Is it Really Time to Quit?

by Julie Vick, Senior Career Advisor

“I didn’t have enough time to look for a new position so I quit my job to devote myself to job hunting.  It’s taking so long to find a new one.”

“I resigned because I didn’t like what I was doing and started looking for a new job right away. I can’t believe how difficult it is and I still don’t have a job.”

As a career advisor, when someone tells me that they resigned from their job to look for a new job I immediately wish they’d been in touch with me before they made that decision.  The old adage, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is true, especially in the often-challenging job market we’re currently experiencing.

Reasons to job hunt before quitting:

  • Having a job makes you more confident even if it makes you feel frazzled to do your job and look for a new one at the same time.
  • If you apply for a job while not employed some employers will question why you’re not working and will wonder if you were fired.  On the other hand, if an employer sees that you’re currently working that makes you look “hirable”.

At least get busy networking.  Involve yourself in your professional/regional association.  Have coffee or lunch with people where you work who are in different departments.  Get together with people through our alumni association to share information about different kinds of work.  If you’re unfamiliar with networking, read one of our recent blog posts: “Curiosity & Careers: How Informational Interviewing Can Build Your Network (Revisited)”

If you decide to quit:

  • Don’t quit in anger.  It might give you momentary satisfaction but in the long run you may regret an angry outburst and it certainly won’t help you get a good reference.
  • Ask yourself if you can afford to quit.  Make a plan to have enough savings to draw from for a minimum of six months but, ideally, for a year.

Realize that not only employers but friends and family may question why you left your job.

If you do quit:

  • Develop a believable and, possibly, compelling narrative about why you quit but focus on the future and what you will bring to a new position.  During the job search don’t ever say anything negative about your former employer even if you had a terrible experience.
  • Have something else to be doing in addition to the job search such as a regular volunteer commitment.  You need something to give structure to the day and something that gives you a degree of success.

When you’re employed again have your antennae up for friends thinking of quitting their job without another in sight and give them some advice based on your experience.