Should You Quit Your Job? NO!!!!!

WorkCoachCafeUnless your life is in danger or doing your job requires you to do something illegal, don’t quit your current job until you have a new job!  I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it is reality.

Why not quit?  

Until you have another job lined up, quitting is not a good idea.  Ever heard the saying, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire”? That’s what quitting your old job before you have a new job often is for most people.

5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job YET

1.  No more paychecks. Until you land a new job and work a week or two, sometimes longer, it will be a while until that next payday.

2.  No guarantees on the length of your job search.  You have no guarantee that you’ll land a new job quickly.  It could be several weeks or months before you get that new job (and then the usual lag – see # 1 – until that first payday).

3.  Explanation required. Looking for a new job, you will need to explain to everyone who interviews you why you left your job.  

4.  Tougher job search. You are more attractive to a new employer if you are currently employed.

5.  No unemployment benefits.  You usually won’t qualify for unemployment benefits if you have resigned.

All good reasons not to resign, yet.  But that doesn’t mean you are permanently stuck in a job you hate.

5 Things to Do Instead of Quitting Now

Get ready to leave.  Don’t obviously pack your bags and head for the door, but lay the groundwork for your departure.

1.  Establish non-work contact information for your job search.

You need separate contact information for your job search, if you don’t already have it. Hopefully, this contact information will serve you for many years (and several jobs).  It should be independent of where you work or live, so when/if either of those change, you don’t lose track of your network and they don’t lose track of you.

Looking for a new job from your current place of work is often a very big mistake.  Employers don’t want you looking for a new job on their time (when they want you to be focused on doing your current job).  They also tend not to trust employees who are job hunting.  So, using your work email, phone number, and cell phone for your job search could cost you your job.

Right now, I’d recommend setting up a Gmail.com email account, and purchasing your own cell phone.  Update your LinkedIn Profile with your new contact information so you can always access your LinkedIn account and so that people can reach you on LinkedIn without going through your employer.

2.  Ramp up your visibility on LinkedIn.  

Don’t go from 0 to 110 MPG in one week – or even in one month – that’s a dead give away to your plans for departing.  Assume your employer is paying attention, so be active in ways that will help your with your job, if possible, as well as your job search. 

  • ALWAYS be positive about your employer and your current job! (and your former jobs!)
  • Make sure your Profile is 100% complete with a nice head shot photo that is recognizably you.
  • Make your Profile public.
  • Use the Summary section to describe what you do – your accomplishments and achievements, not just a list of “responsible for” items.
  • Add connections appropriate for your current job.
  • Add recommendations (give and get).
  • Join Groups appropriate for your current (and, hopefully, future) job.

To protect your current job, don’t announce your job search to the entire LinkedIn community or have “seeking a position as…” in your LinkedIn Professional Headline.

3.  Figure out what you want to do next.

Leaping blindly from job to job can work out fine, or, more often, can be a disaster (just ask me, I’ve done it).  It’s much better to have a goal in mind that is more well-considered than simply receiving a paycheck.

Since my Big Mistake, whenever I’ve been at a career crossroads, I read the latest edition of What Color Is Your Parachute? by Dick Bolles.  It always helps me, and it has helped millions of other people.  If your library has only one career book, this one is it.

As you figure out what you want to do, adjust your LinkedIn Profile appropriately to emphasize your accomplishments, education, etc. that support that goal.

4.  Select target employers.

Once you  have figured out what you want to do next, start considering where you want to work next.  Develop some criteria: size, industry, location, reputation, age – whatever is important to you.  This doesn’t have to be a big list or even a permanent list, but you need to have some employers in mind, learning as much as you can about them. And keep looking for more to add.

As you develop your list of target employers, research them on LinkedIn:

  • Any employees of those organizations in your Connections?  
  • Is there a Company Profile?  It will tell you more about them: who works there now and who worked there in the past.  
  • What LinkedIn Groups do those employees typically belong to?  
  • Are there any recruiters for those employers who are on LinkedIn (bet there are!).

When you find an employer you like, check to see if companies which compete with them would also be good places for you to work.  If you find one or two (or more) that look promising, add them to your list.

