Reasons for Leaving a Job

Leaving Your Job? Reasons You Should and Shouldn't Give

Businessman at crossroads
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Are you looking for a reason for leaving your job to give your boss or a prospective employer? Should you be careful about what you say? When you're moving on to a new position and applying for a new job, one of the questions you'll need to answer is why you are leaving or have left a job. Your boss may want to know why you are resigning and future employers will want to know why you moved on.

You may, in certain cases, be asked to list reasons for leaving on job applications, and you will probably be asked why you left or are leaving your current job during job interviews.

Before you start a job search, it's a good idea to figure out what you're going to say, so your reason is consistent with your job applications and in interviews.

Here's a list of some good, and some bad, reasons for leaving your job. Also, review these tips for leaving your job graciously while remaining on good terms with your soon-to-be previous employer.

Good Reasons for Leaving a Job

These reasons all work extremely well because they are all legitimate reasons an employee can decide to move on to a new position. Also, take a look at examples of resignation letters that explain these circumstances.

A - F

  • Career change
  • Career growth
  • Changes at company
  • Change in career path
  • Company cutbacks
  • Company downsized
  • Company restructured
  • Company went out of business
  • Dream job offer
  • Family circumstances
  • Family illness
  • Family reasons
  • Flexible schedule

G - M

  • Getting married
  • Going back to school
  • Great opportunity
  • Health reasons
  • Hours reduced
  • Illness
  • Job wasn't a good fit
  • Job was outsourced
  • Good career opportunity
  • Good reputation and opportunity at the new company
  • Laid off
  • Landed a higher paying job
  • Leaving the workforce
  • Limited growth at company
  • Long commute
  • Looking for a new challenge

N - Z

  • Needed a full-time position
  • New challenge
  • New job
  • Not compatible with company goals
  • Not enough hours
  • Not enough work or challenge
  • Not returning from maternity leave
  • Offered a permanent position
  • Personal circumstances
  • Personal problems
  • Personal reasons
  • Pregnancy
  • Position eliminated
  • Position ended
  • Relocating
  • Reorganization or Merger
  • Retired early
  • Retiring
  • Schedule conflict
  • School
  • Seasonal position
  • Seeking a challenge
  • Seeking more responsibility
  • Staying home to raise a family
  • Summer job
  • Temporary job
  • Travel

Bad Reasons for Leaving Your Job

Even if they are true, there are some reasons you shouldn't use to explain why you are looking for a different job. It's not a good idea to bad-mouth your past jobs, bosses, colleagues, or companies or to share too much personal information. Sharing these reasons for your departure would not reflect positively on you, since they raise automatic questions in a hiring manager’s mind. 

  • About to get fired
  • Arrested
  • Bad company to work for
  • Bored at work
  • Childcare issues
  • Didn't get along with co-workers
  • Didn't like the job
  • Didn't like the schedule
  • Didn't want to work as many hours
  • Didn't want to work evenings or weekends
  • Hated my boss
  • Hated my job
  • Injured
  • Job was too difficult
  • Let go for harassment
  • Let go for tardiness
  • Manager was stupid
  • My boss was a jerk
  • My mom made me quit
  • No transportation
  • Overtime was required
  • Passed over for promotion
  • Rocky marriage

Make Sure the Reasons Match

You could be leaving your current position for professional reasons (better job, career growth, flexible schedule, for example) or for personal reasons (leaving the workforce, family circumstances, going back to school, etc.).

Or, you could simply hate your job or your boss, but never say that. Here's more information on resigning from a job for personal reasons.

One thing to keep in mind is that it's important that the reason you give a potential employer matches what your previous employers are going to say should they be contacted for more information about you. It's a red flag for a hiring manager if the reason you give for leaving doesn't match the answer your past employers give when they check your references.

What Else You Need to Know

The decision to leave a job should not be made lightly. While there are good reasons to quit a job, there are also equally valid reasons not to quit a job. Should you in fact decide that the reasons to leave are greater than any incentives you have to stay, then being prepared to present your decision as a positive one is essential. Here’s more information about listing reasons for leaving on a job application.