Rage quitting is all over social media. It gets engagement for a reason - we all secretly want it to be us. There are screenshots of conversations that any dissatisfied employee would love to have with their inept boss, alongside the inevitable monologues: “I’m off, I’ve had enough, I’ll find a better job.” Oh, you haven’t secured another role? Good luck with that.
Quitting a job without another lined up is the ultimate workplace mic drop moment, and interestingly it isn’t always the worst idea. Of course, as long as you leave with your reputation and relationships intact. If you have suitably considered the pros and cons, leaving first, and looking later may well work out fine.
In this blog, we look at how to work through the practicalities and decide whether such a bold move is right for you. The cookie-cutter advice from some self-styled job search experts is to never quit a job before you have found another, but the reality is much more complex. This is not taboo, and it may well make sense for several reasons. We look at:
- How emotions can hijack your decisions
- 12 reasons for quitting before a job search
- 8 risks of resigning without a job lined up
- Balancing risk and reward when you blind quit
Take your time and consider the words in the blog carefully. Telling your boss that you are quitting a job without a new destination could ruin you. Or it could give you the freedom to make an epic career move.
Don’t let your emotions hijack your decisions
If you are clear about your reasons for quitting, the next question is timing. Once your head is filled with thoughts of pastures new, you run the risk of letting your emotions dominate your decision-making. You conjure up all sorts of wonderful scenarios, losing yourself in the possibilities. Then yet another disaster unfolds at work and your finger hovers over the send button of the carefully crafted resignation email. As your brain shouts silently, “Come on, just leave all this madness behind you. Right now. You’ll find another job.”
It is tempting to give in to all these thoughts, but try to keep a cool head. Run through the logic of leaving your job without another waiting for you. Why do you need to take such a step? Are you in a position to do it? Have you prepared sufficiently to hit the ground running? Will it lead to a better outcome?
In the rest of this article, we will balance the reasons with the risks.
9 Reasons for quitting before a job search
If you have slept on it enough times and you think that it is time to quit your job without another waiting for you, please know that you are not alone. There are plenty of reasons why someone might send off that resignation letter before they conclude their job search – if you make sure to mitigate the risks it is a very real option.
If you are employable and you know that there is a demand in the market for your skills, it is only a matter of time (and a lot of concentrated effort).
Here are nine reasons that may sway you to hand in your notice early:
1. More time for job hunting
Conducting a thorough job search requires a tremendous amount of time and energy. Quitting before you have another role can free you up to prioritize your activity. The constraints of combining employment with job hunting can also weigh heavily on a job seeker. At worst, they can detract from performance on the job.
If your employer senses that you are looking elsewhere because you are clearly taking time off for interviews, relationships can go downhill quickly. Making a clean break in a professional manner is sometimes the optimal decision for both parties.
2. Improved mental health
Looking for a new role when you are still in a stressful role may not lead to an optimal outcome. When leaving a toxic work environment, it’s possible to feel like a new person the moment that you walk out of the door.
If you can mitigate the risks of quitting before you have a new role, the bounce in your mental health could give you that extra impetus you need. Any job search is tough, so accumulating the mental firepower to go the extra mile could make all the difference.
3. You want to take a break
Sabbaticals and career breaks are increasingly common. Hiring managers may well look kindly on someone who takes a break before carefully considering their next move. If you do not have too many gaps in your resume over the past decade, giving yourself some career breathing space could be a wise move.
If this is the case, you can pick your timing carefully to ensure minimum disruption to your previous employer and make sure that you leave on good terms.
4. External commitments
Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. Some of those can mean that you are no longer able to work for an employer. If you need to resign without another job lined up, do not fear. Every decent employer understands that this is common. The fact that you are a victim of circumstance will not reflect badly on you.
Whether you are relocating to accompany a partner who has a new job or needs a flexible schedule to care for a loved one, do not hesitate to quit your job if you feel this is the right thing to do.
5. You have prepared meticulously
Sometimes you are just ready. In an ideal world, you would do all the thinking and preparation required for a job search, work your notice period (with an understanding that you will be attending interviews), and then come out with an ideal job 6-8 weeks later.
This is the brave option, but if there is a demand for what you have to offer there is no reason why this cannot work out well for you. Don’t forget the mental preparation. The moment that you hand in your notice, the pressure will ramp up exponentially.
6. Get ahead of the mass exodus
If the business is starting to fail you see the writing on the wall, trust your gut. There are no participation medals for being the last to leave a sinking ship. It is also likely that your employer won’t be the only one struggling in your industry.
