Do You Have an Exit Statement? Here’s Why You Need One

Business man sitting at desk with laptop and notepad contemplating exit statement

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

An exit statement is a brief overview of why you are in career transition & why you left your previous employment. It’s designed to answer the question of why you are searching for a job.

Now you’re probably thinking, “I know why I left my last job, my boss sucked.” Or “I quit because I wanted more pay”. These are all valid reasons for leaving, however thoughtful consideration should be taken when communicating these, as tones of anger or resentment can negatively affect a conversation.

You not only want to explain your career transition tactfully & easily, but you’ll also want to ensure you portray yourself in a positive light. Your answers could either help you get the job or keep you searching the want-ads. Spend some time thinking about and preparing your exit statement ahead of time so you can be ready with a well-crafted response.

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your exit statement:

Answer honestly

Keep your reasons truthful and upfront. But remember to keep your language softer in tone. Instead of saying “I was fired”, you could say “The company and I decided to part ways”.

Keep it brief

Your exit statement should be short and to the point. Be concise and matter of fact to keep your statement from getting too lengthy.

Focus on the positive

Share why you left without sounding angry, blaming or defensive. If you were fired, laid off or quit under negative circumstances, these can be explained in an optimistic tone.

If you were laid off, you could say:

  • “The company was being restructured and my role was affected”
  • “There was a large round of layoffs and I was one of 500 positions impacted”

If you were fired, you could say “I was let go…”:

  • “The culture at the company was not in alignment with my values.”
  • “My skillsets were not being utilized to their fullest potential.”

Using positive statement like “I’m excited for new opportunities…”, “I’m looking forward to aligning with a company that shares my values…” help to communicate your drive and willingness to get back to work.

What have you learned

Highlight what you became skilled at while at your previous employment without sounding bitter. Play up your strengths and talk about why & how you plan to move forward in a new position.

While writing your exit statement, you also have the opportunity to reflect on your past employment.  Negative feelings have a chance to be diffused. And you might find you have a new, lighter perspective on your career shift and how you feel about your previous employer. This will ultimately shine through when you are sharing the details of your transition.

Once you’ve written your exit statement, memorize and practice it. You’ll be able to use it at moments notice – in an interview, chatting with a prospective employer or a chance meeting you’re not expecting. A well-crafted & well delivered exit statement will give you the edge you need to get hired. And you’ll always be ready whenever you’re asked “So why are you looking for work?”

Written by Christine Graham