You probably have good reasons for wanting to change job. However, it is not always a good idea to share these with a potential new employer. Nevertheless, an explanation is generally expected. Here, we tell you what to bear in mind when answering questions about why your previous employment contract ended or why you want it to end.
Do I need to give my reasons for changing in my applications?
Your application should make it clear why you want to change jobs. Make sure you include a well-formulated and plausible reason. If you don’t, the recipient may become suspicious: Perhaps your silence on the matter means you are about to be let go or you may not get on with your boss. In short: Silence speaks louder than words and leaves room for speculation.
Focus on the new job
It may be that you are simply looking for new challenges and are leaving your previous position with your boss’s blessing. In that case, your focus will naturally be on the new job you are applying for. It shouldn’t be difficult to make a convincing case for wanting to change your job. Of course, things take on a different complexion when your reasons for leaving include dissatisfaction, disappointment or frustration. Even if your emotions are running high, you should keep them to yourself and concentrate on the positive aspects of the job you are applying for.
Are you pursuing a concrete goal in your desire to change jobs? Excellent! Make sure you communicate this clearly. If the job change is motivated by a desire to avoid problems or jump ship before you are pushed, then it will probably be more difficult to find a reason for wanting to leave that doesn’t sound like sour grapes. Focus instead on your career goals, your plans, ambitious and opportunities for development.
Don’t go there: Bad mouthing your old boss
As a general rule: Don’t say (or write) bad things about your previous employer - even if your experiences with them were negative. If you are asked what you hope to find in your new job that you did not have in your old one, try to remain factual and avoid apportioning blame. Always remember: Bad-mouthing the boss, even a previous one, is unprofessional and never comes across well to a prospective employer. At the end of the day, they will assume that the chances are high that you will say the same thing about them.
Try to avoid making digs against your previous employer - even when you don’t mean to. Read over your application to see if your dissatisfaction bubbles up between the lines. Even better, ask someone else to read your covering letter to see how your words really come across.
What if you were fired from your old job?
It is a bit harder explaining why you want to change jobs if you were fired by your previous employer rather than leaving voluntarily - unless, of course, you were made redundant. There is no shame to being made redundant and you can be open about this. If there was another reason for you being let go, then it is perhaps better not to draw too much attention to this in your covering letter. Try to shift the focus of the interview to the future. Make sure you are honest without going into to much detail if you are asked directly.
7 points to bear in mind when justifying a change in job:
- Give some thought to the reasons for your job change
- Present your motivations in a plausible manner
- Formulate your reasons positively and put them into the context of your future goals
- It must be clear why you are attracted to the new position
- Don’t try to justify yourself
- Be confident when stating your reasons for wanting to change jobs
- Avoid empty platitudes and give your personal reasons for wanting to move
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