Lost In Translation: Your reason for leaving

Lost In Translation: Your reason for leaving

Any recruiter is going to want to know your reasons for leaving your last employer.

Any vague responses, inconsistencies, over-complicated reasoning, or too simplified e.g. “I want a new challenge”, without solid justification, are not going to get you through.

So why do they want to know?

Yes they want to understand your motivations. Whether they can help them achieve their own goals and those of the organisation, that they, in turn, are met by the role on offer.

Yet they also want to undercover any underlying issues. Using their detection skills to drill down and weed out any inconsistencies and potential ‘management problems’, ‘under-performers’ or ‘poor performers’. Can they trust you?

I am not suggesting that all candidates lie about why they are looking for employment. Some of the time, under the banner of absolute honesty, they give too much personal information away which has no relevance in the assessment of their skills. This is just as damaging.

The real issue here is that if the recruiter pulls apart a poorly prepared or presented response which highlights inconsistency, or, aren’t convinced or don’t understand, the result is the same. You will not progress further.

It is your choice what to disclose. I would only focus on an issue if it were essential to your ability to do the next role or accept it in the first place.

It is important to strip the reason down to its most basic facts and de-personalise it where possible.

I’m not recommending you use any of the following reasons for leaving, just give you some food for thought on how some of those reasons I frequently hear could be interpreted:

Reason:           Lack of support – Too much to do

Possible interpretation:            Will not be able to cope with the workload in this position?

Tips:                 Quantify. One person’s idea of busy is not the same as another. Give real examples; “We were inputting 100 invoices a week and now it’s 250 plus” “There were three people employed to cover this position initially and now it is just me with no decrease in volume”

Reason:           Lack of Support – Bad Management

Possible interpretation:            Could be trouble and /or a management problem? Could find things difficult to cope with? Bad communicator? Had issues with management over their own performance? Managed out of the business?

Tips:                 This reason of course has its extremes. You may have been bullied or harassed, simply not liked, felt you were given no real direction or not even had a direct manager. Make sure you do not make the issue you had ‘personal’, focussing on personality traits, historical information and /or examples of another’s unreasonable behaviour. It is easy to fall into the trap of giving justifications and looking for validation of your own actions. This is impossible for the recruiter as every instance is subjective. It can, therefore, come across as unprofessional. Instead you must concentrate on the style of management you would prefer. For example; “I would prefer regular team meetings for communication” or “I would like more autonomy in my next position” or “What performance management systems are in place, do you for instance have annual appraisals?”

Reason:           Lack of Support – I.T systems / Tools

Possible interpretation:            A bad workman always blames his tools? Is this a good enough reason to leave a role? What opportunity have they given the organisation to improve things? Have they even made their employer aware of the issues they face in their position as a result?

Tips:                 Quantify again. Show the amount of extra time taken to complete tasks in the current situation. Make sure you demonstrate what steps you have taken to resolve issues internally. Explain why you are frustrated, your drive to do more, be more efficient and results motivation.

Reason:           Lack of Support – Development

Possible interpretation:            Do they want to progress too quickly? Have they got ambitions above their ability? Are their timescales for development in line with what we could give them? Could we give development in this post? Can we keep them interested? Would they be bored to easily in the role? Are they prepared to do the more repetitive tasks the role has? What have they done to try to develop themselves in their current company?

Tips:                 Talk about what interests and excites you about the organisation and role on offer. Try to show how you feel it could add to your skill set. For example; different industry exposure, more scope in the duties or department, study on offer and why it’s of value to you. In addition, show how you have grown in your current role and why you feel you have mastered certain areas. Explain how you have approached your current boss with requests to take on more.

With so many common reasons there is a lot of ground to cover so in my next post we’ll take a look at some more including Redundancy, Change, Money, Management and Flexibility.

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Sarah Cooper has over 14 years Recruitment experience gained in both an internal and agency environment. As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy Ltd, specialist Finance and HR Recruiters, she is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today. Follow her tweets @approachmarket

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