5.  Increase your visibility with your target employers.

You may be able to do this by attending local meetings of relevant groups – Chambers of Commerce are a great place to meet small business owners, industry expos are excellent “hunting grounds” for job seekers, as are almost any professional organization.

  • Go to meetings and make a point of introducing yourself to at least 2 or 3 people there.
  • Volunteer to help at meetings.  I love sitting at the check-in desk where people pick up their name tags.  I meet almost everyone attending that way.
  • Volunteer to work on a committee.  If your field is marketing and you love animals, volunteer to help your local animal shelter with their marketing – social media, press releases, etc. Demonstrate you know what you are doing!

And – of course! – become more active and visible on LinkedIn!

  • Join LinkedIn Groups (like those the employees of your target employers belong to!), and participate carefully.
  • Promote your employer’s business carefully in the right Groups and the right way (updates about the latest public successes).

Bottom Line

Yes, you may still need to work at a job you don’t want for a while longer.  But, it’s better for your bank account and your resume to move smoothly from one job to another if you can.  Yes, the logistics of looking for a job while you are still employed can be more complicated, but the payoff is real and long-term.

More on How and When to Quit Your Job and What to Say in Interviews

The Interviewer Asked Me Why I Left, and I Said Too Much!

How to Answer Why You Left Your Last Job When You Really Quit

Reason for Leaving Your Job After 15 Years

How to Leave Your Job in Good Hands (and Why You Should)

Be Careful What You Say When Leaving Your Job

 

© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .

Comments

  1. Jennifer Spivey says:

    This article was wonderful. So many people just jump into the unknown without thinking about the consequences. It’s hard to work at a job that one doesn’t enjoy and have the patience it takes to seek employment elsewhere and know that it may take longer for one to find a job. Everyone seeks the perfect job.

  2. I may have had a tough time after I quit working for the union but I don’t regret it. I agree with this post but I think that being in a job that makes you undesirable to other companies is an acceptable reason for a tactful resignation.

    • While your reasons are logical, sound, and politically correct one could also consider another perspective. If one is employed in an abusive situation, or with an employer whose values are out of alignment with yours it may be better to quit and do some professional and personal development including getting very clear on your brand, values, and direction. This is difficult, at best, when stressed by working conditions that may require you to act in a manner that destroys your reputation (though not illegal), is unhealthy (mentally and physically), and isolates you from networking, family, and friends. I know. I’ve been there. I learned never, ever to take a job with an employer whose values do not align with mine, or with whom I have a instinctual sense there is “something off.” My heart aches when I think of my colleagues crying at their desks with a sense of victimhood, disempowered, unappreciated, and stifled by an organization has one measure of success – proft.

      Starting a small business, volunteering for service and to network, taking certification courses, and taking a deep breath will put you in a better frame of mind than continuing to support unethical and/or abusive employers. For financial undergirding consider what I call a “reframe job.”

      There is nothing wrong with explaining you left an organization of your own free will, on good terms, prepared to journey into a new territory. In fact, it seems downright courageous. A trait all leaders must possess.

  3. Cafe Patron says:

    I agree with Laura and Nikki. Six years ago, after failing to find a position as a programmer-analyst, I took a full-time retail job. I’m still in this job, and I hate it! It requires two hours of commuting each day, leaves me exhausted on my days off, requires me to tolerate values that conflict with mine, and doesn’t pay enough to meet my living expenses. Taking time off to attend professional-association meetings is difficult. Indeed, my work schedule, which includes two evenings a week and every other weekend, “isolates [me] from networking, family, and friends.”

    I feel that I must absolutely quit this job because I will be stuck there if I don’t, but I want to have a career plan before I quit as Susan advises. Having worked a variety of jobs in the past and having diverse interests makes planning difficult, but I have discerned my skills and values, and I do have some ideas for my next step. However, I would like to have more time and energy to pursue these ideas without the gut-wrenching distraction of my current job.

    Many success stories that I hear begin with a person’s quitting their job (or getting fired).

  4. I think it depends on someone’s situation. If you’re looking for a new job because you’re tired of your old one then absolutely you shouldn’t quit. It gives you some stability until you find the next one especially if you need those paychecks to pay rent and bills.

