How Quitting a Job Will Effect Future Employment

Quitting a job may have a range of effects on your future employment, but don't assume they'll all be negative effects. The negative image of quitting a job is overstated in the modern workplace.

It's more than a bit of an urban myth that quitting a job looks bad to other employers. It's also not some sort of natural implication that you "quit because you were going to be fired anyway".

The basics of quitting a job

People leave jobs for a lot of very good reasons:

  • Found a better job: This is the main reason for quitting. Nobody works in the same job forever. Very few people remain with an employer for more than a few years.

  • Found a better paying job: The other main reason, generally considered the best reason.

  • Got a better offer from another employer through a network: An increasingly common way of finding a better job.

  • Job was only an interim job while getting qualifications: Normal for those finishing degrees.

  • Job wasn't worth putting up with the employment conditions: The most common of all the job-based reasons for quitting. Some jobs, and some employers, turn over staff much more than others.

  • Quit because it was a dead end job: The point in this case is that not quitting would be a disaster, in career terms.

  • Job was affecting health and/or home life: A very much too common situation, and it's generally acknowledged that quitting is sometimes the only cure for this type of job.

  • Ethical reasons: Some people will resign on matters of principle. They refuse to be associated with particular forms of business practice.  

All of these are purely personal reasons, and they're generally acknowledged by employers and employment experts as pretty good reasons. The urban myth is way off the mark, at least in this century.

The other theory, that people quit before they get fired is occasionally right, but most people manage their employment better than that. At most, this is "career agility", not a form of character reference. It's generally known by the employment market and employers that people quit when it suits them, and the reasons aren't always obvious.

All of which means that you won't be judged on the basis of urban myths and gossip if you quit a job. You'll be asked about it, but you needn't think that you'll be instantly condemned on that basis. Quite the opposite, your position may become much more credible.

How you can use quitting a job for future employment purposes

We've seen how good some of the reasons for quitting a job are. You may make a very good point, or several, about your motivations for quitting and applying for jobs.

Here are a few examples:

"One of the reasons I've applied for this job is because it has everything that old job lacked, real career potential, good opportunities to get meaningful experience, and a good brand name."

"I had to leave. That job was going nowhere. I decided I had to start going for real professional-standard jobs with real career track potential."

"The business practices of the job conflicted very strongly with my professional values."

The most important point: You're being quite honest. That's why quitting isn't a major issue with employers. Nobody leaves a job for no reason.