Quitting your job without having another job lined up is no walk in the park.
On the one hand, you can’t stop fantasizing about walking into your boss’s office, handing in your resignation, and just spending the next couple of months relaxing, taking a couple of trips, getting your sh*t together, meeting new people, spending time with friends and family, and eventually landing your dream job!
However, after a while, doubt starts creeping in.
- “How am I going to make rent and cover my bills?”
- “What if I become unemployable forever and end up living on the streets?”
- “I’m going to fail and I’ll have to beg for my job back.”
- “If I become sick I’ll have no medical insurance…”
No, I’m not a mind reader.
Truth is that a while back I was in the exact same position…
…and it took me about 2 years of going back and forth with myself until I finally made up my mind to just go for it.
In the hindsight, the whole process was much less scary than I expected and if I had to do it all over again, I’d probably bail out a lot sooner.
That being said, in this article, I’m going to share with you some actionable advice, tips, and insights that‘ll guide you through the process of properly preparing the ground for quitting your job without another job lined up as fast and painlessly as possible.
Let’s get cracking…
When You Should Quit Your Job Without Another Job
Most career experts strongly advise against quitting a job without having another one lined up…
That’s mostly because it is widely accepted that being unemployed could hurt your chances of getting hired by potential employers.
While it’s true that recruiters can be negatively biased towards unemployed people, according to BusinessNewsDaily, being unemployed could increase your chances of landing a new job as it motivates you to invest more time and effort in your job hunting efforts.
That being said, jumping ship without having anything lined up could be considered an equally valid course of action as having found another job beforehand.
In fact, there are 7 instances where the benefits of quitting your job as soon as possible even if you don’t have another one lined up could greatly outweigh the risks of leaving yourself incomeless for a few months.
Let’s take a closer look…
1. You Can’t Conduct Your Job Hunt Properly
Job hunting is comprised of multiple steps, most of which (e.g. updating your resume, applying for jobs, writing cover letters, etc) can be easily completed during your off-work time and/or over weekends.
However, there’s one step that’s rather tricky to pull off in conjunction with a full-time schedule…
Since most employers conduct their interviews during normal working hours, most of the interviews you’ll be invited to will probably collide with your current working schedule.
Unfortunately, for most of us, getting off work for an hour or so right smack in the middle of the day for any given reason is not an option.
And while a few employers might understand and appreciate your dedication to your current workplace obligations and be willing to reschedule the interview at your convenience, most won’t…
As you can understand, such scheduling conflicts could result in missing out on tons of potentially solid opportunities.
Truth is that job hunting is a full-time job by itself…
As such, conducting it properly on the side of an actual full-time job might be nearly impossible.
In such a case, leaving your job to fully commit yourself to your hunt for a better opportunity might be your only way out.
I had no time or bandwidth to search for another job, but I went into a blind panic whenever I thought about quitting without something lined up. Then my husband suggested saving enough money to cushion myself and quit to devote my full attention to finding a more desirable job. It took me nine months to make my exit.
Thanks to being able to confidently and fully focus on rethinking and updating my job-related documents and online presence, targeting companies, networking, and interviewing, I found a gratifying editing position within just two months. Job hunting is a full-time job.
– Karen Condor, Insurance & HR Expert, TheTruthAboutInsurance.com
2. You Can’t Keep Your Job Hunt Confidential
As unfair as it might sound, in many countries, including the US, an employer is legally entitled to fire you if they find out that you’re looking for another job.
That being said, maintaining confidentiality over your job hunt is of paramount importance…
However, if your current job is in a narrow industry or you live in a small town with a tight-knit community, keeping your job search hidden from your current employer might be nearly impossible.
In such a case, the benefits of proactively quitting your job might be far greater than the risks of holding on to it.
For instance, unlike unexpected terminations that catch you completely off guard, resigning voluntarily gives you absolute control over the terms and timing of your departure, allowing you some buffer time to plan out your next steps, lay some groundwork, and prepare your finances for the shift.
In addition, according to Zippia, a resignation can be easily framed in a positive light to future employers…
On the contrary, terminations are usually associated with numerous negative perceptions about your work history that could be hard to shake off.
Getting fired can cause a major blow to your professional reputation, leave a long-term scar on your resume, and damage future references.
A few additional advantages of resigning over being terminated include:
- Experiencing feelings of freedom and power
- Freeing up time and energy that you could devote to your job hunt
- Not having to worry about your employer finding out
- Keeping bridges unburned
3. You’re Being Abused
Long-term exposure to workplace abuse (e.g. bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination) could give rise to numerous mental health issues, such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Emotional burnout
- Feelings of humiliation
- Increased levels of stress
- Sleep disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic attacks
- and even Suicidal thoughts
Shockingly, all of the aforementioned issues are also commonly reported by victims of sexual abuse.