If you can identify a more secure employment path, resigning early without a job to go to could be a great way of maximizing your presence on the market and building quality relationships with recruiters. It may be better to resign before you are made redundant, even if you forgo some redundancy pay – this gives you a vital head start in your job search.
7. Studying for a career change
Sometimes it isn’t possible to jump straight into a new career, so a period of flexible employment alongside studies is a common way of making the change. Juggling study with a full-time job is almost impossible, so quitting with the view of getting a job after a period of study is a great way to show just how dedicated you are to your future path.
Sure, learning on the job is great, but there is nothing like losing yourself in the books and arming yourself with the qualifications that will help you to excel.
8. You are thinking of starting a new business
While there are certain things that you might be able to do to develop a side hustle before branching out on your own, many employment contracts will contain restrictive elements that may stop you from starting your own business in earnest.
Starting a new business is a huge undertaking, but if you believe in your vision then you need to give it every chance of succeeding in those crucial early months. You likely won’t be able to do this if you are still engaged with a previous employer in some capacity.
9. Personal reasons – enough said
While external commitments may be one reason, sometimes there are personal reasons that begin to weigh so heavily that they compel you to make an immediate change. While you may not wish to discuss them during a future interview (and can probably make up something else), sometimes leaving a job is just the reset button that you need.
Preserving relationships and resetting the work/life blend is sometimes only possible with a clean break. You put yourself and your loved ones first – which is as it should be. You’ll get a new job soon enough, but you may not get another chance to repair a relationship.
3 Risks of resigning without a job lined up
The extra mental strain of quitting your job without another lined up is inevitable. You cannot possibly know how the job search will work out (even firm offers can disappear overnight), so staring into the career void for any period of time is somewhat terrifying.
Also, if you can cope with the immediate loss of supportive colleagues, you are stronger than most. You will need to rely not only on your personal support network but also on your belief in yourself. You can only resign if you know deep down that you will prevail.
Having said this, there are three very practical risks that cannot be glossed over with a great attitude. You won’t have your salary at the end of the month, you will lose your healthcare and other benefits, and you will have a (growing) gap on your resume that future employers may well latch onto. Let’s look at these three risks in a little more detail.
1. Lack of income
When you are setting yourself up for a job search, financial concerns will be front of mind. You need to be realistic about how you will support yourself without a monthly salary. Severance packages dwindle alarmingly rapidly, so ensure you have more than enough runway to dissipate any money worries.
You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you feel that you need to take a job because the cash is running out. That defeats the point of quitting your previous job early. Six months of expenses should do it, along with an emergency plan around where you can save money.
2. Loss of healthcare
If you live in a country where healthcare insurance is linked to your employment, resigning means that you will likely lose these benefits. Depending on your contractual arrangements, healthcare may continue for a while after your departure, but this is far from guaranteed. In the U.S. for example, this is a significant reason why some people may want to stick with their current jobs before they find another one.
There are other benefits such as company cars and various allowances that would also be immediately missed. Think about the bigger picture if you quit your job without another lined up. How would your life need to change?
3. Gap in your resume
Imagine that it takes 4-5 months to find a new role. This may be fine in terms of your short-term timescale, but this is a gap that is significant enough to notice on a resume for any employer a few years down the line. Such gaps are more normal for more senior professionals, but if you are in your early career this may raise a few questions.
Certain hiring managers may have an unconscious bias around job hopping or career gaps. If you are not employed for any length of time, you need to be able to explain why.
Balancing risk and reward when you blind quit
Leaving a role without another job waiting for you will never (ever) be an easy decision. You cannot predict the future and who knows what force majeure moment may come along to ruin your best-laid plans.
Ask yourself the tough questions. What will you gain from taking this bold step? If the worst-case scenario plays out, how will you cope? Convincing yourself that everything will somehow work out is not an option that will help you to sleep well at night. Sit down, write down all the key considerations on both sides of the equation, and see where you stand. Do this at least three times before you press the button – you owe it to yourself to be as sure as you can be.
Like any decision in life, if you take this step for the right reasons then you reduce the possibility of any regrets down the line. You cannot control everything, but if you are willing to work hard and if you stick to a solid plan, then you will have every chance of success.
- Be aware of how your emotions are impacting your decisions.
- Work through your reasons for leaving without a job to follow.
- Be honest about the practical risks that you will face.
- Understand that you are not the only person who will be doing this.