I know that it is debated whether quitting a current job before you have a new job offer is a good idea (conventional wisdom suggests that it's not). But in my circumstance, things at my current job seem especially dire:

  1. I have reached the point where I "hate" my job and feel actively depressed as I commute to work in the morning.
  2. I began noticing serious problems with my job satisfaction in the middle of last year and began lots of job searching activity at that point -- so I have been doing many interviews, preparing resumes and cover letters, and searching many job listing sources. I have had no luck at all in the ~8 months that I have been looking, in terms of finding a potential new job that would be cognitively healthy for me. I have also spent a considerable amount of effort trying to tactfully explain my feelings to people in HR and to my manager, but across the board (even though my manager is very happy with my job performance) they have all told me there is no way to change the circumstances of the job that are most negatively impacting me.
  3. Many important people in my life (friends, significant other, counselor, and family) have adamantly insisted that the stories I have relayed about my job and the physical, cognitive, and emotional stress that are evident, are affecting me in severe ways and that I need to get myself away from my current job very soon -- if for no other reason than to stop the process of the way the job negatively affects my cognitive health.

Given these circumstances, I am contemplating just quitting from my current job. It would not be easy in terms of money, but I am not sure what else to do.

I am well aware that I would need to plan ahead for things like health insurance, but what are the other primary points that I should consider or plan ahead for when weighing whether it is a good idea to simply quit?


I am not looking for your normative judgement about quitting vs. not quitting (e.g. not soliciting "is it good or bad to quit" opinions). Instead I am looking for a reasonable list of things to be aware of related to quitting, such as:

  1. How will it impact a resume if I have taken time off for personal reasons?
  2. Aside from the obvious concerns about an emergency fund and health insurance, what are other costs to being unemployed that are less commonly forseen or anticipated.

Of course, Google searching can provide some help on these items. But that's always true of all questions on all Stack Exchange sites, and so merely saying that I should search for help on Google does not qualify as a response.

I hope it is clear from this extra remark that I am not soliciting opinions about whether it is normatively good or bad to quit. I am trying to gather information about the effects of quitting under the specific circumstance that remaining in the job is actively causing harm (versus the relatively more frequent situation where a person merely wishes to quit a job due to disliking it but does not experience significant harm from it on a daily basis).

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    If you have wife/kids I would still say stay and find something new, that is purely my opinion though. If you had real trouble finding work for 8 months, what makes you think a job will magically appear when you resign? If one doesn't what would be the impact? – Lotok Jan 23 '14 at 15:53
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    Hey EMS, and welcome to The Workplace. This question as-is just seems to be asking for us to justify your desire to quit. A quick search will give you plenty of reasons why it is bad to quit with nothing lined up. You admit that financially it will be difficult. What are you expecting us to tell you? That despite it being a potentially colossal mistake, that it is okay? If you have a specific concern you want to cover, please make an edit to bring the question more in line with our help center. Thanks in advance! – jmac Jan 24 '14 at 0:16
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    Hi @EMS, I think you're missing an important aspect of The Workplace Meta and closing in general. The goal is to allow you, and the community, time to fix perceived problems with the post so it gets answers we can measure via voting. From my perspective, this comes off as a bit of a too broad or polling discussion because of the pros/cons focus. But the good news is those types of questions can be edited down, made more concise, and reworded to fit. Also, as a side note, no moderator was involved in this particular closure. This was decided by the community. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Jan 27 '14 at 2:02
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    I have started a discussion on meta. – jmac Jan 28 '14 at 7:52
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    ****some comments removed**** Please don't use comments for extended discussion. Comments are intended to see clarification or help improve a post. I left some of the asker's comments on the question in case the asker or another community member wants to take a shot at editing the post to help get it reopened. – jmort253 Jan 31 '14 at 4:17

Well, first I think you need to deal with the stress. And by that, I mean seek professional help. See if you can find a psychologist or psychotherapist in your general area that specializes in workplace stress.

They have some tools to help, but more importantly, a professional, objective opinion about your stressors is something you need right now. Whether you decide to stay at this job or not, you need this for your own health.

Your stress is affecting your health, so it is certainly coming through in your interviews. There may be some short-term treatments available to help you through this long enough to get your interview process. If getting a new job is the answer, then there is no "shame" or "failure" in getting assistance.

