Quitting your job without a new job lined up

I know several people who have recently quit their job without another one lined up. Some have saved up a lot of money, so they can afford this life change. Others have had it so much with their job they’re willing to suffer financially and even physically until they find a new one. That might mean buying cheaper groceries, losing health insurance, or ultimately moving in with a family member.

I think it’s really a slap in the face when one of your employees quits without another gig. It’s like the person disliked working for you so much that he’d rather have no source of income than one of your paychecks. Sometimes, though, it’s totally worth it to leave a company without any immediate work plans. If your job is so stressful or time-consuming you don’t have the motivation or opportunity to look for another job at the end of the day, then you’ll be stuck with this job forever.

If your job is so mindless or frustrating you are depressed each day you have to show up, then continuing with this job is probably not the best thing to do. It’s probably better to quit, improve your mental state, and figure out what you want to do next. You’ll have the time and proper disposition to identify your objective, apply for jobs or grad school, and do what else it takes to achieve your goal.

I know people who think you should never quit a job without having another one lined up. Well, generally speaking I think this is a good philosophy to have. But, in extreme cases this guideline shouldn’t be followed. And for those who disagree, I wonder if they’ve ever been in an extreme work situation before.

I, for one, once left a job without having another one lined up. Here are some tips for how I got by (until I found another full-time job):

  • I got up early every day (like I was going to work).
  • I figured out what type of job I wanted.
  • I applied to relevant jobs.
  • I took a course to improve my skills.
  • I did a couple of unpaid internships to bolster my skills.
  • I took on multiple part-time jobs to get by financially.
  • I redid my resume to reflect my newly acquired skills/experience.
  • I led a balanced life by exercising, cooking and seeing friends.

All of these things helped steer me on the right path. Sure, I was making less money than I was at the job I left. But I had much more time, a less stressful work life, and a better state of mind for figuring things out. Money, you know, isn’t everything. I must confess, however, I had some financial support from people close to me. Not everyone is so fortunate. But if I hadn’t had this blessing, I would have altered my life in some way to still quit the job. Maybe I would have moved in with a family member. Or taken out a loan. Whatever the case, I would have stopped working so I could better position myself.

Some people are afraid to quit a job without another one lined up because they fear a gap in their resume. Companies will indeed admit that they are more likely to hire someone who’s working than someone who’s not. But the trick is to keep your resume current by working at a part-time job or interning somewhere that’s relevant to your ideal path. So what if the gig isn’t full-time or remunerative? The fact you’re doing it now shows it’s what you’re committed to at this point. And if it’s similar to the job you’re applying to, all the better.

I have a friend living in northern Africa (I met her while studying abroad in southern France) who has been unemployed for about a year now (she’s looking for a marketing or communications job). I’ve spoken with her online, and she says she won’t take a part-time job or unpaid internship because she deserves a full-time job. She said she’s paid her dues by going to school and undertaking a few internships and part-time jobs here and there, and has no desire to go backwards. Well, in my opinion, she is going backwards by not keeping her resume current.

I hope she finds something, but fear her philosophy will keep her from doing so. I find the topic of jobs (and the economy) really interesting right now. I voraciously consume any media related to this topic, whether it’s radio shows (like this excellent one), Boston Globe articles (like this one), or something I read in another newspaper. I think it’s largely because I know a lot of people who have been impacted by the poor economy (including a friend who has been out of work for a year and a half), and I really wonder if things are going to improve.

I think it’s also because my background is in journalism, one of the hardest-hit industries over the last few years. It really doesn’t seem like things are going to get much better in this field (in terms of journalists’ pay, news organization revenue, etc.). Call me pessimistic, but I truly believe people are becoming less and less willing to pay for content. Either they won’t pay because they can find what they’re seeking elsewhere (for free), or the content isn’t that worth it to them. A lot of times the news people truly care about is related to their friends and family members. They can often get this information from the horse’s mouth, or from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Anyway, I’m not optimistic about the future of the news industry, but I’m also not optimistic about the future of other industries. The gap between the rich and poor seems to be increasing, while jobs are being sent abroad. I guess all we can do is try our best to get by and improve our skills (especially the ones we think will really matter in the future).

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18 Comments on “Quitting your job without a new job lined up”

  1. Hi Christine,

    Loved this post! I think we were talking about this very topic with Karen, right? I agree with you about your friend that is unwilling to take any part-time/temporary work. I think this is probably hurting her. I know this was an important part of me quitting my job when I didn’t have another one – I was willing to basically do anything if I couldn’t find a suitable job in a decent amount of time. I knew it would only be temporary anyways. Hopefully she finds a job soon.

  2. Christine Laubenstein Says:

    Hey Amanda,

    Yup, our conversation is what inspired me to write this post:-). After talking with you I realized I know quite a number of people who have quit their jobs without having another one. Thanks for your kind words about my friend. I hope things work out for her, too. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!


