The Best (and Worst) Reasons for Leaving a Job

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What should you say to your employer when you’re leaving a job? Are you looking for a reason for leaving that you can give your boss or a prospective employer? Should you be careful about what you say? When you're moving on to a new position and applying for a new job, one of the questions you'll need to answer is why you are leaving or have left a job.

Your boss may want to know why you are resigning, and future employers will want to know why you moved on. Before you start a job search, it's a good idea to figure out what you're going to say so that your reason is consistent with your job applications and with your responses in interviews.

Here's a list of some good—and some bad—reasons for leaving your job. Being tactful will help you leave your job gracefully and remain on good terms with your soon-to-be-former employer.

Before You Decide To Resign

The decision to leave a job should be made carefully. While there are good reasons to quit a job, there are also equally valid reasons not to quit a job. It’s important to carefully think through your decision before you tell your boss. It’s much harder to undo a resignation if you change your mind than it is to make a decision to stay.

If you decide that the reasons to leave outweigh any incentives you have to stay, it's important that you be prepared to present your decision as a positive one. 


Watch Now: 8 Good Reasons to Quit Your Job

The Best Reasons for Leaving a Job

Millions of people quit their jobs each month, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons for doing so. You may want to explain your reasons in your resignation letter, but you’re not obligated to provide an explanation. 


Especially if you’re leaving under difficult circumstances, it may be best to simply share the fact that you’re resigning and give notice of the last day you’ll be working.

In certain cases, you may be asked to list your reasons for leaving a job on job applications, and you will probably be asked during interviews why you left your last job or are leaving your current job.

Regardless of the reason you’re moving on, be careful about how you describe your reason for leaving, and be sure it’s a positive one.

Here are some reasons you can use when you need to explain why you left or are leaving a job.

Career Change

Many people who choose to leave their current position are simply looking for a career change:

  • I am leaving because I want to make a career change from my current industry to a different one.
  • I feel as if I’ve developed as much as I can in my current role, and I am now seeking new opportunities for career growth.
  • I am ready to explore a new trajectory on my career path.
  • Although I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to work for you, I’ve been offered my dream job by another company.
  • I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree.

Organizational Restructuring

Difficult situations within an employee's team or organization can be a signal for them to move on. Here are examples of what to say when there are organizational changes:

  • Changes at my company have proven to be difficult to navigate, and my team’s overall morale and productivity have declined, so I think it’s time to explore new options.
  • Company cutbacks have meant that I’m working with a team a third of its original size.
  • My company downsized, which meant that—because of my lack of seniority—I was one of the employees whose contracts they terminated.
  • My company was restructured, and my department was eliminated.
  • The company I worked for went out of business.
  • My last job was outsourced abroad.
  • Several other employees and I were laid off after an economic downturn.

Better Opportunity

Sometimes, a better opportunity simply comes along or you’re pivoting your life in a different direction. It’s fine to say that:

  • I’ve been offered a great opportunity to work for a company located closer to my family.
  • Your company has such a good reputation and offers such wonderful opportunities that I’d leave my current employer in a heartbeat.
  • I landed a higher-paying job.
  • I’m leaving the workforce.
  • I’m planning on retiring. 
  • I’m looking for a new challenge.
  • I would be happier with a job that offered me more responsibility.
  • I’ve been offered a permanent position.
  • I’m relocating to the opposite coast.
  • My previous job was only seasonal/temporary, and now I am looking for full-time work.
  • I have plans to travel for the foreseeable future.

Family Circumstances

Work is important, but it isn't the only important thing in life. Family or health issues are common reasons people leave their jobs. You don’t need to provide the details:

  • An illness in the family required that I give up my job to become a primary caregiver.
  • I had to leave my position because of family circumstances.
  • My previous job didn’t allow for the flexible schedule I needed to care for my children.
  • I’m planning on moving out of state.
  • I won’t be returning to work after maternity leave because I’ve decided parenting is a full-time job.

The Job Wasn’t the Best Fit

In some cases, a job wasn’t a good fit for your professional or personal circumstances:

  • The position wasn’t a match for my career goals.
  • I’m looking for a shift to a position that better matches my educational background.
  • My hours were reduced, and I needed a full-time job.
  • There were limited growth opportunities at my former company.
  • The commute to work was too long.

The Worst Reasons for Leaving Your Job

Even if they are true, there are some reasons you shouldn't use to explain why you are looking for a different job. Sharing these reasons for your departure would not reflect well on you because they may raise questions in a hiring manager’s mind: 

  • I’m about to get fired.
  • I was arrested.
  • It was a bad company to work for.
  • I was bored at work.
  • I didn't get along with my co-workers.
  • I didn't like the job.
  • I didn't like the schedule.
  • I hated my boss.
  • The job was too difficult.
  • I was let go for harassment/tardiness.
  • My parents/family members made me quit.
  • I didn’t have good transportation to work.
  • Overtime was required.
  • I was passed over for promotions.
  • I was suffering through a rocky marriage.


It's not a good idea to bad-mouth your past jobs, bosses, colleagues, or companies—or to share too much personal information. Keep it positive when you’re resigning and when you’re discussing your resignation with prospective employers.

Make Sure the Reasons Match

You could be leaving your current position for professional reasons (a better job, career growth, or a flexible schedule, for example) or for personal reasons (leaving the workforce, family circumstances, or going back to school, for example). Or you could simply hate your job or your boss (but don't say that).

But one thing to keep in mind is that the reason you give a prospective employer should match what your previous employers would say if they are contacted for more information about you.


It's a red flag to a hiring manager if the reason you give for leaving doesn't match the answer your past employers give when they check your references.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Ask for a Job Back After Quitting for Personal Reasons?

If you left your former job in good standing—meaning that you didn't burn any bridges on your way out—you may be able to get your old job back. Reach out to your former colleagues or supervisors and inquire about any job openings, even if they aren't exactly the same position you had before. 

How Much Notice Do I Need to Give When I’m Quitting a Job?

In most cases, it's standard practice to give your employer two weeks' notice when quitting your job. This time frame is generally considered to be long enough for you to wrap up any loose ends and work on transitional items and for your employer to plan for your absence.

How Long Does Health Insurance Last After Quitting a Job?

After losing or quitting your job, you may be eligible to keep your health insurance for up to 18 months through COBRA. COBRA is a federal law that may allow you to continue your employee health insurance for a limited time; however, you will be responsible for paying the full cost along with any administrative fees.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Job Openings, Hires, and Total Separations by Industry, Seasonally Adjusted."

  2. CareerOneStop. “Job Applications.”

  3. "If You Lose Job-Based Health Insurance."

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