    But, there are times when you need to quit your job and start fresh. I was working a dead-end job in Boston. It paid the bills but I was literally living paycheck to paycheck. It really was depressing that I worked so hard but had to scrimp by. I have a college education in IT but I graduated right when the dot com bubble burst. So, I made a plan. It wasn’t a career plan it was a plan. The plan was that I would save enough money to quit my job and move to New Zealand.

    It was so scary but I did it! It was so refreshing to know that I had all the time that I needed to find a ‘dream’ job and travel.

    Sometimes, you just need to quit your job. Also, gaps in your resume are fine. I spend about 2 – 3 months in between contracts to visit my family in the US and take courses. It hasn’t prevented me finding work even though it does come up in interviews.

  5. I really wish I had read this earlier. I was having trouble in the last company I worked with and it was around the time you posted this. Unfortunately for me the advise I got from my colleagues/friends just encouraged me to leave the job! Its been that day and now that I still havent found a new job- the market is down and skills dont match.

    For me, it was a very foolhardy thing to do, leaving a job without getting another. Especially since decision is an emotional one.

    • Rene,

      Thanks for visiting. Sorry to hear what’s happened. The silver lining is that you learned from the experience and you can take it and apply the experience to find something that is a better fit for you. If you don’t find something at first, you may want to look for temporary work or community service — anything that goes on your resume, helps you look busy and engaged. These activities can help you get hired in the long-term.

      Good luck and best wishes in your search,
      Chandlee

      • Thank you Chandlee,

        Its tough for me to explain the 15 months gap except for the 2 months course i took up.
        I feel I wasted lot of time – frankly I was not sure which way to go – I spent time first getting angry on people who wronged me and then on cursing myself for letting these things bother me. Anyway, I have been actively searching jobs and 90% people are not willing to even consider me when they learn about the gap.

        I cant undo the time lost. But will keep trying. Thank you for your response, it encourages me to keep going.
        Regards
        Rene

    • Hi Rene,

      Tough lesson to learn, but you won’t do that again, I bet.

      Ask those friends and colleagues who recommended that you leave if they know anyone who is hiring people to do what you do, or if they have any contacts they can share to help you with your job search. Ask those colleagues for recommendations for your LinkedIn Profile (I hope you have one!).

      Were there any suppliers or customers you worked with in your old job who might be interested in hiring you into their organizations? Or who might know someone who is hiring? Track them down, if you think that’s a possibility.

      Your network can really be a big help to you right now, particularly if they helped you decide to quit.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

      • Hello Susan,

        Thank you for the suggestion. I am approaching lots of people in my contacts to help me out and also getting connected to people from former companies.

        Surprisingly the “friends and colleagues” are no where to be seen and are happy in their own lives. Unfortunately my tenure in the last company ended on a very sour note an hence I cant approach them. My friends don’t realize what difficult phase I am in, financially and socially and seem to be least bothered to help. But I keep following up in a hope to get some positive result.

        I do get my bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts but i know that is not the solution. I will do my best to get hired.

        Thank you too for responding. It keeps me going :)

        Regards
        Rene

        • Rene,

          Sorry to hear that you are feeling alone and not supported in your job search. (Assuming that I am reading you correctly…)

          We strongly recommend exploring job search groups and job clubs. Going through the job search process can be a lonely and psychologically isolating experience if others in your life aren’t experiencing what you are.

          Surrounding yourself with others who “get it” can be helpful — and provide peer-to-peer support. Here is a directory of these job clubs.

          Good luck and all the best,
          Chandlee

        • Hi Rene,

          i strongly echo Chandlee’s advice about finding a job search support group for help. They are so helpful – a solitary job search can often be very discouraging.

          Regarding your friends and colleagues who are “no where to be seen,” often you need to reach out to them for help. If they haven’t been unemployed recently, they won’t understand how tough it is now, and they won’t be thinking about what they might be able to do to help.

          Most likely these friends would be very happy to help you if they understood that you needed help and had some idea of what they could do to help. Telling them you “need a job ASAP” won’t get as good a response as telling them that you would love some leads or connections to jobs as [what you want] for [3 to 5 or 10 of your target employers].

          Give both ideas a try – joining a job club (or two), and reaching out to your friends with sepcifics on how they can help you with your job search.

