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Most conventional wisdom states that, when switching jobs, you should keep your current job until you have a new job offer. However, I find that I would really like to leave sooner rather than later, and enjoy (as I am under no financial pressure) a break between jobs.

Some of my reasons to leave early are as follows:

I'm finding it difficult to interview & technical screen and "put my best foot forward" in my job search process while I am still working at my current employer. In particular, some of my potential employers would require me to relocate (which I would be happy to do), but I find it awkward to take holiday hours to do an in person interview with them. (See also: Is it considered acceptable to take vacation time for job searching?).

Even if I am not able to find a job quickly, my field allows for contract / freelancing work, which I have entertained, since I prefer to be my own boss as well. (Future question: how do I transition from a salaried job to contract / freelancing work)


I would like to give my two weeks notice now, but most advice tells me to continue working. Despite this advice, my gut tells me that I should quit sooner. What are the key reasons to stay rather than leave now? What are some other potential benefits to leaving early?

(Similar: Why is quitting without having a new job lined up seen so negatively by employers?)

  • 1
    Hey forivall, and welcome to The Workplace! Questions usually get the best answers when they focus on a single question that inspires people to explain why and how. Right now you are asking three questions: "Is it bad to quit without something on the side?", "Does small income from side projects count as something on the side?", "Is it okay to take time off work to hunt for something full-time?" Any chance you could edit your question to focus on one of the three problems so we can give better answers? – jmac Nov 19 '13 at 23:46
  • Thanks. I'm active on other stackexchange sites, but, as these are "softer" questions, it's hard to focus them on a single question. I split off one other question, and clarified my other; I hope that's adequate. – forivall Nov 20 '13 at 0:19
  • Thanks for being an active participant. I know that it can be a bit complicated because of the 'softer' nature of the site, so I recommend taking a look at our help center for a bit of guidance. In particular, asking "What should I do?" is a general no-no here because it doesn't explain why or how, and because we want to provide resources to allow you to make that decision. So "Why do people recommend having another job lined up before resigning?" would be a far better question, as it would go in to the why at least. – jmac Nov 20 '13 at 0:26
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    Having a bunch of question swirling around suggests it would be a good idea to wrap up the work you're doing, take some time off without searching for another job, and spend some time thinking about what you want. It seems like you're tripping over details because you aren't articulating a long range goal. – Meredith Poor Nov 20 '13 at 5:20
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Some of the reasons why conventional wisdom says, 'No, don't quit your job until you have another one lined up':

  • Job searches can take a LONG time, often many months or even years. That's a long time to be out of work with no income and no active experience. (And a side project might or might not convince them it is continuing experience.)
  • People who are employed look better to employers. So it's easier to get a job if you have a job. (Which doesn't always make sense, especially in light of the next point.)
  • You have more leverage in salary negotiations if you're employed. If you're low-balled for a job, you have to be able to walk away from it, and if you're starting to need money, it's a lot harder to walk.
  • If you're in the US and some other locations, you're often not eligible for unemployment benefits if you left the job (unless it was for some terrible working conditions).
  • If you walk away from a job, you'll be asked about it in the job interview, and your answer can count against you. They're not going to want to hire what looks to them like a quitter, so you really need some good reasons for why you left without another job lined up.
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    Great summary of the reasons behind the conventional wisdom other than just "don't live off your savings if you don't have to" – Carson63000 Nov 20 '13 at 0:36
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    For your last point, why would there be a difference between "Why did you quit your job?" and "Why do you want to quit your job?"? Aren't you going to look like a quitter in both situations? – svick Sep 17 '15 at 6:48
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    @svick If you're able to keep working while looking for another job, then you can give reasons why you want this new particular job, rather than just say why you want to leave your existing job. That is what is expected. If you leave a job without a new one, then it's clear there were problems with that job that were so bad that could wouldn't or couldn't stay. That's a potential red flag to the new employer, because they don't know if the previous job problems were from the employer or you, and they'll ask. – thursdaysgeek Sep 17 '15 at 17:07
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    If you're still working, you can defer that question much more easily, and you aren't a quitter, because you haven't quit. You're just looking for an even better opportunity. – thursdaysgeek Sep 17 '15 at 17:07
  • @svick: Maybe you are right. There may be companies who only hire people whose company went bankrupt, who were fired for some reason, or who come fresh out of school. – gnasher729 Nov 14 '17 at 22:55
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The accepted wisdom is that no, you should never quit your job without securing a new one except in the most extreme of circumstances. e.g. serious harassment, extreme stress affecting your health, etc. I doubt many people would advise you to quit your job simply because you find it awkward to interview whilst still employed!