This means that undergoing workplace mistreatment could be as harmful to your mental health as being sexually assaulted.
Having said that, if the work environment you’re being subjected to daily is toxic in any way, pulling the plug on your job as fast as possible might be crucial towards shielding your mental health from becoming completely f*c ked up.
4. Deteriorated Physical/Mental Health
Just like workplace mistreatment, chronic work-related stress fueled by one or more unfavorable aspects of your job (e.g. excessive workload, unrealistic deadlines, lack of support, long shifts, etc) could also induce several physical and mental health issues, such as:
- Frequent headaches & migraines
- Increased blood pressure
- Inhibited immune system
- Fatigue & brain fog
- Back and/or chest pains
- Weight loss/gain
- Nausea, constipation, and/or diarrhea
- Digestive disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- & more
As such, if you can’t remember the last time that you left your job unstressed then you need to start countering the situation urgently before your health and well-being end up seriously and irreversibly damaged.
Always remember that:
- No job is worth sacrificing your health and well-being
- Dealing with health problems is much harder than dealing with temporary unemployment
I once worked as a cybersecurity manager at a renowned IT company. After a few months of working there, I felt burned out. I could no longer bear the stress and pressure. So I decided to leave without securing a new job first to unwind and recover from the toxic work environment.
Two months later, I started applying for a new job. I polished my resume and mentioned the reason for my employment gap. To my surprise, I was immediately hired to a job with better compensation and benefits compared to my last one. That being said, having an employment gap on your resume won’t hold you back from finding a better job.
– Jeff Walker. Founder/CEO, Best VPN Canada
5. Unsafe Work Environment
Every year, thousands of workers get injured and/or killed on duty due to unsafe working conditions, including, but not limited to:
- Exposed wiring
- Slippery/littered floors
- Dangerous stairways
- Bad lighting
- Lack of safety gear (harnesses, safety masks, hard hats, etc)
- Broken equipment
- Hazardous materials (chemical substances, asbestos, benzene, etc)
- Falling objects
- Improperly adjusted workstation
- Overexertion (frequent lifting and/or carrying heavy objects)
- Repetitive microtasks
- & more
More specifically, according to a report published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, 2.8% of all employees suffered from some kind of nonfatal workplace injury.
Another BLS report revealed that during that same year, one worker died of fatal occupational injuries every 99 minutes.
If your work environment poses a direct threat to your health, physical integrity, and/or life, ditching it without having another job lined up is not just totally justifiable, but also highly suggested.
Again, no job is bigger than your own health, well-being, and life.
6. The Company is Involved in Unethical/Illegal Activities
Not all companies are being operated equally…
While some might go out of their way to ensure that they maintain a moral and honest workplace culture, others may take part in unethical and/or illegal practices, such as:
- False product claims
- Consumer fraud
- Financial fraud
- Pyramid recruiting
- Referral selling
- Breaking environmental laws
If you believe that your company partakes in any kind of illegal and/or unethical activity, then it’s probably in your best interest to start moving towards the exit as soon as possible, especially if there have been attempts to involve you in such activities as well.
Being tied to a company that’s been exposed for engaging in unethical and/or illegal practices can make you much more unemployable than having no job for a few months ever will.
7. You’re Experiencing a Personal Life Crisis
Sometimes, life happens…
Maybe a loved one passes away and you need time to grief and recover…
Maybe a family member gets sick and you want (or have) to devote your full attention to caring for them.
Or maybe, you’re going through a quarter or mid-life crisis and just need to take some time off to clear your head and start conceptualizing your life’s true purpose and meaning.
In any case, if you’re experiencing a serious crisis in your personal life and your job feels like a dead weight that holds you back from dealing with it, then quitting it even if you have nothing lined up might make perfect sense.
In some countries, leaving your job due to workplace mistreatment or unsafe working conditions might qualify as “constructive dismissal”.
Constructive dismissal occurs when an employer’s working conditions are so intolerable that the employee is forced to resign.
Since such resignation isn’t truly voluntary, it’s considered a termination thus granting you the right to make monetary claims against the employer.
Nevertheless, if your job poses any kind of risk to your mental and/or physical health, you should seriously consider quitting as fast as possible regardless of whether your resignation could qualify as constructive dismissal or not.
How to Quit Your Job Without Another Job Lined Up
Quitting a job without having another one lined up is an inherently risky move.
