By Perminus Wainaina
What would cause you to leave your dream job?
You have been sending CVs for months without any success. Finally, you get an interview call for your dream job. The salary is great, the company is reputable, and you have an opportunity to grow your career.
The interview process goes on smoothly, you resign from your current job and you’re full of excitement, ready to start your dream job.
What happens, though, when your dream job turns into a nightmare?
Simon, an accounting professional got a job four months ago. He was very excited and he planned on staying with the company for at least five years and advance his career to a managerial level.
During a conversation with a fellow employee, he discovered the company has been falsifying its financial reports to file lesser taxes.
Simon is afraid of what could happen if the news of the company’s fraudulent business got out. While’s he’s been with the company for barely four months, he sees resigning as his best career move. He is, however, afraid that resigning will hurt his career, and future employers might view him as a job hopper.
I interview a lot of senior professionals, and job-hopping is one of the major concerns they have. Some have stuck with jobs they should have left, simply because they didn’t want to be seen as job hoppers. A job hopper is someone who moves from one position to another after a short while. Most employers are cautious about hiring job hoppers as they think the employee won’t stay.
Should Simon leave his job, and are there instances when leaving is the right career move?
Here are the top valid reasons to leave a job.
1. The employer refuses to meet the agreed terms
When you get the job, the employer has key performance indicators (KPIs) that show if you’re productive or not. These KPIs are in most cases what employers look at during the probation period. If you are performing, you are confirmed as a permanent employee.
In some cases, employers agree to review or change the terms once you are confirmed. If they fail to honor the agreement, you are justified to leave.
Some of the common terms include;
Salary – some employers agree to review your salary upwards after you are confirmed. If they refuse to increase your salary as per the agreed terms, you can leave as the employer is in breach of contract.
Benefits – Some of the privileges employees benefit from include medical cover, pension, allowances, etc. If the employer fails to stick to what was agreed upon, you have justification to leave the organization.
Tools of trade – Certain tools help you perform your tasks at work. In sales, for example, you can be provided with transport costs to meet with clients and prospectives. Should the employer fail to provide you with the required tools, you can leave the organization.
2. The business engages in illegal businesses
If you knew the organization you’re working for is dealing in illegal business, would you leave? Would you report them? Or, would you continue working there as though nothing ever happened?
If you continue working there, you could lose your license to practice if you’re a lawyer, doctor, HR or even accountant. You could also be imprisoned if you’re found to have helped –directly or indirectly, in the illegal dealings.
Furthermore, future employers may refuse to hire you simply because you worked in a company that had fraudulent dealings. If you find out your employer is involved in an illegitimate business, the best and professional thing to do is leave. You don’t want to have a tainted reputation by being associated with a certain company.
While ideally, you should also report the business to the authorities, that is a personal and moral decision you have to make yourself.
3. Unethical or immoral practices
Some of these unethical practices include tribalism, racism, sexual harassment, corruption, psychological abuse, nepotism, etc.
Whether these immoral practices affect you directly or indirectly, they will have an impact on your career. I know of a professional who was denied a position in a multinational company simply because of where they worked. The multinational company said they could not bring on board a professional who had worked for over ten years with a company known for racism.
In Simon’s case, he’s worried about leaving because of what future employers will think of him.
“What will I say when asked why I left after such a short time?” asks Simon.
An interview is the only place you can explain why you left an organization after a short time. Your answer could be the deciding factor between you getting a job or missing out.
So, if you leave a company after a few months because of the reasons mentioned above, what should you answer if asked during an interview? Here are a few practical tips.
- Tell the truth– always stick with telling the truth. Don’t create a story or tell something that didn’t happen. The employer could find out when they’re running a background check or when you’re already working. Lying or creating your own stories will always come back to hurt your career.
- Don’t overshare– you may be tempted to tell the whole story about why you left. However, you want to be professional and stick to the most relevant bits of the story. When answering the question, politely decline to get into details.
For example, you can say, “After I joined the company, I was victimized over my race. I felt like I could not thrive and decided to leave.”
In this example, you’re not only truthful, but you did not go into unnecessary details.
Ultimately, you need to work in a conducive environment where you can thrive. If continuing to work in a company –whether you joined a month ago or not, will interfere with your career or personal wellbeing, you can leave and look for a more fitting job.
Also, remember to research a company before you agree to join. Yes, we are in tough times and getting a job is no easy task. However, you would rather continue looking than be in a job where you’ll be forced to leave after a few months.
If you’re in a company where you’re unsure if you should leave, seek advice from family, your friends, a career coach, or professionals who can be objective.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.