Quitting Without a New Job

Career Blog

When a boss, co-worker, or customer adds the straw that feels like the last, it’s tempting to consider quitting. It might even be fun ­– fantasizing about the big storm out. And in the right economy, assuming you have low expenses and in demand skills, it might even be doable.

But is it smart? No. The brief moment of satisfaction will be quickly replaced by a crushing financial reality. 

Simply put, you should never leave a job without a clear next step. It could be another role, a prosperous side hustle that is ready for prime time, or even an intentional break that allows you to advance your education or re-stoke your professional flame. Whatever it is, make sure you have the details of your next move sorted before you head for the door. Before you quit you should also ensure you have enough cash in reserve to cover expenses and healthcare during the transition. 

Why Quit?

People quit jobs for two reasons: (1) they are moving toward a better opportunity or (2) they are running from a bad situation. Escape is tempting, but before you barge into your boss’ office for the grand tell-off, try to picture what the next day will look like. Again, even if you have a game plan sorted, take back emotional control by exiting in style, professionally and with grace. Leave on your terms…thoughtfully.  

Explaining the Move

Recruiters often ask about transitions…what led you from one opportunity to the next. Candidates with a string of successes and logical moves stand out over those with short tenures and haphazard career choices. This doesn’t mean you should stay in a bad situation until you reach some magical milestone, but you should be prepared to explain any career gap or misstep.  

An easy way to accomplish this is to use the word “because.” The term is incredibly powerful especially when followed by a logical action. Ideally, a career transition sounds like, “I left position X because I was recruited for an exciting opportunity at company Y that would advance my skills. Of course, life doesn’t always work that way. 

In cases where transitions were not ideal or (gulp) not your choice, honestly works best. Letting a recruiter know that you were laid-off, made a career misstep, or took a role that was below your skill set for a specific reason is understandable as long as you offer a rationale for the decision, a glimpse of what you learned from the experience, and how this role is better suited for your skills and aspirations. 


Once you’ve considered all the angles and feel comfortable in your decision to leave, do yourself a service and give proper notice. It’s funny but the only thing more powerful than a first impression, is the last one. Make sure you leave them wanting more.

Need a career coach? Contact me via www.PlotlineLeadership.com.

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Photo by Marcus Aurelius

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