job FAQs

ChatGPT Cover Letter FAQs
Should you tell the interviewer why you left your job?

You will usually have to tell the interviewer why you left your job—it’s a very common question. However, you don’t have to go into any great detail. Explain your reason in a positive, respectful manner, and then lead the conversation back to why you’re the best candidate for the job.

When should I quit my job?

If you’re dealing with a toxic workplace, quit as soon as you have a job lined up—or even sooner if you can’t deal with it anymore. In most other cases, it’s a good idea to try to work things out at your current job while looking for a new role and only quit once you’ve signed a contract with your new employer.

How to answer why you are leaving your current job?

Depending on the actual reason, explain it in one or two sentences and then move on to talking about what you’ve learned and why you’re excited about new opportunities. For instance, a candidate who leaves due to no chance of growth at their current company might say:

“I learned a lot during my time with [Company Name] and the experience has been transformational for my career. However, my current role has limited opportunities for upward mobility, and I feel it’s time to challenge myself and expand my skill set. I’m excited about the possibility of bringing my experience and dedication to a new environment, where I can contribute to and grow with the team.”

How do you explain leaving a job because of bad management?

Maintain a professional demeanor and focus on the positive aspects of that decision—even though it might seem like there are hardly any. You could say something along the lines of: “While I valued the opportunities and experiences gained at my previous position, I found that I thrive best in environments driven by clear communication. I’m seeking a role where I can leverage my skills in a supportive and collaborative setting, which aligns more with my professional growth objectives.”

Should I give the reasons for leaving a job on my application?

No, there’s no need to discuss that at this stage. Focus on all your career highlights and achievements that would make the employer eager to call you; your previous job will be discussed during the interview.