Interview Question: "Why Are You Looking for a Job?"
- Interviewers ask this question to understand your goals and motivations.
- They might also ask to determine whether you’re leaving your previous job on good terms.
- Offer positive, opportunity-oriented reasons including ways the new role better with your professional goals.
During an interview, you may be asked, “Why are you looking for a new job?” In your answer, interviewers are looking for a few key pieces of information. They are probably curious about how much thought you’ve put into starting your job search, why this specific job opportunity is appealing to you and what you’re looking for in your next position.
Potential employers can learn a lot about you and whether you’re a good fit from your answer to this question, so it’s smart to plan your response in advance. They will be listening for any red flags that may come up. For example, how do you handle conflict resolution? Are you likely to leave shortly after you’re hired? How have you contributed to the situation you’re looking to leave? In particular, they may become concerned if you say negative things about your former employer, wondering if you would, in turn, also say negative things about them one day.
To make a good impression, focus on the positive reasons for why you’re leaving your current job and looking for something new. This is a great opportunity to emphasize your skills and abilities, and why you’re looking for a situation where you can use and improve them.
Related: How to Ace Your Final Interview
Example reason you may be looking for a job and response analysis
Let’s look at an example of a good answer to this question, and how to use it to approach your own answer in an interview:
“I’ve been refining my project management skills with volunteer opportunities and side projects, and I received my PMP last quarter. I’m looking for an opportunity where I can put those abilities to work for a mission I’m passionate about. I was also excited to read in the job description that this role will require regular presentations to key stakeholders—one of my key motivators is the ability to connect with colleagues and communicate my team’s work, so this is an especially exciting part of this opportunity.
Ultimately, I’ve learned a lot in my current role, but I’m looking for the next step where I can continue to grow and use the skills I’ve honed at a company I love, and this opportunity seems to be a great fit.”
This is a good answer for several reasons. Here are some insights to help you understand why this is a strong response and what a good answer would look like for you:
Focus on your skills
In the example, the candidate opens their answer by mentioning skills and abilities. This can be a good opportunity to talk about what differentiates you from other candidates. This includes any extra work you’ve done, projects you’re proud of or even extra education you’ve completed that shows the value you’ll bring to their team:
“I’ve been refining my project management skills with volunteer opportunities and side projects with other teams, and I received my PMP last quarter."
Give a positive answer
In the example, the candidate connects their skills into a direct answer to the question. This is a more positive way of saying that their current company’s mission might not resonate with them or that they might not be finding opportunities to do the work they want to. Whatever your reason for looking for a job, apply the same principle by positioning your response into a positive and opportunity-driven statement:
“I’m looking for an opportunity where I can put those abilities to work for a mission I’m passionate about.”
Connect your answer to the job
The candidate then moves on to explain why the position they’re interviewing for is the right fit for their next career move:
“I was also excited to read in the job description that this role will require regular presentations to key stakeholders—one of my key motivators is the ability to connect with colleagues and communicate my team’s work, so this is an especially exciting part of this opportunity.”
This is where researching the job description and company can help you craft an answer that your interviewers will appreciate. Recalling specifics about the job description or company from your research provides an opening for you to address how your skills and background make you the right person for the job. Think about the question, “What are you looking for in a job?” Then find the overlap in what the employer is looking for in a candidate, and bridge that gap with your answer.
Related: Interview Question: “Tell Me About Yourself”
Provide a recap
If your answer is long, it might be appropriate to give a quick summary at the end. In our example, the candidate quickly and positively mentions their current job, gives a high-level recap of what they want in their next job, and establishes that the job they’re interviewing for fits into that plan:
“Ultimately, I’ve learned a lot in my current role, but I’m looking for the next step where I can continue to grow and use the skills I’ve honed to contribute to a company I love, and this opportunity seems to be the perfect fit.”
More example answers
Example 1: Data analyst
“My current role is focused on data analytics, but I’ve learned what I enjoy most and what sees the most results which is my ability to turn the data into strategic stories. I’ve been searching for an opportunity where I can provide strategic insights for high-growth accounts. I’m most excited when I see how my work has affected the bottom line, so I was thrilled to read that you’re looking for someone who thrives in a sales environment. This opportunity seems like a perfect fit to use my data strategy background in a more sales-oriented environment.”
Example 2: Critical care nurse
“I’ve enjoyed learning from my mentors and growing through the ranks at my current hospital. I want to use my strengths in building patient relationships and providing complex care in an innovative environment. This hospital has a reputation for challenging the way healthcare approaches problem-solving, and I’m excited at the prospect of having a hand in that. I also understand that your ICU is renowned for treating advanced cases, and believe my background in specialized treatment positions me well to be successful on the team.”