But of course, everyone's circumstances are different. It's nice that you have a financial buffer against being out of work, but is it wise to use up some of that buffer in a non-emergency situation? I wouldn't do it myself.

As for your side question: of course you should feel OK. Holidays, annual leave, etc., there are entirely for you to do with as you wish. Whether you spend them interviewing for better jobs, or drinking cocktails on the beach in Barbados, that's nobody's business but your own.

If you're leaving your teammates in the lurch by taking time off without giving an amount of warning that is deemed acceptable in your workplace, that's a different matter. And taking fake sick days to interview (while an extremely common practice) is not particularly ethical. But using your personal leave entitlements to job-hunt is not something any reasonable person could object to.

5

You may not have to, if break between jobs is what it's about.

I have really enjoyed my tho months break between jobs. I have sought for a new job, got offer, went through the process and than have negotiated a mutually acceptable date (two months after my notice period ended) on the contract. Only then I gave my notice.

Hope this works for you, too.


Notes:

May be highly dependant on your locale, I took this break between two jobs in the middle of Europe.

After signing the contract, my new employer wrote that I can start whenever I want prior to the date on contract, should I reconsider break my plans.

3

People have answered about why the accepted wisdom is good, and they are valid points but you also asked

What are some other potential benefits to leaving early?

If you are lucky enough to not to have to worry financially and you are fairly confident that you can freelance if need be, I think taking some time off for a break is a great idea.

Why?

1. R&R

Job searches can be hard work, especially if you have a demanding job. Taking some time to yourself can be great for you, it can give you some time to decompress and evaluate what you want to do next.

2. Travel

Related to R&R but there are some trips that can't be easily done while working where you get a limited amount of holiday time. Long trips and experiencing other cultures can also be great for you personally, giving you a fresh perspective on your life.

3. Training

There may be some skills that you would like to learn or brush up on, this can be hard when you are working full time. You can spend time on a formal or informal course to give you a chance to learn things that will be advantageous when looking for a new job.

4. Community work

This could be open source work, or something local where your experience can be useful. Again this is a good thing to talk about when interviewing and can be good to give you insight into yourself.

5. Flexibility

You kind of mentioned this, but it is worth reiterating when you start to look for work you can be flexible about when and where you interview and you can also be more flexible about start dates and locations, which will not hurt your prospects.

6. Networking

You don't specify your field, but you may find there are events you can go to, conferences or such like, where you can network, talk about jobs and get to know more people in your field. If your current employers won't give you time for this you will be able to go on your own time (and cost). This can be a great springboard to freelancing or to another permanent position.

7. Assertiveness

When you are interviewing you will be able to use points 2-6 above to show that you are a confident go-getting individual who is not afraid to step out of the norm to improve themselves. This is in many cases seen as a good thing and can reflect well on your prospects.

So, of course, there are risks involved in jumping ship without a plan, and these should be seriously considered. But it is far from all downside, used correctly it can also benefit you greatly.

1

It's great if you are that awesome that you can get a job at the snap of your fingers. The advice is more for people who want to err on the side of financial caution.

The advice is mostly to protect people financially, since job hunts drag on, companies hiring can be unreliable or have plans change. It prevents someone from being in a position where, having already left their previous job, if the rest of the world does not view a candidate in the awesome, shining light that they see themselves, they wind up accepting a job that is not at all what they wanted, because they need to re-start the income stream ASAP. Or they don't even have that choice and get into financial trouble that can take months or years to unwind.

In a best of both worlds scenario, if you want to take a break, you can always have your written, signed, accepted job offer with a starting date pushed back another week or two beyond the length of your notice period.

Ultimately, if you are that top-notch and in demand, then the advice isn't really meant for you, it's more for the rest of us who don't have life always aligning as we'd like.

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