This question is about jobs in general, but can be seen as being more specifically about "technical" jobs such as programmers and web designers. In the field of technology, people regularly take time off of their jobs in order to write books, organize seminars, attend trainings, work on open source projects / their own personal projects, and for other personal reasons such as travelling, visiting family and such. In all of these cases, during a certain period of time (maybe a month, six months, or a year), the person is doing fine without having a "normal" job.

Despite this, we seem to always recommend finding a new job before quitting the old one. I don't understand why this is necessary. I see this idea in the Workplace SE often, but never a convincing explanation of it. It seems that everyone just takes it for granted and assumes, "oh this must be true!"

I have my own life experiences that prove it's not true. I took one month off between two jobs in 2014, and did this again in 2018. I don't see anything wrong with this approach. I was never under any pressure to find a job, because I was well-rested (I was unemployed, didn't have to get up early), had much more time to prepare the interviews, and therefore performed better in the interviews.

What are the valid reasons behind the idea "finding a new job before quitting"?

Response to some of the comments:

Q: How did you pay your bills when you were unemployed? How long could you have managed that for? – Philip Kendall

A: I assume we all have bank accounts which are not completely empty. The advice might make sense for those who are struggling to pay their bills, but the assumption "everyone relies on the monthly salary to pay bills" isn't true.

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    How did you pay your bills when you were unemployed? How long could you have managed that for? Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 8:00
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    I happened to read through the duplicates these days. The most convincing anser was, you never know how long securing a job takes. Being financially secure four couple months is on thing. Finding a job and applying the second. Eventually being paid there yet another. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 10:00
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    "we seem to always recommend finding a new job before quitting the old one" Not at all, OP. On every single question where the issue arises, I always say, in short, for good programmers, in today's once-in-a-million-years market, there's no problem whatsoever in quitting without having your next job.
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:44

4 Answers 4


Personally think this is just dogma on this particular stack exchange site. I've personally taken off time between jobs and know many people that have done so to without any ill effects.

Obviously it depends on you personal circumstances: IMO it's ok to quit without a new job if

  1. You have a good enough savings account (as you should have anyway) and some basic financial wiggle room.
  2. You have decent employable skills, are reasonably good in your job and your line of work isn't affected by a major economic crisis
  3. Your professional network is up to date and active
  4. You and your family have at moderate tolerance for risk

On the contrary, you should not leave with out a new offer if

  1. You live pay check to pay check or have major financial obligations with catastrophic consequences if you can't meet them
  2. You are difficult to employee because of your skill, job type, or environment
  3. You have absolutely no clue about how to find a job
  4. You are extremely risk adverse
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    The main benefit of having "time off" between jobs can be attained by chosing your start date for the next job and leaving a gap, as stated by KMSTR in his answer. So the best advice will always be to find another job before leaving, even if for some people will be able to manage without.
    – Jemox
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 9:49

As others have mentioned the primary reason is that it keeps you financially secure. Now obvious personal circumstances vary and some people will have significant buffers to see them through any period of unemployment, but given the job hunt is a fickle beast for many it can take longer than they anticipate and this can imperil them financially. And this can lead to them feeling pressured to take a job they don't really want in order to pay the bills - leading to a cycle of unsatisfactory jobs.

There's also a certain amount of truth to the old adage that it's easier to find a job when you already have one - an employed person is empirically proven to be employable and this can bolster confidence in hiring managers. It also provides leverage during negotiations - if the hiring manager wants to bring the candidate on board they have to offer something better than the candidate currently has, if they are unemployed this shifts the dynamic.

So it's certainly not a universal rule that's always true - but for the majority of cases it's sound advice - and that's why you see it getting recommended so often.

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    Not only having a job is better for the candidate, as they can negotiate, it can be also good for the employer. Unlike if you are unemployed, when you already have a job, you don't need a new one, you want it. This motivation can be seen as a good thing for the employer
    – Kepotx
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 8:37
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    The second point is definitely an important consideration. Since it's something of a societal norm for most people to not quit a job without a new job to go to, anyone doing exactly that has a non-zero risk of raising questions in the mind of the recruiting company even before they've got as far as considering your skills. That first impression can be overcome, but why create an extra hurdle for yourself if it's not necessary?
    – delinear
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 10:38

Being convinced to leave a company (versus asking for a job) usually translates into monetary "motivation". It gives you better grounds for negotiation and is not necessarily about finding a job.

You can still negotiate for a gap where you have time off. This way you win on both ends.


What are the valid reasons behind the idea "finding a new job before quitting"?

To ensure you don't lose out on your paycheck. Also, to state the in correct words, it's not important, rather, it's advised.

One got to pay the bills, so in general, it's advised to get a new job before leaving the current one.

In case, you plan for a time-off between jobs, or want to venture into a new field, that's a different story. When you want to continue your employment, just with a different employer, it's a good thing to have a go-forward plan, for most of us.

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