Related: How to Prepare for an Onsite Interview
Example 3: Merchandiser
“I’m looking for a position where I can build on my successes representing and promoting the store brand for a company I love and where I have the opportunity to build a team. Being a team lead in my current role has shown me how much I truly love serving my colleagues, so I was excited to learn that this position has a heavy focus on management growth and training. I love your company’s mission to revolutionize the consumer goods space, and I can’t think of a more suited position for my background to bring value to the company.”
As you begin to think through your own answer to the question, keep the interviewer in mind. When asking why you’re looking for a job, the interviewer probably wants to learn about your relevant aspirations and what makes the open position a good fit for your background. Use this as an opportunity to highlight your skills and explain why this position is what you’ve been looking for. Most importantly, stay positive throughout.
Should You Announce that You’re Seeking New Opportunities on LinkedIn?
When it comes to using social media for professional purposes, most people would agree that LinkedIn is a good place for jobseekers to connect with potential employers and find a job. If you are on the position of actively seeking for new employment, you can take advantage of the network you have built and get in touch with recruiters who search for talents in your field of expertise.
Among other features, the headline is probably the most crucial element of your LinkedIn profile. Headline is a 120-character descriptive column that will appear in search results along with your name, photo, and location. This section is the key if you want potential employers to visit your profile and find out more detailed information about you. To spark their interest to click on your profile, you should create a memorable and appealing headline by describing what you do and what you have to offer.
To let recruiters know that they are on job hunting, some people might put phrases such as ‘seeking new opportunities’, ‘looking for new challenges,’ ‘open for new roles’, or ‘considering new employment’ on their LinkedIn headline. By using such phrases, your profile will show up on the search results when recruiters type these keywords on LinkedIn search. The aim is to directly tell them that you are keen to explore new opportunities.
While it is obvious that you should make the most of your headline to entice recruiters and land a job, do you really need to state and indicate that you are seeking new opportunities on your LinkedIn profile?
See: What to Say and What Not During Face-to-Face Interview?
On the positive note, advertise your availability on your headline could be a direct signal for recruiters that you are open for new employment. This will help them to find the right candidates who are really looking for job, instead of just guessing and meeting those who are not really interested in moving on from their current companies. Not mention, some recruiters do source for active and available candidates by typing related keywords on LinkedIn search.
However, announcing on LinkedIn headline that you are seeking new opportunities could also mean that you are currently unemployed. Some recruiters and hiring managers could interpret such statement as someone being too desperate about getting employed. Some other might tend to avoid candidates who put similar phrases on their profile, because they might not be interested in hiring someone who have been laid off from their job.
Additionally, using such phrases on your headline will not help your profile stand out from the crowd as it does not communicate specifically about your skills, work experience, career goals, or even the industry itself. Oftentimes, recruiters end up wasting their time for nothing when finding that candidate’s resume is not relevant with the roles they are seeking.
If you are currently employed, announcing that you are open to new opportunities is not a wise move, too. When your employer knows about this, they might wonder why, how, and when you want to intend to leave the company. Such presumption could create awkward relationship between you and your boss, even when you are still working there.
Towards the end, either you are currently employed or unemployed, it will be better to avoid putting such phrase on your LinkedIn headline. Instead, you can activate LinkedIn’s Open Candidate feature to let recruiters know your availability for job offerings. If you are on incognito search, your current employer will not find out this because LinkedIn will hide such information from your boss and only premium recruiters can see this availability.
Article first appeared at Jobiness.
Read also: Job of a Lifetime? Reasons Why You Should Stay Informed with Current Job Trends
What to Put on LinkedIn When You Are Unemployed
When you’re unemployed, updating your LinkedIn profile can get complicated in a hurry. What should you list for your professional headline and current position when you are between jobs? After all, the purpose of updating your profile is to attract prospective employers. Choosing the wrong content could drive hiring managers away instead of attracting them.
Fortunately, there are many options for dealing with your employment status on your LinkedIn profile—and not all of them require you to announce to the world that you're unemployed.
There are ways of handling the situation that make it clear you're looking for work, without being obvious about the fact that you're out of work.
It’s also easy to update social media, which means that you have the freedom to try various options and see how they land with recruiters and hiring managers. If you're not getting good results, you can try something different.
What to Include in Your LinkedIn Profile When You're Unemployed
Above all, it's important to be honest, because it's easy for potential employers to check your background when they are considering you for employment. Options for when you're out of work include stating it in your profile, or not mentioning it at all.
Should You Update Your LinkedIn Profile—Or Not?
A simple option is to put an end date on your last position and not add a new one. That way, your profile is technically correct, and you're not highlighting your unemployed status.
You could also consider updating your status field in your profile, so your network knows that you're looking for a job.
You could post a status update with, "Currently looking for a finance position. Do you know anyone who's hiring?" or "I am interested in freelance opportunities. Let me know if someone in your network needs help writing or editing." It's a quick and easy way to let folks you're connected with know that you could use their help.
