Quitting without another job lined up can be scary, and for many people it’s not the right move.
But there are situations when making this decision can help you advance your career or improve other areas of your life. This guide takes a look at all of them!
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The Pros of Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up
It’s usually the case that quitting without another job lined up is not ideal, but there are some potential advantages that come from taking that route. It’s also important to note that in recent years, more people have quit without another job lined up, making it less of a black mark on your work history. Here are some that might make this decision worth your while.
You Can Recharge Before Stepping Into Something New
Let’s face it: Everyone deserves a break. It doesn’t matter why you’re leaving your current job. The fact that you’re considering quitting without another job lined up likely means that it was emotionally taxing on some level.
When you quit before having another job offer, one benefit is that it gives you some time to recharge and regroup. It’s an opportunity to take some time away from the workforce and give yourself room to breathe.
Many professionals rarely spend any time unemployed, and it’s not hard to see why. Not having a paycheck coming in can be scary! But having time to refresh a bit might be exactly what you need.
You have more freedom than you do during your standard vacation or transition time when switching employers. Spend a few weeks traveling or devote some time to improving your mental health. Whatever you do, that time can help you gather your thoughts and prepare to step into something new.
It Gives You More Time to Pursue New Opportunities
Another perk of not having something lined up when you quit a job is that you have time to explore new opportunities. Having a fulfilling career is important, but your life is probably different now than when your career began.
Is the line of work you do now going to continue being meaningful in the future? While you may switch employers, you’ll likely work in the same field and do many identical tasks.
Having time to reevaluate your career goals can be quite helpful and give you an opportunity to explore new possibilities that excite you. You may want to use your skills to pivot to a new industry or take your career in a different direction. Or maybe you want to enter an exciting field you have no experience in!
Whatever the case, it’s your chance to make those decisions. You can reevaluate what you want, figure out how to get there and take steps to have a fulfilling career.
Jumping immediately into another job often doesn’t allow you to take a step back and rethink your long-term goals, so having a brief employment gap could benefit you.
You Won’t Have a Draining Job Impacting the Rest of Your Life
If you’re leaving an emotionally draining job, taking some time could help you get back on the right track. Many fields take a lot out of workers. While you may have had no problems tackling tough challenges or dealing with high-stress situations in the past, things might be different now.
Many realize that those once fulfilling careers now impact their family, social life and mental health. Taking a short break can be an effective way to ease that burden. You can take time away from work to step back and see what’s important. It’s a chance to reevaluate your career and find ways to ensure that it’s no longer affecting your life in the way it is.
For example, that break could help you realize that the long work hours you’ve put yourself through for years are no longer sustainable. So, you find new opportunities that allow you to find the right work-life balance.
Now that you know about the potential benefits, let’s talk about the risks of quitting your job without another lined up. While it might seem appealing to take several months off work, it’s not always possible. Here are some reasons you might want to reconsider going down this road.
The biggest reason people usually try to align their departure from an old job with the start of a new one is to prevent financial uncertainty. Your job now provides a steady paycheck you model your entire life around.
Whether you’re a strict budgeter or not, you rely on that paycheck to cover your living expenses and support your lifestyle. Abruptly ending that income stream can be scary!
If you don’t have any money saved up, this is not something you can ignore. You need money to pay your rent or mortgage, recurring bills, etc. Without savings or incoming money, you could easily ruin your financial situation and experience pitfalls that continue to hurt you for years.
The Stress of Wondering When Your Next Opportunity Will Come
Finding a new job isn’t always easy. Some industries have high demand, and you can easily find another job in the area without much issue. But for other fields, you could be in for a long waiting game.
Hiring processes are lengthy, and you may go through several rounds of interviews with multiple companies without getting a single offer.
That uncertainty can be difficult to manage. Many people struggle to deal with the stress of waiting. Even highly qualified professionals with great credentials have no guarantees. You never know when opportunities will come, and you’re at the whims of an ever-evolving job market.
Why You Might Decide It’s the Right Move
With those risks, most people will only consider quitting if they have something else lined up. Despite the potential benefits, many feel the stakes are far too high.
But there are many situations in which quitting without another job makes sense. Here are a few examples.
1. You Need Time for Education or Training
If you’re leaving your current job because you want to further your career, you may need time for additional training or education. For example, your desired position may require another degree or specialized credentials. Or, you may need to obtain new skills to move into another type of role.
Working full-time doesn’t give you much time to pursue those endeavors. In that case, taking time off could be your only option.
A gap in your career affords you the freedom to pursue additional education or training, and it’s easy enough to explain when you start interviewing for new jobs.
2. You’re Burnt Out
Burnout is very real, and the stresses of your career can easily seep into other areas of your life. Most employers get that, so explaining a gap in your employment history usually isn’t a problem.
When you feel you’re on the brink and need time to focus on your mental or physical health, please do it (assuming you can afford to make this move of course). There’s no shame in taking a brief sabbatical and prioritizing your well-being. In fact, it can benefit you in the long run.
That time off allows you to refocus and recharge. You can figure out your next steps without the pressure of finding a job. You might discover new passions or unlock opportunities you didn’t think were possible in your career.
Most importantly, you can focus on yourself, ensuring you reenter the workforce confident and ready for action.
3. You Have a Financial Safety Net
Having a financial safety net is one of the biggest hurdles for people wanting to take time off. So if you have one and seriously want to take a break, this will allow you to do so.