Approaching such a shift impulsively and haphazardly is even riskier…
Making your exit before putting any sensible efforts towards laying the groundwork for your coming period of unemployment could result in finding yourself in an equally bad or maybe even worse situation.
Having said that, if you’d like to ensure a smooth and painless transition that’s going to promote your career goals and potentially lead to work fulfillment, take stock of the insights I’m about to share with you right below.
1. Get Your Finances in Order
Being stressed over running out of money while being jobless could force you to make bad decisions that’ll get you nowhere near your goals (e.g. taking a random job you couldn’t care less about solely out of the necessity of covering your living expenses).
Properly prepping your finances before leaping into unemployment is key to eliminating such financial worries…
Start by cutting down unnecessary expenses, including, but not limited to:
- Buying crap you don’t need
- Ordering takeout daily
- Partying every weekend
- Using your car for short distances
- Paid subscriptions you don’t use (gym, TV packages, online services, etc)
Small sacrifices for a short period of time could eventually make a big difference in your life.
Moreover, consider downgrading as many aspects of your lifestyle as you possibly can (moving to a smaller apartment/house, getting a car that consumes less gas, etc).
Once you’ve cut back on all unnecessary expenses, start mapping out your monthly budget.
Creating a budget is essential to developing the right spending habits, saving money, and ensuring that your money is spent where it should.
Lastly, save enough money to fully take care of your remaining expenses for the coming 6-12 months, plus some extra for unforeseen emergencies.
Having a financial cushion will give you enough breathing space to confidently implement your action plan without worrying about being unable to pay your bills.
Prepare yourself financially for unemployment. The last thing you want is to be forced into taking a less satisfying job because you’re running out of money. Assess your monthly budget and current savings, and use that information to determine what kind of nest egg you’ll need to build to sustain your lifestyle while changing careers.
– Matt Erhard, Managing Partner, Summit Search Group
2. Reflect Upon Your Values
Working in a profession that’s in line with your values is paramount to leading a fulfilling and satisfying life.
As such, devoting some time to reflect upon your values and figure out the types of jobs that align with them is key to ensuring that you won’t end up looking for your way out of yet another job a few months down the road.
Investing time and energy into gaining some clarity regarding your values now will save you a lot of heartaches further down the line. Some good ways to gain that clarity include practicing meditation, journaling, and consulting with a professional.
– Declan Edwards, Founder, BU Coaching
For instance, if you value peace of mind you should attempt to identify less demanding jobs that’ll allow you to work at your own pace without being pressured about meeting deadlines…
Likewise, if you value working without having someone constantly breathing down your neck, you may want to consider ditching the 9-5 grind altogether for self-employment.
Dedicate time and energy to reflect, assess, and explore opportunities you might be interested in pursuing down the road. After taking the time to research industries and positions of interest, reach out to professionals willing to share a conversation with you to gain more insights into what the potential career can entail.
– Benjamin Farber, President, Bristol Associates
While this process can be approached on the side of your full-time job, doing so with an unobscured mind once you’ve already set your foot outside the door will probably yield much better results.
Leaving your job without another job lined up will create the much-needed space to reflect upon what truly matters to you.
– Dr. Amy Smith, Clinical Director and Counselling Psychologist, Therapy Central
Consulting with a career coach can get you a lot clearer on your direction.
Utilizing assessments such as StrengthsFinder 2.0, Myers-Briggs, DISCAssessment, and/or Strong Interest Inventory could help you determine key positions and industry sectors that align with your personality, interests, and values.
3. Put Together an Action Plan
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
– Benjamin Franklin
Creating an action plan is essential to boost motivation and commitment, optimize time and resource utilization, and increase the chances of reaching your goals.
Optimally, your action plan should be in place before handing in your notice…
This way, instead of spending weeks or maybe even months of your work-free time trying to figure out what to do next, you’ll have the option to start acting upon your plans the moment you’re out of the door.
Knowing what you want to do before quitting will save you weeks of planning so that you can act on your goals immediately.
– Michael Humphreys, Founder & CEO, Z Grills Australia
Your action plan doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around job hunting…
It could involve taking some time off to travel, getting your mental health back on track, taking classes, doing volunteer work, researching industries and positions of interest, networking, freelancing, launching a passion project, etc.
Avoid spending way too much time and energy trying to piece together “the perfect plan”.
Always remember that a good plan implemented today is much better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.
Just outlining your next few steps is more than enough to get you started.
Once you’ve gained some momentum, you can start improvising depending on your circumstances.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
4. Expand Your Network
Networking is at least as important as job hunting.
