Should I Quit My Job With Nothing Else Lined Up?

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quit with nothing else lined up

Being in a job that you don’t like is awful. Your work consumes more of your time than just about any other activity. So when you’re in a situation that you don’t like, it’s hard for it not to just steal the joy of your day to do day life. 

And when you’re stuck in a job that you hate, it can be tempting to want to leave as quickly as possible. However, quitting without having something else lined up can create it’s own set of problems.

In general, as tempting as it may be, I  recommend that you do not quit your job with nothing else lined up. 

And throughout this article, I’m going to talk about the primary reasons I don’t think you should quit your job without something else lined up. I’ll provide some recommendations for what to do instead of quitting without something else lined up, and I’ll also share a few scenarios where you may actually need to leave before you have another job.

Reasons Why You Should Not Quit Your Job Without Something Else Lined Up

1. You Won’t Get Paid

The first reason why you shouldn’t quit your job without something else lined up is an obvious one. You won’t get paid.

Now, not getting paid will more tolerable in some circumstances than others. If you have other sources of income outside of your day job, you may be able to sustain not having a job for a while. Alternatively, if your spouse works that could hold you over. Or, if you’ve been planning this move and have some money saved up, then not getting paid could be fine.

However, each of the circumstances that I listed above tends to be the exception. Generally, not getting paid is going to hurt your short and long term financial situation and you won’t want to lose an income if you can avoid it.

2. There Will Be a Gap in Your Resume

There is some debate as to whether or not a gap on your resume looks bad. Ultimately, in reality, a gap on your resume isn’t the end of the world.

However, one of the risks that you’re taking by quitting your job without something else lined up is that you don’t know how long of a gap that you’ll be creating. Even in a hot job market, you don’t know exactly how long it will take you to find another job. And while a short gap of a couple of months in one thing, there’s potential that you end up with a much larger gap that you will definitely need to explain.

On top of that, rightly or wrongly, you run the risk of a potential hiring manager making assumptions about why you have a gap in your resume prior to inviting you in for an interview. Common assumptions could be things like:

  • This candidate got fired from that job
  • Something is wrong with this candidate for having such a long gap
  • This candidate couldn’t handle the stress of the previous job because they chose to leave without another position

Ultimately, you want to limit things that could hurt you in the job search and having a gap on your resume is one potentially avoidable risk.

3. You Lose Out on Skill Development

If you quit a job without another job lined up, you do lose out on skill development for a period of time. Now, this isn’t as big of a concern if your intention is to change career paths.

However, if you know that you want to work in the same field, you ultimately want to become a master of your craft, and losing out on skill development for a period of time takes away from that.

4. You Will Feel Pressure to Select Another Job

The last point is the most important one, in my opinion, and that’s that you will feel pressure to select another job. When you’re looking for a job while you have another job already, you can afford to be more patient. Yes, you may not like that job, but you’re still getting paid and honing your craft.

The longer you don’t have a job, the more pressure that you feel to find a new one. And as the pressure builds, the more likely that you are to take a job that you don’t really want, which may put you back in the same situation that caused you to want to leave in the first place. 

What To Do Instead of Quitting Without Another Job

Rather than quitting your job with nothing else lined up, there are some alternatives that you can do to a) make your job more bearable while you’re in it and b) help you find another job more quickly.

1. Practice Mindfulness

Something that has really helped me personally when I’m in a tough spot in a job is practicing mindfulness. Things like meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling helped me to create some mental separation from the stresses of my job and make the tough times more bearable.

If you’re in a place where you really can’t stand your job, establishing a mindfulness routine can help you to manage those emotions as you’re looking for something else.

2. Accurately Assess Why You Hate Your Current Job

Before you start looking for another job, it’s important to properly assess why you hate your current job

The book What Color is Your Parachute, talks about seven key aspects that make up a job:

  • Compatibility with the people
  • Workplace conditions
  • Skills used
  • Purpose
  • Knowledge
  • Money 
  • Location

Some or all of those could be reasons that you don’t like your job. And prior to leaving or looking for a new one, it’s important to accurately diagnose why you don’t like your current situation and find something different with in your next step so you don’t end up in the same situation again.

3. Set Your Job Criteria

Building from an accurate diagnosis of why you don’t like your current job, you’re next going to want to set your job criteria.

Your job criteria is a written set of requirements that you would have for a new job that you’re looking for. Basically, it would cover the details that you’re looking for on all of the seven different factors of a job. 

By having that in writing, that will guide the process of what jobs you apply for, the questions that you ask during the interview process, and which job you ultimately take. And it will help you to do that in an intentional, unemotional way.

4. Aggressively Apply for Jobs

Once you have your job criteria laid out, then you can begin your search in earnest. And if you hate your current job, you’ll want to start aggressively applying for new positions. Now, you’ll be doing it with intentionally based upon the job criteria that you defined, but once you know what you’re looking for, then you go after it with focus and determination.

5. Interview Well

The final step in the process is that once you have some interview lined up, to go out and interview well. 

Know why you are a great candidate for the positions that you’re applying for and then go out and deliver that message in the interview process.

A complete guide for how to ace an interview is here.

When To Consider Quitting Without Something Else Lined Up

Hopefully, this article has convinced you to not to quit without something else lined up. And it’s given you some steps that you can take in lieu of quitting without something else lined up.

However, there are legitimate cases when you may need to seriously considering quitting without another position in place. There are three big ones that stand out to me, and I’ve listed them below.

1. Ethical and Reputational Reasons

To me, the biggest reason that you would quit without another job lined up is for ethical and reputational reasons. If you’re pressured to do something that is unethical, or the company has done something that doesn’t align with your values, then you may very well want to cut ties with the situation entirely. 

An example would be executives from better.com resigning after the CEO laid off 900 people via a Zoom call. Now, there’s nothing inherently unethical about lay offs. However, the manner in which it was done, in combination with subsequent actions by the CEO, showed a total lack of empathy for those that were losing their jobs. It also brought the overall workplace culture into question.

The executives that resigned from the company were all those that worked in communications, PR, or marketing and would have been responsible for doing damage control on the situation and communicating externally on behalf of the company. Ultimately, they decided that they didn’t agree with how it was handled and didn’t want to associate their reputation with trying to defend the situation.

At the end of the day, you only live one life and you only have one reputation. It’s important that you carry yourself ethically and be able to sleep at night with the decisions that you make.

2. Moving To A New Geographic Location

In our increasingly remote work context, moving to a new geographic location isn’t as much of a hard requirement to quit your job as it once was. However, there are certain industries and positions that still do require you to be physically present to do the job.

If you are required to be physically present to do a job, your family has made a decision to move, and you couldn’t find a position prior to the move, then you may need to quit your job without something else lined up.

3. Significant Health Implications

The final case where you may need to quit without something else lined up is due to significant health implications. If you simply can’t meet the requirements of your job physically, or if you’re in such a bad mental state that you can’t function in work or your personal life, in may be the right call to leave your job right away.

Conclusion

In general, I recommend not leaving without something else lined up. You’ll lose out on pay and skill development, and will feel the pressure to find something else quickly. Now, there may be some situations where you have to leave without something else lined up. And that’s ok if that’s the case for you. However, in general, I recommend taking the alternative set of steps recommended above prior to doing that.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan serves as a career counselor on the side. He writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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