The main reasons for leaving a job

It’s easy to tell yourself it’s time to look for a new job and you may find yourself surfing from one recruitment consultancy to another to check out current vacancies. But decisions based on a whim rarely come to anything – in our experience there’s usually a significant reason or two as to why someone will actually leave their job.

On Target conducted a poll of candidates to find out why they were leaving their jobs. It wasn’t the most scientific piece of research, but it enabled us to identify five key reasons for leaving:

1. Career development

Almost 50% of respondents said that they moved job to further their careers. And it makes sense. After all, generally speaking, we all expect to start our careers low down on the ladder, take on more responsibilities as we move up and tackle new challenges along the way. People want to grow and develop throughout their careers. If you get to the stage where there is no further potential to develop or no opportunities for promotion, it’s a legitimate reason to start searching for a new job – preferably before you get too far into feeling that you have reached a plateau. The danger here is complacency – leaving it for a long time before entering the job market could have interviewers querying your motivation.

2. Manager issues/company culture

You may love your job but you might struggle with those in higher positions. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with great leadership skills and not all companies will provide the training that might change that; it can then have a negative impact on business by driving away talented individuals who become frustrated by the quality of leadership. Similarly, it can also mean that the company culture does not recognise talent when it should be recognised and that opportunities to progress internally just don’t exist. Almost 30% of respondents cited this reason.

3. Pay progression

Salary is bound to figure, isn’t it! Money is important, there’s no getting away from that fact. But it also ties in with the desire to be valued and respected. If you are bringing in sales or achieving targets that have helped double your company’s turnover in the last 12 months that is a serious contribution that should be recognised. If a company can’t respond to positive and sustained contributions by individual employees, those companies will most likely experience a fast turnover of staff.

4. Work/life balance

This reason was cited by 10% of respondents – interestingly, the same percentage as those wanting to improve their salary. When the stress of work impacts on health or private life it’s definitely time to take stock of the situation and make some big decisions. More and more companies are taking responsibility for ensuring their staff can enjoy a healthy work/life balance. Unfortunately, not all businesses are prepared to listen to the needs or concerns of employees or to be open and flexible.

5. Boredom

When you no longer care about your job, when you no longer feel challenged or satisfied, when you are merely going through the motions day after day, you need to go. Lack of energy and motivation can be destructive, so be prepared to act on such feelings – drumming up enthusiasm in an interview will become harder and harder the longer you put off looking for a new job. Thankfully, just 3.5% of respondents claimed to leave through boredom.

It’s interesting that the reason most cited relates to job satisfaction, being challenged and the desire to do well. Money seems to be less of a factor. But whatever your reason for leaving, you should be prepared to discuss it rationally and constructively in an interview situation – it’s inevitable that you will be asked why you are looking for a new job. So make sure yours is a compelling reason that will help promote you as a strong candidate.

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