Updated: Aug 21
Should you quit your job before you have another job lined up? Today, there is no overall disadvantage to quitting your job before you have a new job lined up. It is more personal as to whether you can quit your job.
Advantages to quitting your job before you have a job lined up:
Changes focus and energy. One advantage to quitting is giving yourself time to breathe and focus on just the job search versus trying to job search while meeting deadlines and goals of your day job. All the prework and interviewing for a new role can be exhausting, from tweaking your resume with key words, searching for the right roles, applying to numerous jobs a day, contacting someone who can flag your application to make sure it is seen, setting up and spending time in meet and greets with people in the industry or companies you want to work for, and prepping for each interview. Quitting your current job gives you the time you need to make job searching your full-time job and not have to fit interviewing in between your day-to-day meetings.
Helps mental health. If you are currently in a toxic environment or work for a bad boss, your mental health may be suffering, and that suffering may show up in your lack of energy or overall demeanor during interviews. You may be able to put on a brave face or “act” your way through an interview, but it that heaviness weighing on you may affect your authenticity. Quitting your job gives you an opportunity to breathe and rebuild your energy, and confidence for interviewing for a new job.
Shows courage and confidence. For a long time, it was assumed, "It's easier to find a job when you have a job." That is not the case anymore. COVID-19 changed that perception for many employers. Crafting your narrative around the courage it took to quit your job without a job lined up shows you have confidence in your skills and capabilities and your ability to find a more suitable job. You may find hiring managers who are jealous that you were so brave to do something they may not have the courage to do.
Disadvantages to quitting your job before you have a job lined up:
Lack of financial stability. Without a job you don’t have a paycheck. Consider whether you will be able to financially survive without a paycheck for a period of time. It takes between 60-90 days for most companies to make a hire. While that has slightly shortened because the market is so competitive, you will need to be able to last without a paycheck at least four months. Further, in some countries and states, you may not be eligible for government unemployment if you quit your job, so consider if you have enough savings and how much savings you are comfortable spending before becoming more financially stressed from being unemployed.
Higher medical care costs. Do you need continuous medical care or how will you cover any emergency medical bills in between jobs? Consider the cost of signing up for COBRA (in the US) which is more expensive than your company’s healthcare because you are paying the entire premium without your company’s discount or contribution. If you are not planning to sign up for COBRA, how you will cover medical expenses in between roles? Consider how you will manage a medical emergency and do you have savings to cover it.
Positioning of your unemployment. There is no shame in being unemployed. However, you will need to be able to authentically explain in a positive light why you are not currently working in the commercial workforce. If you left a job because of an untenable situation such as a toxic environment, bad boss, or mental health, those explanations may not be heard as positive, even if one or many of them is true. Therefore, consider if you have another perspective on your departure such as wanting to be deliberate in your next move and you couldn’t wholly focus on the job search working 70 hours a week. While being unemployed searching for a new job isn’t as difficult as it used to be, having a positive perspective on why you are not currently working will help you move past the scrutiny quicker.
Job searching takes a lot of effort and you can’t control the hiring process. The hiring process is taxing and can be exhausting, so the more you prepare for the unknown, the less stressed you will feel during the interview process.