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What reasons do you usually give when you are looking for a change to your prospective employer/recruitment consultants?

  1. I need a change, which is basically this question but here, I am asking it more specifically as a response to the recruitment consultants.

  2. I am interested in working in .NET 4.0 but my current organization is still stuck on VB6.0

  3. I am working in the Telecom sector and I want to move to the Financial Sector.

  4. ...

The above are more or less responses that either some of my friends (including me) have given or we have heard.

What would you classify as a definite NO NO reason?

More importantly, what would you classify as an acceptable reason?

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closed as off topic by Adam Lear Oct 29 '11 at 19:31

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What are your reasons? The truth is normally fine. – Jon Hopkins Nov 12 '10 at 16:35
@John, +1: absolutely true. Honest people ftw, but if it's kindof a bad reason, do try to pad it with why you think it's good. – Stephen Furlani Nov 12 '10 at 16:47
+1. As the author of the "needing a change" post: it's awesome to have a real reason like your VB6 thing! In my case, my current job actually looks great on paper, and I purely need a sabbatical and a change of scenery. :) Anyway, it's mostly about positive spin, and about not trashing your current/former employers. replied – Bobby Tables Nov 12 '10 at 20:47
General career questions are no longer on-topic here. – Adam Lear Oct 29 '11 at 19:31

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Those are all valid reasons. While I'm not a recruiter, those are the kinds of things that when I told them to a recruiter, got more positive responses.

Here are some bad reasons:

  1. I hate my boss
  2. I hate my coworkers
  3. I didn't like the project management tools we used
  4. I got fired (phrase this better... if you can)

Other good reasons:

  1. Prior position didn't allow me to improve my skillsets
  2. Looking to move up or across, but old job didn't have openings
  3. Some markets (like medicine and the FDA) do have serious hurtles, looking to move out of that kind of industry may make sense.
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4. I was laid off due to budget cuts, or project cuts or something or if it is personal your best bet might just be to minimize it as much as possible. (or lie about it if you must lol) And if your on good terms with the previous employer be sure to throw that in there. – Terrance Dec 7 '10 at 17:57

Some more random ones:

  • I want to be at the forefront of technology X or software development practice Y.
  • I love the idea of the culture of a start up/vendor/consultancy etc, and I'd like to experience it.
  • I want to work with the pioneers in my field
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Good reasons to state:

  • That you want something different from your previous employers. The key here is that you are stating a preference rather than putting down where you work. For example, you could work in an organization that uses Waterfall methods and you'd like experience with Agile methods. Perhaps you want to work at a bigger/smaller company than where you currently are is another idea here. Saying that you outgrew a place would be an example of something that may not go over well, just to give an example of going too far here.

  • If you are applying directly for a job and not through a recruitment firm, you could look for various reputation points about the company and mention some of those. For example, some places may have Social Responsibility policies that really resonate with you, or use a specific stack that appeals to you. This of course isn't so great with a recruiter as they may just want to be categorizing you to some extent.

Bad reasons to state:

  • Putting down any of your former boss, co-workers, or employer. This may make a potential employer wonder what you'd say about their flaws and thus be likely to not hire you.

  • Using any questionable language, which would include any form of hate speech such as racial slurs or profanity that may cause an eyebrow or two to rise. If every second word in the reason is an F-bomb, then you may have problems getting hired in most places.

I'd be careful about how the reason is stated as this can also send various signals. One could say they want something more Agile than where they are in a way that is overly emotional and containing too many overtones. An example would be to say something conveying, "There is this awesome thing called Agile, that will save my sanity as I'm about to lose it here. Where I work now we use this worthless piece of crap known as Waterfall, which really does suck in a major way." Trying to use a Ben Stein-like monotone voice that is flat wouldn't be a great idea either as there should be some change in tone over the course of stating the reason so that you don't seem overly boring.

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Definite NO NO: Anything "directly negative" about your current employer.

For example - try to frame your interest in new technologies as a positive, forward-looking reason for moving on, rather than as a negatively-framed "my current employer sucks and is keeping me stuck on crappy old VB6".

In that sense, I think it's more about the delivery than the reasons themselves.

Also, as other have said, never have a go at your current employers on a personal level in the interview. The way I think of this one is: imagine if your old employer was present in the interview in spirit - would they see the way you're talking about them as venomous, as "burning a bridge", or as a neutral/positive reasonable reason for why you'd be wanting to move on to something new.

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Well said: you want to come across as saying that the company you're interviewing at is different and better, not that your current employer is bad, per se. – Carson63000 Nov 14 '10 at 6:13
+1 And if you feel that you need to vent your "directly negative" feelings, keep it to your close friends and not potential new employers. If you're found to slander your previous employer, you will be red flagged as a liability. The rationale for this is if you thought your last employer sucked then you'll most likely find your new job to suck as well. – Spoike Dec 30 '10 at 6:02

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