Another option is to update your current position to make it clear you're hunting. For instance, you could change it to "Open to opportunities."
On the flip side, you may not want to advertise the fact that you're unemployed. Instead, you can present yourself as a professional without mentioning the fact that you're out of work. There are options you can use that will show you're job searching, without stating publicly why you're seeking employment.
LinkedIn Professional Headline Examples
If you want to mention that you're available, without going into details, one of the best options is to share your expertise in your professional headline. For example:
- Business Analyst
- Customer Service Specialist
- Data Scientist
- Digital Media Strategy
- Editor in Chief
- Event Manager
- Experienced Marketing Manager
- Freelance Marketer and Writer
- Leadership Coach
- Project + Product Management
- Product Manager
- Sales Strategist
- Social Media Manager
- Software Engineer
- Special Projects Coordinator
- Technical Support Associate
- Virtual Assistant
If you decide to mention that you're looking for a new job and you'd like the help of your network, here are some examples of what to list:
- Actively Seeking Employment
- Available for Employment
- Available for New Opportunities
- Seeking a New Opportunity
- Operations Logistic Professional Seeking Work
- Experienced Retail Manager Available for New Opportunity
- Former VP HR, Seeking New Human Resources Opportunities
- Marketing Professional in Transition
- Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Currently Exploring Options
- Recent College Graduate Seeking Entry-Level Programming Position
LinkedIn Current Position Examples
Listing your current position can be a dilemma, as well. The simplest option is not to list a current employer. Some profiles list "Unemployed" or "Seeking New Position" as the company name, but then you're advertising the fact that you're out of a job. If you're doing freelance or consulting work, another option is to list your company as "Self-employed."
Here are some examples:
- Open to Opportunities at Seeking New Position
- Consultant at Self-Employed
- Freelance Writer at Self-Employed
- Student at College.edu
- Recent Graduate at College.edu
- Seeking a Position at Unemployed
- Looking for a job in Human Resources at Unemployed
Unfortunately, there can be bias in the workplace against unemployed job seekers. Many hiring managers persist in giving preference to candidates who are currently employed, despite the fact that if the recession taught us anything, it’s that even the best workers can lose their jobs.
If this is a concern for you, consider not listing a current job or listing your current position as “Self-employed.” You can also list yourself as looking for work immediately after losing your job, and then switch to “Self-employed” if your initial announcement doesn’t draw the kinds of offers you’re looking for.
If you left your position voluntarily, you might decide to make that clear to employers. The best way to do that is to clarify your situation in your position descriptions. Here are examples:
Current Position Description
Actively seeking new opportunities after voluntarily leaving my last stint at HSBC with a long record of success and solid recommendations (see below).
Past Position Description
Left job voluntarily in excellent standing with a track record of success and excellent recommendations (see below).
One option for getting around listing the fact that you're unemployed is to leave your LinkedIn profile as is, without updating it. Even though it's not accurate, and could possibly be an issue for a prospective employer, it doesn't advertise the fact that you're out of work.
It's also the easiest solution, especially on a short-term basis. If you line up a new job quickly, you can simply add that position to your profile.
The idea here is to make it appear as if you had “forgotten” to update your profile.
Of course, if you choose this option, you should always be honest when interacting with recruiters and hiring managers, once they contact you.
There’s a big difference between “forgetting” to update your social media and lying on a resume or during a conversation with a prospective employer. And, after a couple of months of being unemployed, it's probably best that you update your profile.
Regardless of the option you choose for your current status, be sure to take some time to make sure your LinkedIn profile is robust and reflects the highlights of your career, to date. When you're editing, you can turn off "activity broadcasts" so you're not advertising the changes. That's especially important if you're leaving your old employment information on your profile.
Check Your Profile Picture
Take a look at the picture you're using and decide if it reflects the professional you. If not, consider updating the image you're using. Your picture is the first thing networking contacts and employers who are sourcing candidates are going to notice, so make sure it's a good one.
Consider using the same professional image on all of your work-related social accounts. Being consistent across platforms is a way to boost your personal brand.
You can also reach out to former managers and colleagues and request a LinkedIn recommendation. (Only make this request to people who you have a good relationship with.) One good way to get them is to give them. Your connections may reciprocate.
Create a Custom LinkedIn URL
Do you have a custom LinkedIn URL? If not, it's quick and easy to get one that you can add to your resume and share with employers.
Check the Details
Finally, double-check that the information in your LinkedIn profile matches your resume:
- Are your dates of employment (other than the one you are "forgetting to update" for now) correct?
- How about company names, job titles, and your educational achievements.
Be sure that what you list on LinkedIn matches the information that's on your resume.
Seeking new opportunities currently
.Seeking New Opportunities - Career Transitions in Engineering: Insights from the Field
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