If you know it's affecting your health, and your friends and family see that it's affecting your health, then you need to address the health issue.

  • +1 for "Your stress is affecting your health, so it is certainly coming through in your interviews". There will be a point at which getting a new job becomes easier if you have quit - and in extremis it may only be possible to get a new job after quitting and getting help to restore your mental and physical health. It will not be easy for us to judge where that point is, but you should confide in family and trusted friends who will know just how much this job has affected you, and can weigh up the consequences objectively. – Julia Hayward Jan 23 '14 at 17:14
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    Also, distinguishing whether your job dissatisfaction is the cause of, or a symptom of, serious depression is something you should get qualified help for. If the latter then quitting may well not help. – Julia Hayward Jan 23 '14 at 17:18
  • I have already been seeking help for this. I mentioned this in my post. The professional who has been helping me is among the people who are insisting that I should quit my job even in spite of the financial hardship it may bring. – ely Jan 23 '14 at 18:39
  • It's also worth noting that I have done well enough in interviews over the past 8 months. I have had dozens of call-backs, many on-site and multi-round interviews, etc. But I am extremely gun shy about new jobs due to all of the things I have learned about corporate dysfunction from my current job. – ely Jan 23 '14 at 19:11
  • I don't want to leave this job just to walk right into another situation like this, and so I have been extremely careful to try to calmly and tactfully elicit lots of info about corporate culture, and in my 8 months of searching, even though several firms have liked me a lot, there has not been a single place that I felt would be cognitively healthy or free of the same severe dysfunctions that my current workplace displays. – ely Jan 23 '14 at 19:12

I am going to focus on the core question, which is really how to deal with this bad situation when no other jobs can be found. The common advice to find a new job before quitting still applies.

I'm going to assume that your issues arise from a situation that while significant, is not illegal. HR should be able to work with you to address harassment or bullying. If that is illegal where you work, that could be escalated. If it's a workplace environment issue like being too noisy or dangerous, similar legal worker protections may exist which you could take advantage of.

Assuming there's no illegality going on, and you've attempted to fix the situation with management and HR (as you indicate you have) - you're left with changing your environment. But consider that there's more ways to extract yourself from your situation than quitting.

Depending on the issue, a simple vacation could help. Especially if it's a matter of burnout, getting away from the problems for even a few solid days can provide you the time to recoup. Your situation sounds more severe, but even that beachhead of energy could make a large difference in your ability to combat the problem.

If a vacation won't help, another alternative is a leave of absence. This can provide a longer time to recoup, and sends a strong signal to your company that this issue is causing you to not be able to work. If they value your output, then perhaps that signal will be enough to effect change to keep your output.

In some locations (and depending on the issue), stress and its consequences can be seen as debilitating, which in turn can let you claim a disability. Some locations provide insurance and payment for this disability just as if you broke your leg on the job.

And depending on your company, you could look to transfer departments. If the issue is limited to your particular work (ex. stock trading) or particular environment (commute, boss, coworkers) then changing to similar work or to a different set of boss/coworker/commute would help the issue while not requiring you to jump ship wholesale.


There's a line between these two points:

  • I have to quit because I have a serious medical condition (stress related or otherwise) that I must treat
  • I hate my job, my job is the source of major stress, the only way I see to fix anything is to quit

Only you can say which point you are really at. Stress and the impact of stressors are still a very person-by-person condition. There's a bottom line where some potentially stressful situations are so typical for normal society that pretty much everyone will have to find a way to cope with it if they want to remain part of society. And there are other cases where the stress factors can be so far outside of "normal" that only a few rare individuals will find that environment "OK".

I can't say, without being in your shoes, what your environment is like and what it's doing to you. No one really can.

I will say that if you're job performance is good and you are in no danger of being fired, one very much overlooked answer is to slack off. Do what you have time to do, but don't let the work priorities become so much a part of your priorities that you are feeling stress. I know - easier said than done - but sitting back and underperforming (at least w/ respect to your normal standards) will give you more time and money for the job hunt and puts you in the position of having a job while you are looking for a job.

I will say that if, for example, your work involves human life and your idea of slacking off is to cause others to be harmed by your lack of action - or similar dire results - then you can't just vanish, you may need to get coverage, or take official time off rather than being less diligent on the job.