          Stay in touch…

          Good luck with this.
          Susan

          • Thank you so much Chandlee and Susan for your suggestions.

            I am from India and we dont have job clubs or support groups. But, I took your suggestion and got back to my colleague previous company. I am now working part time from home for his company, as they are located in another state. I am working hard and hope they are pleased with my performance. I am looking forward to work full time with them in near future.

            I thank you again for providing me encouragement and guidance.

            Best Regards
            Rene

          • Hi Rene,

            Thank you for the update! You are very welcome for the encouragement. That’s why we’re here, and we are very glad to learn that we were helpful!

            It’s great to know that you have an income stream right now! Maybe not ideal, but much better than nothing. It also gives you something meaningful for your LinkedIn Profile and your resume, too.

            Keep looking for that great new job in your current location.

            Best regards,
            Susan

  6. NONE OF MATTERS THAT MUCH. I have been in the workforce for 12 years since college. I have taught high school, owned and operated my own business, and managed someone else’s business. All this stuff is costumes for our egos. The job, the money, the next opportunity will always be there. That’s it. No propaganda. No big message. It doesn’t matter and the universe is abundant. Enjoy life. Good night.

  7. I once quit my job without another lined up and it was difficult. The job was killing me slowly but I did my best to in there for as long as I can before I had to go. The question kept coming up “Why did you leave?” out of all the answers that I gave I don’t think it mattered because the employer would automatically think negatively. If I could do i all over again I would’ve stayed at my last job until I found something else. It would’ve been hard but now it’s even harder with no paycheck coming in. I’ve learned from my mistakes and will not quit my job until I have another lined up. Thank you.

    • Hi Basic,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us! It’s a very painful lesson to learn, but you have learned it, and you won’t be encouraging anyone else to quit their job either (unless their life is in danger or something illegal is going on).

      Many interviewers will not count it against you if you provide a short, unemotional response. Use a variation of the 3-part answer to “Why Do You Want to Change Jobs?” question. It should work well for you.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  8. Bayliss says:

    I am desperate to find a job that I love as my current one makes me very unhappy, however, I don’t want to take advantage of my current employer as they have, in their own way, been flexible with me. I dont want to keep making up fake doctors appointments, but I cannot expect potential employers to do interviews outside work hours, so how can I attend interviews?

  9. elizabeth says:

    Great article. It is true than in most cases it is better to get a new job than just quit. The problem is that sometimes it takes a toll when things are not going well at your job, either being overworked or abused, while at the same time being optimistic of finding a new job. I changed less than a year to doing my own consulting and while at the beginning I enjoyed the money as it was much more than my regular sr. mgr./dir. Unfortunately, the level was not quite senior what I was used to but kept an open minded. Now it feels that all my work since I started is now handed to a sr. manager who is a permanent employee. As my contract expires in less than 8 weeks, it seems that I am struggling to lead this project which still needs Executive approval. The question is that while I agree with the advice of do not quit until you get a new job, what do you do when you know you have no future in the organization? It seems that all my effort will pay off after all but it won’t be me who will lead this initiative. Being an independent consultant, I am not an employee and have no benefits, and i am afraid that this will turn worse. They already took part of my work, asked a Sr. Manager to create a presentation for the Executive Leadership just by recycling all my work (in university is called plagiarism). How do you handle a situation like this when you have no “boss” but rather a “client”. I should not care as it is ending and not sure how to handle this situation as I am still thinking as an employee which I am not anymore. How do I handle this? Please advise. Many thanks as usual for your great support and advice.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      A client is a much different person than a boss, absolutely right about that. So, it is time to stop thinking like an employee. You are a consultant, and you should alwyas be marketing your services.

      With your current client:
      * Document your work, and hand in weekly or monthly status reports, perhaps including copies of the presentations and other material you have provided. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself, at your own location, not the client’s location.
      * Put your name and contact information on everything you provide.
      * Look for more clients.

      The good news about being an independent consultant is that your client should not get upset when you look for other work. Connect on LinkedIn and ask for recommendations you can show to other potential clients. Get written permission to use some of the materials you have created for this client in your marketing materials – with all confidential information blacked out.

      Join a local independent consultants organization or small business group to learn more about running your business.

      Running your own business can be a wonderful way to make a living, but it’s not easy for most of us. It is still definitely a lot of work.

