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I want to change jobs. I am an app developer for a large company and we create apps that contain images I find objectionable.

I'm tired of being exposed to this type of imagery all day long at my job.

I'm applying for new jobs now, and the first thing the recruiters ask me is, why do I want to change my current role?

Is it an acceptable reason to provide that I am not wanting to see this kind of content? Or should I come up with some other excuse?

I don't want to look to my new employer like I will want to change jobs if I don't like his apps!

  • I would like to know why there are so many close votes on this question. I feel as though it is a perfectly valid one, where the personal situation serves as a brilliant example and justification for the question. – acolyte Apr 4 '13 at 13:42
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    @enderland this isn't asking if he should quit or not. OP already knows he wants to. he's asking if the reason he has would be considered a valid one while looking for a new job. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable question. he's asking how he should proceed so that he doesn't face lasting consequences for his choice (and by extension, will there be lasting consequences.) – acolyte Apr 4 '13 at 13:57
  • MaKo, it seems you're having a bit of difficulty with having your questions accepted by the community. I'd suggest reading the FAQ and tour page. For help with editing/improving your existing questions, you can ask in The Workplace Chat or on The Workplace Meta. If you have a new question to ask, but are unsure how it may be received, I encourage you to use those same resources for guidance from the community. – yoozer8 Apr 4 '13 at 14:08
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    I think that's an acceptable reason. Working with potentially disturbing content is a bit unusual and if you are finding it upsetting I think most potential future employers would understand if you explained the full context to them. Also: If you want to get the question reopened, you might want to phrase it a bit more generically, such as "The apps I develop contain media that is somewhat disturbing, and it's starting to get to me" instead of "I'm tired of watching pictures of dogs dying and all different kind of diseases." – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 4 '13 at 14:34
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    @enderland he's asking how it will appear to potential future employers. he is asking if it would be a good idea to bring it up on applications and in interviews. i think that is something which would fall into this site's scope (interview practices and how to describe reason for leaving). – acolyte Apr 4 '13 at 15:49
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I agree with Chad's answer about not saying anything negative. I also think it's important to be honest in interviews, as failure to do so could cause problems later (worst case: termination of the job, although I think that would be highly unlikely in your case as it's described). I know it's tough when these two objectives seem to be in conflict. That's where answers like "I am looking for a position with more opportunity for growth" are good.

In the case where dealing with disturbing content is a motivation to seek another job, using an answer such as "I am looking for a position with more opportunity for growth" is OK, but I do think that a more detailed explanation might be good, maybe phrased as:

Currently, I am engaged in $legal_and_legitimate_activity which exposes me to intense media content. I am starting to find this content is making me feel upset/disturbed/unsettled and am seeking to transition to a similar role that does not deal in such content.

If you do this, I think it's very important to stress that the activity that exposes you to the content is completely legal and legitimate. Working with a system that files/manages media crime scene photos, or images of medical conditions (sounds close to what you are working with), or journalists' photos of conflict zones, or building an automated image filtering/moderating system for web forums would all expose you to such content and I don't think that would cause anyone to be suspicious of you or to think negatively of your former employer.

If you can't think of a single explanation that doesn't seem shady, you probably shouldn't mention this aspect at all, and stick with the "growth opportunities" answer.

In the case that any new employer would work with such content, it would probably be good for the interviewer to know you no longer want to work with such content as soon as possible, rather than for you to find out the details on your first day on the job. I think this can be generalized to any situation that causes you to move jobs but does not reflect poorly on you or the previous employer.


Also, Juha's answer makes a good point: have you spoken to your current employer about how this work is affecting you? Even if they have no other assignments, it's probably something they should mention when they interview new hires. If the problem is really bad, would they help pay for therapy? I remember reading a story about someone audited objectionable content with Facebook and they ended up paying for his therapy, as the stuff he saw affected him that deeply.

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Not wanting to see content like that is a perfectly valid reason, should you change jobs. But why not talk about your current work with your manager first? Maybe the manager can assign you tasks that do not expose you to content you would rather not see? Perhaps in some other areas of the program, with different kind of content? Or perhaps doing back-end development, where you are not exposed to the content as much, if at all?

It would be hasty to change jobs without first communicating with the manager about the issue. That is a part of the job description of a manager, after all! The manager will know how to proceed and will tell you about other areas you could work in.

  • hi, Thanks for your answer. The main clients are now just drug representatives, no chance for other kind of apps unfortunately on this job ;( – manuelBetancurt Apr 4 '13 at 9:24
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    Hi! As written, this is more appropriate as a comment than as an answer. If you could edit to expand and explain your answer to the question asked, that would be great! Otherwise, it may be converted to a comment on the question. – yoozer8 Apr 4 '13 at 13:09
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The golden rule when when interviewing is to never say anything negative about your current employer. While this is not necessarily negative it seems to be one to you so is likely to be taken that way by an interviewer. You would be better served with a more generic and positive sounding reason like:

  • I am looking for a position with more opportunity for growth
  • I am looking for experience outside of [industry]
  • I am excited about the opportunities presented by your company

Really any other positive response that shows you are looking to move forward not get away from your past.

This question is not likely to land you a job but it could cost you one if you answer it wrong. It is better to get past this question with your prospects intact.

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While it is an acceptable reason, I would urge caution in how you explain this. If you don't get into enough detail it may seem picky or that you are working in something seen as shady possibly to want to avoid the images you see. Secondly, if you talk poorly of your employer that could also cause issues as if you speak poorly of your current employer this could be seen as a red flag for other perspective employers. Thus, you have to be careful about using this as your main reason as someone else may say, "Well, we may have similar images in our stuff if we do a marketing campaign for those new drugs," so that it isn't inescapable.

I would suggest having a second or third reason for wanting to change jobs that a recruiter can use as, "I want to get away from these images," may not help narrow down which companies may work as alternative places to work. Do you want better pay? Do you want more control over the systems you build? Aside from the pictures, what other changes do you want in your new role would be the question I'd consider.

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