The economy is getting better, but good jobs still aren’t exactly growing on trees. Even in a red-hot economy, it’s always better to have another gig lined up before taking the leap – worst-case scenario, it’ll keep you from starving, and best-case scenario, it’ll make sure that you’re moving into a role that will satisfy you, not just running as fast you can from a job you hate. Sometimes, however, you have to make a leap. The goal in that situation is to make sure that you’ve thought it through before you make an irrevocable decision – and to cushion your landing before you jump.
(Photo Credit: 3S96/Flickr)
Here’s what to consider before you go:
1. Is there any way to redeem the job you have?
There are many reasons to hate a job. Maybe you have a terrible boss. Maybe your employer has draconian policies about leave, or supports a culture in which it’s totally OK to call you on your days off or even your vacation. Maybe you just hate the work itself, and want a complete change to something more satisfying.
Depending on the reason, you might be able to improve the situation without taking a big risk by leaving. Maybe there’s a role in another unit, under a different manager, that would suit you better. Maybe you can use an education benefit to train for a future job that will fulfill you more. Think carefully about whether you really need to leave in order to make your day-to-day life better.
2. Can you get laid off, instead?
If you quit your job, generally speaking, you won’t be entitled to unemployment. Nor, most likely, will your employer offer you any severance pay. For these reasons, it’s obviously preferable to be laid off than to quit. Keep your ear to the ground, and prepare to graciously volunteer as tribute, if layoffs arrive.
Unless you have a really good relationship with your manager, however, it’s probably not a good idea to suggest laying you off, out of the clear blue sky. Most states in the U.S. have at-will employment, which means you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. Get fired, and you’re in a worse spot than if you quit: no unemployment, and possibly, no COBRA coverage either.
3. Will you be able to support yourself in the possibly not-so-short term?
Most financial experts will tell you that you need to have six months of expenses saved up, in order to protect yourself from financial disaster. This is especially important if you quit a job without having another one lined up. The farther up the ladder you go, the longer it takes to get a new job. Don’t assume that you’ll have a new gig in no time, even if your network is beyond compare and the economy is heating up.
4. Have you learned from the experience?
Even the worst job can teach you something. Sometimes, it’s that you don’t want to be in that line of work, or that you prefer to work for a larger or smaller company, or that your industry is in trouble and it’s time to make a change. Sometimes, the lessons are harder. Even if everyone you worked with was a disaster, the nature of any relationship is that it flows both ways. Before you move on, ask yourself what you’ll do differently in your next job to improve your working relationships. The answer might be as simple as not bringing your personal life to work, or vice versa, or changing how you communicate with co-workers.
5. How will you describe the situation to future hiring managers?
You need an elevator pitch to describe why you left, and it should focus on the positive, even if that’s a stretch. Now’s not the time to badmouth your soon-to-be previous employer or boss – especially if they deserve it.
Tell Us What You Think
What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.