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Should You Ever Quit Your Job Before Having Another One Lined Up?

By Gerald Walsh ©

Quitting your job when you don’t have another one lined up can be frightening. You think: How will I pay the bills? How will I explain it to a potential employer? Will it look like I’m a quitter or worse, a failure?

I know a lot of people who would love to quit their job right now but feel they cannot because of family commitments and other responsibilities. They feel trapped.

What are some reasons why someone  might resign without another job?

1. If your work situation is so stressful that it is affecting your health, it’s time to consider leaving. This is especially true if your employer is unsympathetic to your plight and unwilling to help by providing counselling.

2. If you feel your physical safety is being compromised at work, you should think about leaving. Concerns for your physical safety can result from being asked to use unsafe equipment on the job, or by working with someone who is unstable and threatening you with physical harm. In both cases, there are channels for reporting these concerns but if you have done so and nothing changes, you should leave..

3. If your work is having a negative long-term effect on your personal life, it’s time to think about moving on. Long working hours, a lengthy commute, or consistently heavy workload can easily mean you spend most of your waking hours at work. Life passes quickly. You don’t want to miss too many of your kids’ school concerts or hockey games, or quality time with your spouse. It’s time that can never be reclaimed.

4. If you believe your employer is engaging in illegal or unethical behaviour, you should leave before your own reputation becomes blemished. You will be surprised how quickly blame gets assigned to innocent bystanders, like you. You don’t want someone else’s behaviour to reflect badly on you.

5. If you are being sexually harassed at work (or if you see signs of sexual harassment), you should immediately report this to human resources or senior management. If human resources doesn’t help you, or if the person doing the harassing is senior management, you should leave. Your own security is more important than a job.

6. If your core values do not align with your employer’s values, you will quickly end up in a personal quandary. For example if  your employer is only concerned about making money and you value selling quality products, good customer service, and an employee-friendly workplace, it is highly unlikely you will be able to reconcile your values with your those of your employer.

But before you go ….

Leaving, of course, is scary. Most of us are risk averse and don’t want to place ourselves and our families in jeopardy. Here are few things you can do to get ready:

Prepare a budget and save some money.

Make sure your immediate family is on board. This is really important.

Prepare a gracious resignation letter to your employer. Make it short and don’t offer  the real reasons why you are leaving. You may need them as a reference.

Update your resume and all job search materials.

Clean up your social media presence.

Prepare a list of people in your network whom you will contact the day you leave.

Gather at least three good references – one of which should be from your current employer. If you are uncomfortable asking your boss, ask a colleague, direct report, or client.

Rehearse what you are you are going to say in an interview about why you resigned your previous job.

Investigate whether there is part-time or contract work you can do while looking for a new full-time job.

Don’t always listen to your friends. While they may be well-intentioned, they might not be able to imagine they would do the same thing themselves and might pressure you to take any job – even one that is not the right fit.

Create an exercise plan and watch your diet. You will need to be healthy and strong to carry out an effective job search.

Question: Have you ever quit your job without having another one lined up? Tell us your story.

To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at walsh@geraldwalsh.com


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.