      Good luck with your business!
      Susan

      • elizabeth says:

        HI Susan
        Thanks for your wise words. You put things into perspective and very useful words at this time. I am also glad to hear that I am doing most of the activities with my current client. Being a “coded project”, I will keep in mind how I can showcase the materials/road map I worked on. Your advise of running a SMB group to maximize how to run my consulting services, it’s a great advise.
        Thanks for the encouragement and professional advise. This site is a great source of professional advise and valuable resourceful tools. Many thanks!

  10. I am writing in to give you an update. Sorry for making it so lengthy.
    I had been freelancing for a company for the last few months. Unfortunately for the past few weeks the work load has decreased and so the manager is going to take a call on whether to continue this work with me or not. I am keeping my fingers crossed and also trying to work out other things that I can do on my own, besides looking for a full time job.
    Few days back I got in touch with an ex colleague and she suggested that I try to get back to the same job in the previous company as they are hiring. She suggests that if not for employment I could just clear things off with the bosses there and have a closure (I left on a very bad note). If they offer a job, well and good, if not we can move on.
    Since I am aware of the process and was quite good at work she advised that I could try to work things out with my ex boss. She has offered to speak to her manager who can then take it up with higher management.
    We met in person a day ago and I relayed in brief what had gone wrong and the reason why I left. She was of the opinion that such incidences are very common in the corporate world and I need to learn to handle this and be strong, else I won’t be able to survive. I got a lot of insight after having a good discussion about how things work in the ‘Real world’.
    After knowing the history, I do not know if she is going to speak to her manager after all. And I am not even sure if she should! Especially since I would have to face the same set of people again and unfortunately I am too sensitive as a person and sometimes get nightmares of this past incident.
    I want to believe that whatever happened in the past was just situation and not personal.
    I am looking for a closure and also a chance to start afresh in the company (since I liked my work). But I have no idea if it is a good thing to do. I am very scared and still get nightmares :(

    Should I still ask her to go ahead and talk to her manager? Please advice.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Rene,

      Since I don’t really know any of the details (nor is it appropriate for you to describe them in detail here in a public forum), I think that the real question is, do you really want your old job back?

      Perhaps your friend can explain things to her boss in such a way that her boss would be a good advocate for you, but it feels kind of unlikely to me that you could get that job back and be happy doing it. I could certainly be wrong about that, but putting myself in your position, I would probably feel uncomfortable.

      In the company where you are currently freelancing, are there other opportunities you could transition to if the current job stops? Look around – IF you like working there – and see if there are other possibilities for you.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  11. ShrykeAbysmal says:

    I stayed in my job 6 years after realizing that it was horrible – actually being the single remaining person in my department on 4 different occasions within 8 years. I gave everything I had to an organization that lacked accountability at the executive level, resented having to cede control of any sort to the very people they hired to do the things they could not, and forced people to spend 80% of their time fighting to convince management that we were all on the same team.

    I stayed through 160+ hour pay periods, 84 hour straight disaster recovery efforts, working holidays sick, taking on the responsibilities of an entire department by myself, and then having management listen to all of our suggestions on how to prevent all of that and then do the opposite, and then throw us under the bus for having not warned them when they repeat their failures.

    I left a couple weeks ago, because I had forgotten why I had gotten into the industry in the first place, because I was suffering from physiological damage and was changing for the worst as a person. Scaring everyone around me with fatalism, apathy, and mistrust, and seeing less and less point in breathing for one more day.

    To just give out blanket advice to people who may very well be getting destroyed as people for 8-17 hours a day? A bad work relationship is in a lot of ways no different than an abusive romantic relationship. And nobody here would advise someone being abused by a spouse to stay in the relationship until a roof, groceries, and creature comforts equal to those currently available were secured. Such a person may not live to enjoy such comforts. You get out. Then you rise back up strong with the renewed sense of worth and purpose that such a gutsy and self preserving move gives you.

    This is what I am doing. And it is not something I would have even seen a point in trying had I not chosen my own care and survival over that of some company that would never have returned the favor. If you are not willing to believe in yourself and consider yourself important enough to take a risk on, then how on Earth can one ever convince someone else to do so anyway?

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