When Dana Sinkler and Alex Dzieduszycki left their jobs at a 4-star restaurant in New York City in 1990, they had no idea of the massive success that would follow. Pursuing their passion for starting a catering business, Sinkler and Dzieduszycki took to Sinkler’s small New York kitchen. They stumbled on a chip recipe that would soon line grocery store shelves nationwide. The snack brand—Terra Chips—now has an estimated annual revenue of $72 million.
Today, more people than ever realize that the reasons for leaving a job and the decision actually to do so can be life-changing. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 4.5 million employees resigned in March 2022 alone, the highest resignations on record for reasons other than retirement.
Leaving a job, especially in pursuit of a passion, can be tremendously rewarding. It can mean a better life, improved health, more money, and a greater sense of daily joy. But why are so many feeling compelled to leave their jobs now? What’s sparked this enormous movement of resignations, and what are the top reasons for leaving a job that so many are citing?
In this article, we’ll dive further into the temperature of today’s employment landscape and why millions have restarted their job search.
- One out of every four people left their jobs in 2021 in a phenomenon referred to as the Great Resignation.
- 2022 saw historic numbers of job openings in the U.S.
- When interviewing for a new job, you should understand how to appropriately answer the question, “Why did you leave your last job?”
- A new career can help you live in alignment with your vision and purpose for your life.
What Is the Great Resignation?
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.george bernard shaw
Job resignations have been trending upward for more than a decade. Since the spring of 2021, however, employees have been resigning at an alarmingly higher rate than ever before. The Visier Insights™ Report showed that one out of every four people left their jobs in 2021. This sudden spike, referred to as the “Great Resignation,” has sparked large-scale cultural conversations about good reasons for leaving a job.
As employees have faced more hardships, company restructures, reduced hours, and health concerns, many have started re-evaluating their purpose and priorities. Before, simply having a job that paid the bills was enough. But today’s employees, especially millennials in the workplace, are raising their standards and wanting employment that doesn’t just pay the bills—they also want fulfillment, better benefits, flexible locations and schedules, and a great corporate culture.
And that’s not all.
Many employees also resign because they don’t feel heard or considered, which is one of the most common reasons to leave your job. Of 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed by Explorance, 50% reported that they had been asked for feedback from their employer in the past year. Furthermore, 45% of those surveyed said they didn’t believe their feedback would lead to meaningful change even if their employer had requested it. As a result, 41% of the 2,000 questioned admitted they were looking for a new job.
While the Great Resignation points directly at those leaving their jobs, it also means an ever-growing buffet of job opportunities for job seekers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2022 saw not only the highest number of resignations but also the highest number of job openings, with 11.55 million jobs available.
A recent work trend report by Microsoft revealed that 41% of employees globally are considering leaving their current jobs within the next year. This trend is likely to continue as employees place a higher value on health, happiness, and well-being.
Top 10 Reasons for Leaving a Job
1. Career Advancement
Obtaining a higher-level job or leadership role can often be accomplished more quickly by changing companies. This is why many employees have leaned on “job hopping” to advance their skillsets, opportunities, and salaries rather than waiting for it to happen with their current employer.
Here are some signs it’s time to advance your career:
- You’re ready for more challenges
- You’re procrastinating in your current role
- You’re displaying signs of burnout
- You’ve thought about leaving
2. Poor Work Culture
A hostile work environment can make anyone want a new job. And with more full time job openings now than ever, the temptation to ditch a job with a poor work culture is strong. If employers want to boost employee retention, culture is one of the first things to examine.
These are common symptoms of poor work culture:
- There’s high employee turnover
- Confusion and dysfunction are constants
- There are one or several toxic bosses
3. Career Change
By reconsidering career goals and passion, some employees find that they’ve gone off-track or that their interests have changed. This has prompted many to change careers entirely in pursuit of a higher salary, greater flexibility, relocation, or other reasons.
Here are some clues that it’s time for a career change:
- You feel apathetic towards your job and industry
- You don’t feel your efforts or skills are making an impact
- You often think about doing something else
4. Company Acquisition or Restructure
Your job may not be as fulfilling or enjoyable as it once was if it has just been bought by another company or is being restructured. If this is the case, as it has been for many, polishing up your resume and leaving a job may be a good choice.
5. Company Downturn
Many have hit the job search because their companies faced a sudden dip in sales or other negative events, causing the future to look bleak. In these cases, it’s better to start looking for a new opportunity soon. You don’t want to wait until the ship has “sunk” and you’re out of a full time job with no plan.
Tips for exiting your company on good terms:
- Give plenty of notice
- Continue doing your best work until your leave date
- Offer to train your replacement (if there will be one)
- Request an exit interview
Leadership dissonance is a fair reason for leaving a job. Whether it’s a difference in perspectives, direction, or opinions, or if leadership is just poor, this can impact the level of fulfillment you feel at your current job.