That said, I can think of plenty of cases where just slacking off may not be enough if your job is inducing a level of stress that pretty much sets in the minute you enter the workspace. The only examples I can think of are moderately ridiculous - developing an intense fear of clowns while working in a circus - but I can imagine that even in a quite traditional workspace, some thing environmental can evolve that simply can't be tolerated (say... your boss screaming obscenities at you quite frequently throughout the day .. again, weird, but I'm sure it's happening somewhere).

The biggest question is what your expectations should be for the next job. Different jobs have very different expectations, and some of this fits into how big a transition you expect to be making. Here's a few examples to illustrate what I mean:

  • Won't Look Good: You are working as a software engineer in a certain business domain, you expect that you'll look for another job in the same field and domain. If you quit "because of the stress" - and I'm interviewing you, I'm going be concerned that you also won't work well under the stressful conditions in my very similar office.

  • Probably neutral - You stay in a field but significantly change environments - for example, you're a line chef in a high pressure open kitchen in a 5 star restaurant. You quit and interview for lower pressure jobs in a cozy Mom and Pop with a closed kitchen and a less challenging menu. First - kitchens can be fairly variable, so stress at one place may be very different at another, second, the stigma against quitting is just lower in this industry.

  • Quite understandable - you quit a job as an ER doctor to become an insurance adjustor. Maybe both jobs are stressful, but they are such different types of stress, that it's understandable that stress in one job is of a completely different type than the other.

There's many shades of grey here - my point is that if this job has you so stressed that you just want to quit, you may need to consider what will be different about the next job, and if you can easily explain it to your next job interview in a way that makes your choice look rational and justifiable.

  • Definite +1 for the, as you say, very much overlooked suggestion to try slacking off a bit. – Carson63000 Jan 24 '14 at 2:17


Dont leave your job, you dont appreciate what you have untill you lose it.... This job is keeping you financially afloat. For this reason, you need to retain it Here are some facts:

  • It is easier to naviagate from Current job to another job.

  • If you are unemployed and started looking for a job employers will think negative of you.

  • There is nothing more stressful than "Not having source of income"

  • BTW it is a quote from Scott Adams, relaying advice that a random businessman gave him before his first job interview. – ely Jan 23 '14 at 20:26

what are the other primary points that I should consider or plan ahead for when weighing whether it is a good idea to simply quit?

One of the primary points you should consider is your financial situation.

You have indicated that you don't have any emergency funds sufficient to cover your costs during unemployment. And you have indicated that, despite trying hard, you haven't been able to find a new position in 8 months of trying.

Unfortunately, that doesn't portend well for your finances should you quit. If your recent past holds true, you can expect to be out an extended period of time, with no income, and no emergency fund.

I would wonder how you will support yourself (and your family?) without income. And I would wonder if that would be a cause of stress and anxiety at least as bad as your current job situation.

You could consider taking a contracting position for the short term, while you look for a permanent job. That could help lessen the financial impact, and keep you on a payroll while you look.

You will do whatever you feel comfortable doing, so we are just providing opinions here. For me, I'd find a way to stay on a payroll while I looked for my next job. That way, I wouldn't feel rushed, and I could be careful enough so that I don't choose yet another bad job situation. If you were part of my family, I'd advise you to work harder to find your next job before leaving your current job.

Although it seems to me that you have already reached a decision, and are just looking for confirmation here, if I'm incorrect and you still cannot decide, this might help: https://www.freakonomicsexperiments.com/ . As wacky as it seems, just taking the decision out of your hands and putting it into an inanimate object might relieve some of the stress tied up in the decision-making process.

  • I am very serious when I say that my counselor has been down exactly this line of thinking with me, and she strongly feels that your quote, "I would wonder how you will support yourself (and your family?) without income. And I would wonder if that would be a cause of stress and anxiety at least as bad as your current job situation." would not be true ... that is, the stress from my current job-related issues is (according to her) absolutely worse than scraping money together while doing a full-time job search after quitting. I am not fully convinced (and have discussed that with her). – ely Jan 23 '14 at 19:30
  • Of course. This is almost true by definition. That's why I asked the question here: to get a sense of the not-mental-health-related topics to plan ahead for, as described by a wide audience. – ely Jan 28 '14 at 13:50

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