Focus on the positive.
Even the most experienced job seeker can be uncomfortable when asked, why are you leaving your current employer? Don’t be uncomfortable, be excited! You’ve just been given an opportunity to showcase your professionalism and define your career goals.
When you speak negatively about your current employer you’re missing an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition. Think everyone knows not to badmouth their employer? Think again. Many highly qualified job seekers take themselves out of the running for a great new job because they can’t pass up the opportunity to speak negatively about their boss or current employer. When you speak negatively, one of two things happens:
- At best you look like someone who lacks loyalty or can’t embrace constructive criticism.
- At worst someone who is unqualified for their current position, falling short of expectations and upset with the consequences.
However, this question is a wonderful opportunity to stand out and shine in the interview process. Preparing for the question ahead of time allows you to be honest and candid, without speaking negatively about your current or former employer.
What are interviewers really asking?
When a potential new employer asks why you’re leaving your current job, they’re really hoping to learn more about you, how you handle difficult situations and what you do and don’t like in a job. How you answer conveys much more than the why you’re leaving, it lets a potential new employer know if you’re loyal, reasonable and allows them to evaluate your values. People leave jobs for very good reasons all the time and interview preparation with your recruiter allows you to give potential new employers a great reason for leaving that highlights your positive qualities and skill set.
So how should you answer?
The key to responding to why you’re leaving your current job is to be honest and make your answer about self-improvement. Never answer in such a way that makes it look like you are leaving a bad company and bad boss. Instead, emphasize the positive and deemphasize the negative. It’s ok to say the commute is too long, you want to relocate or you took time off to have a family. It’s never ok to say you dislike your boss, aren’t making enough money or you don’t like your job.
But, what if one of those things is true? Here are a few examples of how to turn a negative into a positive.
I don’t like my boss.
A Gallup poll cited by the Wall Street Journal states almost 50% of people leave their current job “to get away from their manager,” proving the adage people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. So, what should you say if your current manager isn’t living up to your expectations? “The leadership style wasn’t a good fit for me. I’m looking for a company that embraces collaborative communication.” Focus on the future and define your expectations for your next career move.
There is nothing wrong with looking for a new job to increase your salary, however don’t make your answer solely about money. Instead, “I’m looking for an opportunity that values my skill set more.”
“I’ve reexamined my career goals and I’m looking for an opportunity that more closely aligns with my future plans.” Talk about what excites you about this opportunity and how your goals closely align with your potential new employer’s expectations.
One of the most common reasons an employee leaves is because they don’t see any opportunity for growth with their current employer. Avoid negatively characterizing your current employer and focus on the future. “I’m ready for my next challenge and looking for a place to grow.”
I’m not looking for a new job.
When opportunity knocks, you should answer. If one of our expert recruiters reached out to you about a job that sounds like a great fit and you’re intrigued, it’s fine to say so. “I wasn’t actively looking for a new job, but I was approached by a recruiter about this opportunity, it sounds like a great fit and I’m excited to learn more about it.”
Why are you leaving your current job is an opportunity in disguise. By focusing on the positive and the future, you can talk more about what you want. It’s a chance to set your expectations of your future employer and standout from your competition. Leaving your job for a reason we haven’t discussed? No problem, drop us an email and we’re happy to help you figure out how to focus on the positive.