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Job Interviews: Don't Want to Share Your Reason for Leaving?

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by Mark Smith

about 2 years ago

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RFL is internal lingo at people2people for 'reason for leaving'. You will see it scribbled onto the resumes of everyone who has ever met one of our recruitment consultants. During the interview, consultants spend quite a bit of time investigating why it is that someone has chosen to leave – or is considering a move away from – their existing employer. There are a few reasons we ask this, but probably the most important is that it is one of the first questions employers (our clients) will ask. Understanding the motivation behind leaving a job can reveal a lot of information that can be used in making sure the next move is the right (or better) one. Unfortunately, in many circumstances, job seekers are reluctant to share this important information. 

Indeed, they often feel threatened or believe the question is confrontational. This assumption is entirely wrong, and not sharing – or, worse still, lying about the reason for leaving – may mean making the wrong decision with your next career move. Your consultant is driven to find the best talent for the opportunities for which they are recruiting. To find the best fit, understanding the motivations for leaving your current role is essential. If describing your reason for leaving makes you feel uncomfortable or has an emotional context, then this is not a reason to withhold the information. Remember, your consultant wants to find the best fit; they are not asking the question to make you feel uncomfortable or elicit an emotional response. What they want to know is the facts. 

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The advice I give all job seekers I represent is to explain exactly what happened and not the emotions around the reason for leaving. Let me give you an example. Say you want to leave because you don't have a good working relationship with your boss (a common RFL). 

Put simply, you don't like him/her. You may tell your mates at the pub that he or she is a [your swear word of choice], which is the emotional response you want to avoid during an interview. Instead, tell your recruiter what happened. It might be that your boss tells rather than asks you to complete tasks. It might be that they don't offer flexibility when you have a sick child. These are facts that are very useful for a recruiter. If they know that you want a cordial environment with workplace flexibility but a particular role requires long hours and offers little flexibility, then they will be able to consider you for different roles. 

By explaining what happened rather than the emotions that caused you to leave your job, you are better placed to avoid the situation again. A final note and a pet hate of mine regarding reasons for leaving. Career progression is NOT a reason for leaving. It's a sentence that states the bleeding obvious. A better way to think about this is why your existing employer cannot offer the career progression you seek or require. Maybe they are too small, so you need a bigger company. Maybe you want exposure to industries that your existing employer doesn't have access to. 

That's the real reason you want to leave, not the fact that you want career progression. So, happy job hunting, and remember that collaborating with your recruiter by sharing your motivations for change will give you a much better outcome than not sharing them at all.

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