Should I tell a potential employer why I am leaving my current employer?
in Careers Advice, CV Writing, Interviews, Job Applications

Should I tell a potential employer why I am leaving my current employer?

In most cases, the answer to this is no, absolutely not.

This is because the overwhelming number of people leaving employers is due to either a personality clash, a perception that they are poorly paid and can get better money elsewhere. or unpleasant working conditions.

Negative information during interviews

One of the main tenets of interview technique is to try and be positive at all times and avoid any negatives. Getting into a conversation about how evil your former employer was towards you, is not going to stand you in good stead for the remainder of the interview and you will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Similarly, a diatribe about an awkward secretary causing your life misery is perhaps going to demonstrate to a new employer that you are not an easy person to work with and definitely not somebody they want in their organisation.

Keep it positive

In fact, the only reasons for leaving a job I can think of that you would want to raise during interview would be that you feel it’s time to go to pastures new, you’re excited by the prospects offered by the potential new employer or you are relocating due to family circumstances changing.

The same applies to your CV. We see a lot of CVs that include reasons for leaving former roles. And we often skim through these CVS to see what all the reasons are rather than to actually see what work somebody did during their time at an employers.

This is because we are skim reading for interesting information on your CV. And if you include a reason every time you leave a firm it does make interesting reading, particularly if some of these reasons include personality clashes, the company going bankrupt whilst you were working there, or one of the partners being arrested and the firm closing down.

Your new employee does not need to know these reasons at all. All it does is reinforces any negative perceptions they may hold about you rather than looking at all the positives as to exactly what you can do and bring to the firm.

Suggested answer

if you’re asked the question why you are leaving we would strongly recommend giving as vague an answer as possible; whether this is to say you are looking because it’s time for a change. or you’re excited by the new prospects offered by the firm or you have been with your current employer for a long time and you want to progress your career elsewhere, this would be the way to deal with the question and not to enter into exact detail as to why you are leaving if there are any negatives involved.

So, in summary, do not tell anybody the reasons why you are planning to leave a role unless it is sufficiently vague or positive enough so as to not have any effects on the potential employer.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.ten-percent.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk