Why Competent People Quit

Would you believe that in this rather tough economic climate, I have now personally heard from no less than three people in the last two days who have quit their jobs? I might add that in all three situations, these people are competent professionals who don’t quit employment easily or often. So what’s going on out there? I know that all three individuals read my posts, and rest assured I won’t be giving away your identities or exposing you to the minions of the internet! However, there are some lessons to be learned and some truths to be exposed in all three situations.

All three situations have some relevant and critical features that link them together, but the most striking is that in every case they related their concerns to the right people instead of just announcing that they were quitting out-of-the-blue. In other words, there was a chance in all three situations that by bringing attention to significant problems, all three might have retained their positions if change had come about. Unfortunately, there were no significant changes, and each person decided to move on.

In two of the three situations, the jobs that people quit were ones that they had recently accepted. Didn’t these two do their homework? Didn’t they know what they were walking into? In fact they did do some research, but it turned out that the jobs they were promised differed from the ones presented by the employer at the interview stage. No amount of planning, research, and preparation could have prepared them for a significant change in hours, the job description, the location etc.

In one of the situations, the person resigned from a job to take the new position. After three weeks on the job the employer actually cut the position itself, but retained the employee creating a new position that differed substantially from the original agreement that prompted the person to leave their former employer! The result: this person told me that they felt they were doomed to fail in the new position because they were honest enough to admit they didn’t have the skills required to perform that job at a high level. Remarkably, this person opted for the high road and resigned.

Another factor involved the attitude of the person to whom the employee reported to; something impossible to gauge with just an interview. Predictably leading to a history of high turnaround for the position. Sooner or later the company’s management is going to be forced to draw the conclusion that it isn’t the applicants that are the problem, but the supervision they are receiving. However, management is often blind to their own failings.

Aside from being competent employees with personal ethics, skills and self-motivation, they are all professionals. Each of them will, if they include the positions on their future resumes, have to explain why they resigned and opted to look for work elsewhere. What will they say? I can tell you that all three will refrain from bad-mouthing the previous employers while at the same time being honest.

Where is the fairness in leaving a position for clearly justifiable reasons and being forced to trust that the new employer believes your story. That, “You’ve got to believe me” feeling is unfortunate, but the employer doesn’t HAVE to believe you do they? There are some people out there who quit jobs for very poor reasons. From the view of the new employer, they have the unenviable job of discerning which of the two you are; the disgruntled applicant who quit with poor justification or the applicant who quit their last job for reasons that were entirely justified.

When speaking of why you resigned from a position, be honest, succinct and keep calm and in control as you are speaking. Your answer or reply should also end on a positive note. Any feelings of anger, revenge, and although it’s a strong word – hate, should be reined in. In fact, doing a mock interview with a professional to answer this one specific question is a good idea. The question, “Why did you leave your last position?” or possibly even, “How would you describe your previous employer?”

Crafting an answer that is honest, doesn’t belittle the previous employer, and shows your professionalism, ethics, reasoning and good judgment is going to serve you well.

By: Kelly Mitchell, BA
Guest Blogger

For more of Kelly’s blog, visit:


employment CC BY-SA LaurMG.

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One Response

  1. Peggy June 17, 2013

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