  3. […] made me think about this was a post on my friend Christine’s blog entitled, Quitting your job without a new job lined up, and it made me think of my own […]

  4. Sydney Parks Says:

    Everyone says not to do this, but I hit the point I wanted to quit my job without another one lined up, too. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have anyone to help support me, but I took out a loan. I’m considering it an investment in myself.
    I gave a month’s notice, but when that’s up, I realize it’s going to be really important for me to follow your advice about making every day a full one, getting up as if I were going to work, etc.
    Thanks for supporting others in this risky, but hopefully fulfilling, endeavor. I hope my story eventually ends up being as helpful. http://www.getunstuckblog.com/2011/07/i-quit-my-job-without-another/

  5. […] Quitting your job without a new job lined up « I’m not pretentious … Dec 8, 2010 … I know people who think you should never quit a job without having another one lined up. Well, generally speaking I think this is a good … […]

  6. Jon E. in Houston TX Says:

    Great wisdom and advice! Thanks for your www site! Have a blessed 2012!

  7. […] Quitting your job without a new job lined up « I'm not … I know several people who have recently quit their job without another one lined up. Some have saved up a lot of money, so they can afford this life change. […]

  8. akash gupta Says:

    i am facing the same situation…..and it helped to relax a bit..and focus on future….But the thing which i am struggling is…that i was very happy in my previous job…and left it for a monetary increase they were ready to pay me that much upon my resignation because i was doing some good work and they valued but somehow i changed mindlessly because i thought working for a bigger company would be better…but the job here is so mindless that it doesn’t allow to showcase my skills in a true way…it’s been close to 9 months in this company and i am really struggling…. i hv not no value whatsoever in this organization and nobody is wiiling to listen either….each day the frustation is increasing what should i do…..i am also not able to find a new job.

  9. H Says:

    I’m in this position right now. I graduated last year with a background in graphic design, did a couple of internships and then got a job with a newspaper and the pay was peanuts but I didn’t mind. That is until me and my fiance decided we needed better jobs to pay for our wedding, so I took on a job with a bank in early Jan. and in hindsight, this was probably the worst decision I’ve made. Sure I have health insurance, but what’s the point when I’m constantly stressed and upset everyday because I’ve been yelled at by a customer or have to deal with my co-workers rude sense of humor about how I dress and that I’m not working hard enough to sell their campaigns and open accounts. I’m so sick of it, but I don’t know what to do. I have to pay my student loan, and pay these vendors for the wedding. Both my parents are in their own personal rut and I feel bad for bothering them especially because I’m already living with my mom.

    • Stareyes07 Says:

      @ H –you have to leave that job and do something that is better fit for you. You only have one life.

  10. J Says:

    This is a good post! I quit my job and did have another one lined up, but it looks like this new place isn’t going to give me hours. I’m going to try, but if that doesn’t work then I will be out there looking for another job again. I was sad to leave the place I was at, but it was too stressful for me, and after a couple of years it held no meaning to me either.

    Yes, people always say have another job lined up when you quit, but if you’re in such an extreme situation it’s hard to do so. Going to the doctors and telling them you’re not coping will be helpful.

  11. Hlanganisa Says:

    i just resigned two days ago. I don’t have a job lined up and currently studying BTech: Business Administration part time as well. This article has kind of helped me see what I can do. I don’t think I want to be in the tourism industry any more. I will just use this time to see what other option I have and try and grow my skills. I’m not sure yet how I am going to Rent my place and my bills but i am willing to take temp jobs if something comes up.

  12. deephopes Says:

    Reblogged this on deephopes and commented:
    its my state too .. really helpful and motivating post

  13. Dina Says:

    Just a quick thanks for posting this. Surprise surprise, I also quit my job without another one (because of stress), and I’m glad I’m not the only who did something like this! I will have to make sacrifices (i.e. moving in with family, taking part-time work at god knows where), but posts like this remind me that it can all still be ok 😉

  14. Ashe Says:

    I am stuck in a place that I hate. My brain is turning into a vegetable. Itsca mindless place where I have to go snd just sit on my butt for 7 hours or so, and I hate it because I believe I csn do so much better than this. I am not saying that the money isnt good..its actuly so good but I can’t take this anymore. I want a real job..a job that I realy enjoy snd care about. I don’t have another job lined up but I don’t have it in me to suffer another day. God give me strength for one more week before I call it quits.

  15. Valerie Says:

    I came across your article looking for support to make a tough decision like you made. Thank you. I feel the same as you and did not find many advice articles like yours. I’ve saved for a rainy day and terribly unhappy at my job (been there 6 months). I’ve never quit a job without one lined up but just can’t cope here anymore. My manager validates my feelings and agrees its terrible but asks me to hang on and be patient. I’m afraid it’s a culture problem that will not be resolved in even six more months. It is just her and me trying to bring project management into a department fiercely resisting.

  16. Sarah Says:

    I graduated with a degree in Biology and have been at a position for over a year now. But I’ve come to be quite unhappy, even though it’s part time! I worked at “the bottom” from which all successful people tell me to start at, but I think enough is enough if I’m not happy and it’s affecting my performance. Everyone’s telling me to stay and I know that it would seem wise, but inside I feel like I’ve even developed some sort of depression from being there. Reading this article has helped. Thank you : )

  17. I enjoy, result in I discovered exactly what I used to be looking for.
    You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a nice day. Bye

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