A financial safety net means you have enough savings to support your life and fiscal responsibilities as you take time off. Alternatively, you may have a partner who makes enough to take care of your family while you’re in between jobs.
If you’re lucky enough to be in that situation, the risks of quitting without another job lined up aren’t as severe. But remember to crunch the numbers conservatively when determining this!
4. It’s the Right Time to Pursue One of Your Passions
If you have passions you’ve considered pursuing, now might be the right time to do it. Maybe you’ve thought about turning a hobby into a full-fledged career or toyed with the idea of starting your own business. If you have good financial stability and can afford to take time off, there’s no better time to see what you can make from your passions.
Many people have things they want to pursue, but their jobs prevent them from seeing the full potential of those ideas. When you’re ready to move on from your current job, you may consider spending a few months seeing where those passions take you.
Who knows? It could uncover new opportunities and a brand-new career that you love.
5. You’re Working in a Toxic Work Environment
Finally, let’s talk about toxic work environments.
Many people quit without having another job lined up because they’re at their wit’s end about where they work now. Toxic work environments can drain you of your joy and happiness and make an otherwise great career feel numb and meaningless.
It’s not great for your mental health to continue operating in those environments. If you have everything else in order and can realistically take time off, removing yourself from the equation could be what you need.
While some people might not agree with your choice in those moments, leaving a toxic work culture is often the right way to prioritize your well-being. Sure, you’ll have to spend time searching for new employment. But at least you can do so at your pace while recharging and taking steps towards greener pastures.
A Checklist for Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up
After weighing your pros and cons, you decide that quitting without another job offer on the line is the right move for you. What now?
Preparation is key. Follow these tips to prepare for your departure.
Figure Out How Much Time You Can Afford to Be Without a Job
The first thing you need to do is crunch some numbers!
Finances are the most important thing to consider before taking any time off. You need to cover all your bases to ensure you’re not strapped for cash while searching for another job.
Take a hard look at your spending to create a realistic budget. Focus on the essentials like your living expenses. You have more wiggle room with discretionary spending. It’s up to you whether you want to stretch your budget or limit your time off to maintain your current lifestyle.
Don’t forget to consider any traveling you want to do.
Another consideration is health insurance. Think about how you will obtain and pay for coverage while not employed.
Your goal is to understand how long you can go without a job before things get serious. That timeframe will give you peace of mind and help you plan your upcoming employment gap.
Next, you’ll have to look at your finances and set aside money to last as long as needed. The general rule of thumb is to have approximately six months of living expenses saved because a full-time job search will take longer than you expect.
Remember: You’ll have no money coming in. Whether relying on savings alone or budgeting with a partner’s income, you must set as much aside as possible to accommodate your gap.
For some, it can be helpful to set this money aside in a way that prevents them from accessing it on a whim. Again, prioritize the essential living expenses and bills. Put that amount aside, and don’t touch it. You’ll need it to ensure your time off doesn’t cost you in the long run.
Research the Job Market & What Other Opportunities are Out There
It doesn’t matter how long you take off or what you plan to do during your employment gap. You need to do your due diligence and research the job market.
You can’t go into this experience blind. Learn as much as you can about the current market and think about what opportunities you want to pursue once you start your job search. You should look at job boards to see the types and quantity of jobs available in your desired field. Also, talk to people in your profession to get their take on the job market.
Knowing what opportunities exist can dictate how you spend your time off. You may realize employers are more likely to hire people with credentials you don’t have. Or, you may find fewer positions in your area than you initially thought.
What you learn during your research will help you make informed decisions about what to do next.
Update Your Resume
The best time to update your resume is before you resign. The information is fresher in your mind and you won’t have the stress of updating it under pressure later. You won’t have much luck finding a new job if your resume is outdated and doesn’t reflect your current experience.
Take time to update this document to make it as impactful as possible. The information you include should include relevant information and include accomplishment bullets. Researching current resume formats is also a good idea, especially if it’s been more than a few years since you last updated it.
Some hiring managers you speak with during your job search will question you about the gap in your employment. Prepare for that discussion and consider using your resume to explain it. You can include details about how you took time off to improve your skills or expand your horizons.
Reach Out to Your Network
Just because you’re leaving the workforce for a bit doesn’t mean you should ignore your network. Reach out to your professional contacts to get some feelers about the industry. Use networking platforms like LinkedIn to let others know you’re searching for opportunities.
Contacting people in your network is a great way to learn more about the industry. You can see what opportunities exist and better understand how you can make yourself more competitive once you start your job search.
When you are ready to job search, reach out to these contacts and remind them that you are now actively looking for new jobs and specifically state the type of role and companies you are interested in.
Take the Leap
Once you take care of the logistics, it’s time to make your move!
Planning is essential when you want to quit your job without another opportunity lined up. Follow the previously covered steps and get your ducks in a row before you leave.
When the time comes, remain professional. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. How you resign can still reflect on your professionalism.
Give your current employer proper notice and spend your remaining time working as hard as you would if you weren’t quitting. Leave on a good note, and your employer may put in a good word for you once you start searching for your next opportunity.
As you can see, there’s a fair amount of preparation that needs to be done before quitting a job without another lined up. You need to look at your financial situation, the job market, and figure out what you want from this change in your life.
But if you’ve done the planning and everything checks out, making this decision might benefit you in the end!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.