The Great Resignation continues at full speed with record numbers of people quitting their jobs without another position lined up. But, does that make it a smart move? And, when should you simply quit your job without another one lined up? Here is what you need to know about quitting your job without another job lined up.

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation or the Big Quit of 2021 is where people are voluntarily resigning their jobs en masse. The concept was first proposed by Professor Klotz of Texas A&M University as a prediction that Americans would quit their jobs at record numbers. Professor Klotz identified a number of reasons for this record-breaking exodus including burn-out and delayed resignations through the pandemic. The trend started in the summer of 2021 with more people quitting their jobs than prior to the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, that trend has continued through November 2021 for a period of 6 months.

Infographic: The Great Resignation | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

The trend continues at full steam as the end of 2021 fast approaches, but should you join the Great Resignation? The following breaks down when it is better to quit and when it is better to try to stick it out until you find your next job.

10 Times When it is Better to Quit

There are lots of reasons why it makes sense to quit your job before securing another one. Here are the 10 most common situations when people quit first and search later:

  • Toxic Culture. Post-pandemic, people are focused on finding a place where they want to be and feel that they are part of a team. A toxic work environment is one of the biggest drivers to leave an organization. And, it can be right to do just that if the toxic culture is impacting your ability to do the job or otherwise creeps into the rest of your life.
  • Bad Manager. People quit jobs because of other people in most cases. The ineffective or bad manager is one of the most motivating reasons to simply leave. You should leave the job if your current manager is blocking you from achieving what you need to do or isn't enabling you to advance professionally.
  • Return to Work Mandates. Many worked remotely for over a year and are now being told that they have to return to the office. To many, this doesn't make sense and it can be reason enough to simply quit to find something with more flexibility.
  • Overwhelmed. Everyone has been asked to do more for less or for no additional compensation through the pandemic. That only leads to burnout and feeling overwhelmed. Finding yourself overwhelmed by everything can be reason enough to simply step away so you can bring a fresh perspective to a new job.
  • Making Time for a Job Search. Looking for a job and the process of interviewing takes time. That time may not be something that you have. So, quitting to focus full-time on a job search so that you can land somewhere that is a better fit for your career can be a smart move. And, employers can and do appreciate the intention of such a search.
  • Family Reasons. Women have left the workforce in record numbers through the pandemic with the demands of childcare and remote learning. But, parents aren't the only ones that leave their jobs for family reasons. This need to step away for a period of time to attend to family matters is understandable and isn't a career killer.  
  • Protecting Reputation. Not every employer has integrity. So, there are certainly times when it is better for your career to resign from a job or to simply leave an organization to prevent risking your reputation, license, ethics, morals, etc. But, be careful in how you message the situation to future employers to prevent looking like you are bitter or the one in the wrong.
  • Protecting Relationships. Jobs that take a toll on you personally or that impact your key personal relationships aren't generally worth it. Finding your important relationships hurting because of your job or where you work can be reason enough to walk away from the job.
  • Relocation. Remote work may be a strong option, but many employers still want someone in their area. This is generally because of the laws and rules around payroll and HR that can vary between different cities and states. So, moving across the country or across the globe can be a good reason to simply quit your job.
  • Education. The need to obtain additional education or certifications to advance your career can prompt someone to quit their current job. This is typically when the demands of that program require full-time focus. Or, the person wants to use the new education or certification to pivot and they need to spend their time also focused on building that new career.

When Not to Quit Before Securing a New Job

There are also times when quitting seems like a good idea. But, it may be smarter to secure a new job before leaving. Here are the reasons to stick it out until you find another job:

  • Less than 1 year. The Big Quit may have made leaving a job without one lined up more common, but there is still a stigma around job-hopping. Leaving before you hit that 1-year milestone at the organization can create this warning signal. So, if you take a job, then try to make it work for a year if you can. You can focus on building new skills, networking, etc. to make you more marketable for what you really want to do next.
  • Prior career movement. Similarly, if you have a series of moves in your recent career history, try to avoid simply quitting your job if you can. This can look like a habit of running away from a job/company. The way to work around that is to take the time you need to define what it is that you want next before making your next move.  
  • Ability to ask for more. Your current job or manager may not be a good fit anymore. Before just quitting, make a move at the organization to see if you can get more out of the current role/company. This could be asking for a raise, requesting a title change, or even applying for an internal position in a new department or business line. That change of scenery or recognition may be just what you need and is a lot easier than undertaking a job search.
  • Working around the toxic. You may not be able to move to a new department, but there can be ways to work around or to resolve a toxic environment. Trying to address the situation can actually work in some cases. And, if it doesn't then you have a great example to give in your next job interview.
  • Financial Needs. Bottom line is that you can't quit if you can't afford to do so without another job lined up. Not having the financial ability to make this move is reason enough to stick it out where you are while you look for that next job. And, it can be the motivation that you need to make sure that the next move that you make is the right one for your career.
  • Signing Bonus and Other Contractual Obligations. Similarly, there are financial and contractual reasons why some people have to stay in their jobs for a period of time. Those attractive signing bonuses or equity programs are there for a reason. So, make sure to read the fine print of those agreements before making the decision to move on.

What to Do Next

The decision to join the Great Resignation or not is totally dependent on your situation. Make sure that you understand why you may want to leave and evaluate your options before doing so. And, be smart about what steps you take. First, get your foundation in place. Meaning that you should put together a new resume and professional LinkedIn profile so that you can start aggressively networking. This will enable you to get a better sense of your marketability right now and potentially some help from people that you know in the process.

Second, consider your options. You may not have to quit before you make your next career move. The job search market is really strong right now. You may need to simply position yourself well in the market. Or, to get some help in the process so that you can tap into all of the opportunities that are out there right now. For example, companies like The Contingent Plan can help with your resume writing, pulling jobs, and coaching you through the process. That outside, professional help is exactly what some people need to move through the process quickly without having to just quit their jobs.

But, if you find that quitting is right for you at this time, make sure that you do it with a plan. Identify how you will use the time away from the workforce and make sure that you stick with that plan. Even if you have personal reasons for the break, make sure that you are still thinking about and exploring ways to keep your skills and professional network engaged. Staying relevant and strategic through that time away from the workforce can make a huge difference in how and where you land whenever you decide to look for your next job.


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