– Craig Zevin, COO, UBERDOC Inc
Networking is more vital to professional success than ever…
According to Matt Youngquist, president of Career Horizons, at least 70% of all job positions are filled by word of mouth without being advertised publicly.
As such, intentionally broadening and maintaining your network could increase your chances of finding out about desirable job openings you’d probably never stumble upon all by yourself.
The easiest way to cultivate your network is by regularly touching base with people you already know such as family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
Furthermore, you could start leveraging public meetings, social events, social media, and volunteering towards acquiring new connections with professionals who are involved in the field(s) you’d like to enter.
If you play your cards right, some of them might be willing to recommend you to their employer, give you a good reference, or offer you tips and insights into becoming a more valuable and attractive candidate.
Start networking with people in your field of interest by joining professional groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Eventually, you may connect with someone willing to help you achieve your goals.
– Joanna Zambas, Career Expert, CareerAddict
Start interacting with people who work in the industry you’d like to break into. That saying about “who you know” is still very relevant. If you don’t know anyone, volunteering might help you meet them.
– Kim Brown, Writer, Condo Control
5. Start a Side Hustle
According to Bankrate, over 43% of full-time employees in the US are currently running some kind of side hustle.
That’s because side hustling enables you to pocket some extra money while pursuing an interest of yours without sacrificing the security of your full-time job.
If aren’t involved in a side hustle yet, you should seriously consider launching one with the first given chance.
Ideally, get it up and running a handful of months before handing in your resignation.
This way, by the time you leave your job, your side hustle could be bringing in enough money to cover some or all of your bills, thus completely alleviating the stress and pressure of finding another source of income as fast as possible.
Leaving the security of a paycheck will be much less stressful when you’re bringing in some income, no matter how small. The worry of being unable to pay your bills might trigger you to accept a job that doesn’t satisfy you.
– Emily Cross, Ph.D., Founder, and Principal Consultant, The Wordwell Group
One of the most alluring aspects of side hustling is that it could potentially turn into a full-time gig.
Tons of currently successful entrepreneurs had started their businesses as a “passion project” on the side of their full-time jobs.
Start a side hustle that could turn your passion into a livelihood. I know a handful of people who went down that road after losing their jobs during the pandemic, and right now, they couldn’t be happier. Yes, it will be tough at first. But if you fully commit, you’ll eventually reap the fruits of your labor.
– Sam Lowy, CEO & Insurance Agent, Life Insurance Star
Some side hustle ideas that you might want to consider pursuing include:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Selling Info Products
- Social Media Influencer
- Virtual Assistant
- Selling Photography
Furthermore, as per Carter Seuthe, Vice President of Content at Credit Summit, getting a freelance gig or contract job in the interim could also help you keep yourself afloat.
Ryan Smith, Founder of Ant & Garden Pest Control goes on to add that there are dozens of freelance and gig portals that could enable you to earn some extra money per month without even having to leave your house, such as:
- & PeoplePerHour
6. Trust the Universe
No matter how much you think it through or how well you’ve prepared yourself mentally and financially, the moment that you’ll feel 100% ready to dive headfirst into unemployment will never come…
And while quitting without being financially prepared or having an action plan in place isn’t suggested, overstaying at a job you’re longing to leave is something you’ll probably eventually regret.
That being said, if your finances are in order and you have a sense of the direction in which you’ll be moving, put your trust in the universe, make the leap, and hope for the best.
Quitting a job without having another lined up is a leap of faith… Just jump and the universe will catch you.
– Ravi Parikh, CEO, RoverPass
Truth is that no amount of overanalyzing and overplanning will ever help you completely mitigate the fear of setting sail into the unknown so you might as well jump ship sooner rather than later.
You don’t need to have it all figured out. If you have an idea of where you want to go next, the rest will fall into place.
– Manny Vetti, President, BackTaxesHelp
7. Keep All Bridges Unburned
Sometimes plans fall apart…
Regardless of how thoroughly you’ve planned your shift to unemployment, you might find yourself in need of a steady source of income ASAP.
In such a case, your soon-to-be former employer might be one of your best shots to getting back on the horse.
That’s why no matter how much you hate your current job, you have to make sure that you resign with utmost grace and professionalism.
Try to avoid setting fire to the saloon as you ride off into the sunset. Having the option to return to your current job if things don’t work out as expected often comes with a lot of positives.
– Nicole A. Bryan, Ph.D., The Change Doc
Furthermore, with most organizations contacting former employers for reference, leaving a job on bad terms could negatively affect your employability.
