Should I quit my current job before I start looking for a new one?

The Great Resignation Crossroads: Should You Quit Before You Look?

The current job market is experiencing a phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. Employees, empowered by a surplus of open positions and a focus on work-life balance, are re-evaluating their careers and leaving jobs they find unfulfilling. This begs the question: should you join the exodus and quit before finding a new role, or should you secure a new position before bidding farewell to your current employer?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The decision hinges on several factors, including your financial security, mental well-being, job market conditions, and the urgency of your need for a change. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both approaches to help you navigate this career crossroads.

The Case for Quitting First:

  • Prioritizing Mental Health: For those experiencing burnout or extreme dissatisfaction, a break from a toxic work environment can be crucial for mental health. Taking time off allows you to recharge, reassess your priorities, and return to the job search with renewed focus and energy.
  • Freedom to Focus on the Search: Without the constraints of a full-time job, you can dedicate more time and energy to crafting a compelling resume, researching companies, and networking with potential employers. This focused approach can expedite the job search process.
  • Greater Negotiating Leverage: Leaving a secure position gives you a stronger negotiating hand when it comes to salary and benefits in your next role. Companies may perceive you as a more in-demand candidate if you’re not under immediate financial pressure.
  • Exploring New Avenues: A break from the workforce allows you to explore unconventional career paths, volunteer opportunities, or even freelance work. This time for introspection can lead you to unexpected and fulfilling opportunities.

However, quitting before securing a new job also comes with risks:

  • Financial Strain: Being unemployed can create financial strain, especially if you don’t have a significant emergency fund. Carefully analyze your expenses and savings before making the leap.
  • Gap in Employment: A gap on your resume can raise questions during interviews. Be prepared to address it honestly and focus on how the time off benefitted your skills and career trajectory.
  • Potential Skills Erosion: Taking a long break from your field could lead to a decline in specific skills. Consider taking online courses or volunteering in relevant fields to stay sharp.

The Case for Finding a New Job First:

  • Financial Security: Securing a new position before quitting your current job provides financial security and peace of mind during the transition. You won’t have to worry about covering bills or experiencing a lapse in health insurance.
  • Maintaining Momentum and Skills: Staying employed allows you to continue honing your skills and gaining valuable experience that can strengthen your resume for future opportunities.
  • Smoother Transition: Leaving a job with a secured new position ensures a more seamless career transition. You’ll avoid the stress of unemployment and maintain a professional reputation with your previous employer.
  • Negotiating Power: While a secure job might seem to weaken your negotiating hand, a happy and productive employee can be valuable to a company. You can still negotiate competitive terms without appearing desperate.

However, waiting to quit has its drawbacks as well:

  • Job Search While Employed: Balancing a full-time job with a thorough job search can be challenging. You may have to dedicate evenings and weekends to applications and interviews, leading to fatigue and burnout.
  • Reduced Motivation in Current Job: Knowing you’ll be leaving soon may make it harder to stay motivated and engaged in your current role. However, maintaining professionalism is crucial for positive references.
  • Missing Out on Opportunities: The hot job you’ve been waiting for might not come along while you’re still employed. Being open to new possibilities even while searching within your current role can help you find opportunities you hadn’t considered.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to quit first rests on your individual circumstances. Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Urgency of Change: How desperately do you need to leave your current job? If your work environment is severely impacting your well-being, a temporary break might be necessary for your mental health.
  • Job Market Conditions: Is your field experiencing a surge in hiring, or is the competition fierce? A strong job market makes quitting less risky.
  • Financial Security: Do you have enough savings to weather a period of unemployment? Consider your financial safety net before taking the leap.

Hybrid Approach:

A middle ground might be ideal for some. Consider discussing a flexible work arrangement with your current employer, allowing for more focused job search time. You could also explore freelance or contract work within your field to supplement your income while searching for a permanent role.


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