These are some traits of poor leadership:
- Resistance to change
- Lack of inspiration to grow or innovate
- Poor communication skills
- Failure to recognize and acknowledge great work
- Low follow-through
7. Mission and Values
Do your personal values no longer align with your company’s? Has there been a change in mission and direction that you don’t agree with? A study from Officevibe shows that 33% of employees don’t feel their personal values align with their employer’s. Yet, connecting with your company’s values is important for productivity, emotional investment, and performance. If your values aren’t a match, this can be a good reason to leave and find a job that better aligns.
Many have taken extra time to re-assess their interests, skills, and passions. Whether they’ve been laid off or had their hours reduced, they’ve used this time to ask themselves: “Is this still the job that I want to do? Am I passionate about this anymore?” For many, the answer has been “no.”
To find your passion, ask yourself:
- “What do I love?”
- “What am I good at?”
- “What does the world need?”
- “What can I be paid for?”
9. Family or Personal Circumstances
Gaps in employment often point to personal reasons for leaving a job on an application. Maybe your spouse is in the military and needs to relocate. Or maybe a parent requires caretaking, and a more flexible schedule is needed. Family or personal circumstances play a big role in the jobs we choose to take or keep. During interview questions for a new role, don’t feel pressured to share personal information. However, if you feel comfortable discussing why you wanted to leave your job, keep the explanation simple and direct.
Some other examples of circumstances:
- To spend more time with children
- To invest more time in a passion project, initiative, or mission
- For health or recovery reasons
10. Better Pay
It may not be the most important deciding factor anymore, but better pay is certainly still a huge reason many leave their jobs and find another. Experts from ADP agree that you make more money negotiating your salary with a new job than you do by staying and waiting for a raise at your current one.
How to Answer an Interview Question Like “Why Do You Want to Leave Your Job?”
During interview questions for a new position, you can expect the hiring manager to ask, “What were the reasons you left your last job?” or “Why are you leaving your current job?” It may seem nosy, but they’re asking to understand the circumstances of your departure better and also determine if there’s anything that raises concern. The key here is to answer the interview questions professionally and in an authentic way that makes them feel good about you, your reasons, and your goals.
Tips for Framing Your Response to Interview Questions
- Be clear about your reasons: Transparency and authenticity go a long way. If you’re leaving because you want a leadership position with greater reward and less oversight, say that in your cover letters or save it for the interview. Regardless, be clear about your reasons for leaving and how you think the new employer better aligns with your goals.
- Don’t overexplain: Be authentic and detailed, but be careful not to overexplain. Let the hiring manager know your reasons and why you see the new position as a good fit and leave it at that. You may loathe your current work culture and clash with your manager, but be careful not to vent or leak any hints of that in your response.
- Keep it short: Just like on a first date, your date doesn’t want to hear all about your ex. Be clear and to the point, and try to keep your response to around a minute or less.
- Maintain a positive tone: Remain light and positive throughout your entire response to hiring managers. The goal of a job interview is to make a great impression and allow your skills and professionalism to shine through.
- Consider interpretations: What we say is often different from what others hear. Keep in mind the different ways your interviewer could interpret your response. You don’t want to say anything in a way that leads them to have negative suspicions about you or your work ethic.
Example Responses to an Interview Question About Leaving Your Job:
Instead of: “I need a larger salary.”
Say: “I have demonstrated success in my field, and I’m seeking a role that better reflects my expertise both through more innovative opportunities and compensation.”
Instead of: “I’m bored with my current employer.”
Say: “I’ve spent time reflecting on my career goals and how I’d like to advance in my field, and I’ve realized that I’m ready to take on greater challenges. My current employer can’t offer me any opportunities for growth.”
Instead of: “I want to do something else.”
Say: “My current job has sharpened my skills in many areas. However, I’ve learned that I’d like to narrow down my responsibilities and focus on one specific aspect.”
Are You Living With Purpose?
Having a vision for your life allows you to live out of hope, rather than out of your fears.stedman graham
There are more opportunities today than ever for turning in your resignation letter, switching jobs, changing careers, and exploring new passions and challenges. Millions of people are resigning from their current jobs and doing just that in pursuit of something better. Despite all the career advice out there, only you can know if your reasons for leaving a job are good ones.
With any big decision, it’s always good to consult with others. So before taking the leap, talk with trusted friends, family, and colleagues. See what they think of your career goals and reasons for leaving.
Ultimately, pursuing a new career that you’ll love is all about living purposefully. Living with purpose requires having vision and intention. If you don’t have a vision and intention for what you want out of life, then your choices are guided by external rewards, which you’ll chase for the rest of your life. Living this way is like riding the waves of life without a paddle, and the current will decide your direction for you.
Take control by getting clear on the vision you want for your life. Explore how by reading “How to Create a Vision.”
Leader Media has established sourcing guidelines and relies on relevant, and credible sources for the data, facts, and expert insights and analysis we reference. You can learn more about our mission, ethics, and how we cite sources in our editorial policy.
- Owler. “Terra.”
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Job Openings and Labor Turnover–March 2022.”
- Visier. “Visier Insights Report: Stop The Exit.”
- Explorance. “Employee Feedback Survey Report.”
- Microsoft. “Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong?”
- Officevibe. “Employee Engagement Statistics From Across the Globe.”
- ADPRI. “The Geography of Recent U.S. Wage Growth.”