How you leave your job might have a big impact on how fast/easily you secure the next one.
– Paul French, Managing Director, Intrinsic Search
Giving more than 2 weeks’ notice and helping your employer with the onboarding of your replacement is perfect for ensuring that your departure doesn’t burn any bridges that could potentially hurt your reputation.
Lastly, if your boss asks why you are leaving, instead of pointing out how much you hate your job, try to emphasize that you’re after pursuing other opportunities to advance your career.
Many people quit with an aggressive attitude, burning all bridges, so there’s no option of turning back. Staying on good terms with your employer is essential for rejoining them if you find yourself lost somewhere along the way.
Giving a good two months’ prior notice before leaving can count in your favor, and seem courteous.
– Anjela Mangrum, President, Mangrum Career Solutions
8. Gather References
According to a survey published by Society for Human Resource Management, 92% of employers conduct reference checks as part of their hiring process…
A reference check typically involves contacting an applicant’s former employers, supervisors, and/or co-workers in an attempt to verify information such as:
- employment dates
- reasons for departure
- and employability
A lack of good references will almost certainly hurt your chances of landing a new job.
That being said, gathering a handful of solid references before leaving your current job is crucial to maximizing the efficiency of your upcoming job-hunting efforts.
A list of credible references should always be a tool in one’s job-hunting toolbox.
Individuals that could serve as references include:
- Former bosses
- Business acquaintances
- and colleagues
Leaders, coordinators, and/or other members of volunteering activities you might take part in can also be used as references.
Using friends as references is also acceptable on select occasions and as long as they occupy a position in your field of interest.
According to The Balance Careers, on average, employers contact three separate references per job candidate.
Ideally, try to provide a mix of references with at least one being relevant to your latest employer.
This way, recruiters will be able to shape a well-rounded view of your value, experience, credibility, past work performance, character, and work ethic.
Strong references prove your value as an employee, substantiate your experience, provide a valid third party who will vouch for your credibility, and help you stand out from other applicants with similar resumes and work experience.
9. Communicate Your Concerns
If your exit is a few months in the making, communicating your dissatisfaction towards your job to your boss or the HR department of your company could slightly improve your situation until you’re ready to jump out.
Sometimes, in an attempt to ensure that you’ll be sticking around, management may be inclined to make concessions that’ll alleviate some of your concerns, such as:
- Offering a more flexible schedule
- Giving you a leave of absence
- Suggesting a transfer
- Regulating your responsibilities
Yes, confronting your boss or escalating to HR is a risky move…
If they’re not open to receiving constructive feedback, voicing your concerns could render your work environment even more uncomfortable.
However, at the end of the day, since you’re going to leave anyway at some point, attempting to make your job more tolerable until that time comes will practically cost you nothing.
Just make sure to avoid mentioning that you’re planning to quit at all costs or you might find yourself out of the door sooner than you’d planned.
10. Beware of Naysayers
Upon announcing that you’re planning to quit your job without another job lined up, chances are that you’ll come up against a torrent of negativity from almost everyone you know.
Some will strongly criticize your decision, others may attempt to talk you out of it, and a handful select might think you’ve lost your marbles and call you crazy.
Letting naysayers poison your mindset with doubt, could dramatically decrease the likelihood of achieving your career goals.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you need to understand that other people’s doubt about your ability to pull through is a reflection of their own fears and inadequacies, NOT yours.
Moreover, make sure that you heed the counsel only of experts or peers who’ve made the leap.
All feedback provided by individuals who speak beyond their knowledge without having ever attempted anything of a similar nature is extremely unlikely to be constructive and valuable and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Nonetheless, not every word that comes out of a naysayer’s mouth is invalid.
Quitting a job without another job lined up is indeed a risky, scary, and challenging move…
No one can possibly guarantee that you won’t end up failing…
However, always keep in mind that failing to achieve something is much better than not trying at all.
I know that leaving the steady paycheck and security of any given job without having another job waiting for you is a hard decision to make.
However, there are times that there’s just no other option…
After having gone through such a shift myself, I can safely state that with the right mindset and preparations, your transition to unemployment won’t be nearly as risky and terrifying as you think it’d be.
And truth is that if you put in the required effort into achieving your career goals, you’ll eventually find your way into a profession that fulfills you much more than your current one.
Always keep in mind that your time in this world is way too limited to be wasting it working a job you hate…
And sometimes the only thing standing between you and the first day in a job you love is the last day at a job you hate.
Thanks a lot for your kind words Sreesanth. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
All the best, and stay safe,