Being a recruiter is great. We get to make lofty assumptions and judgements on a person’s whole career based on their lovingly crafted 2-page summary. Those with a standard career trajectory and long tenure in organisations generally fare well during this corporate equivalent of The Hunger Games, but anybody with a slightly unorthodox career path risks being discarded in favour of a safer option.

We’ve come a long way towards accepting our differences, but we need to be more grown up about those unorthodox career paths. We need to accept that sometimes people leave jobs without a new one, and sometimes *gasp* jobs leave people. This can be for a variety of reasons, and granted, some aren’t great, but sometimes, the fit just isn’t right and like an unhappy marriage, someone should leave. Just because the fit wasn’t right in the last job doesn’t mean it won’t be in the next.

To walk away from a job we don’t enjoy, or a boss that is a bully, or a company whose direction we disagree with, is a brave decision. It takes strength and courage, tenacity to follow through, and a confidence that what we are doing is ultimately the right decision. Look through any job spec and you will find all of these words to describe the ideal candidate. These are all attributes that we expect our employees to exhibit when delivering our exceptional business results, yet somehow, in the context of their own job, it is seen as a ‘problem’. We are effectively telling people to demonstrate a set of personality traits to benefit our organisation, but not to do so in any other aspect of their lives. Likewise, my current favourite buzzword*, ‘disruptive’ is consistently used to describe how organisations want to impact their markets and so want ‘disrupters’ to make this happen. I am pretty sure they don’t mean disruptive enough to walk straight out of a crap job to apply for theirs.

I understand the reservations, to a point, we don’t like negativity or awkward situations and being forced to discuss an elephant in the room is something we would rather avoid if a suitably traditional alternative is available. But we talk about Unconscious Bias a lot in HR, and how we need to challenge the set of assumptions we have about people or situations. This is true here; we should challenge the automatic assumption that someone leaving a job is worthy of alarm bells. It is not always the case. Sometimes, bad jobs just happen to good people.

*not my favourite.