Creative Job Search
On-line Job Search Guide

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Reasons for Leaving

When stating why you left a job, it is important to avoid using the words "Fired," "Quit," "Illness," or "Personal Reasons." These responses may reduce your chances of being hired. Always look for positive statements to use in answering this question. If you respond with, "Will explain at the interview," you can be called on to do so. Often there are better ways to respond.


Do not use the terms "fired" or "terminated." Find a phrase that sounds neutral such as "involuntary separation." You may want to call past employers to find out what they will say in response to reference checks. When contacting past employers, reintroduce yourself and explain you are looking for a new job. Find out what they say when asked why you left their employ. Be honest that your termination hurts your chances of getting another job. Usually, past employers will agree to use the term "resigned." This response saves them potential headaches and even lawsuits.


If you quit your job, be prepared to offer an explanation. If you quit under less than favorable conditions, be sure to avoid saying anything negative about the employer. You may want to use the term "resigned" or "voluntarily separated" which implies you followed proper procedures in leaving the job. There are many positive, valid reasons why you may have quit your job and you should explain the reason on the application and/or in the interview.

Quit for a better job. This response includes: leaving for advancement potential, leaving to work closer to home, leaving for a better work environment, or leaving for a career change. If you quit for a better job, there should not be a long break in employment; your employment history should support the statement.

Quit to move to another area. In this case, you quit without having another job. You may have moved nearer to family, to an area with greater economic potential, to an area better suited for raising children, etc. Be careful not to use this reason often as it might appear you are not a dependable or stable employee.

Quit to attend school. If you use this reason, the education listed on your application and/or resume must reflect it. Preferably, your school program is consistent with your career goals. You should assure the employer any school activities will not interfere with the job.

There may be other reasons you have quit a job: took an extended vacation, did volunteer work, started your own business, raised your family. In all these cases, you need to assure the employer you are ready to assume the responsibilities of the job for which you are applying.

Laid off

If you were laid off from a job due to no fault of your own, tell the employer the circumstances of the lay off. Phrases you might want to use include: lack of work, lack of operating funds, temporary employment, seasonal employment, company closed, plant closing, company downsized, corporate merger, etc.

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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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