You’ll admit it: You’re not happy with your job. It’s not the right fit for you, and you spend a good chunk of your workday dreaming about handing in your two week’s notice and moving on to a new role that makes you feel challenged, fulfilled, and valued. Should you quit your job without another one lined up?
It’s easy to feel like quitting your job without another job lined up is the equivalent to jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Even if your current role isn’t the best, at least it provides a paycheck and benefits, right?
But, is it ever a smart decision to leave your job without a new one? What are the benefits and drawbacks you need to consider? Are there certain circumstances that warrant quitting without a backup plan in place?
We connected with career experts to answer those questions, so you can figure out the best move for you.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Quitting Your Job Without Another Job?
Like any other career decision you’re faced with, leaving your current job isn’t black and white. There are a few advantages and potential pitfalls you’ll need to consider.
Pros of Quitting Your Job
Let’s start with the good news first. Here are a few upsides you can experience when you leave your full-time job—even if you haven’t signed an offer elsewhere yet.
1. You’ll Be Happier
This is the one that’s most appealing to people who are wondering whether or not they should move on from their existing position. Our careers make up a significant portion of our lives and one study found that careers are also our second most significant cause of stress—ranking only behind money. If your job is making you miserable, quitting can mean great things for your mental health. You escape that negative environment, reduce your stress levels, and increase your own happiness.
2. You’ll Get Perspective On Your Career
When you’re so caught up in the day-to-day of your job—particularly one that causes emotional and mental strife—it can be hard to get perspective about your career goals. Quitting gives you some time and opportunity to think all of your ambitions and desires through. “If moving immediately into a new job is not a dire necessity, a breather may do you good,” says Nancy Wilhelms, a career coach. “Take quality time to get in touch with your passion and your skills and how to direct them toward a more fulfilling career.”
3. You’ll Free Up Your Schedule
In addition to the mental real estate your existing position might be taking up, it also demands a lot of your time. That can make it tough to dedicate the hours and energy needed for finding a new job. “Job hunting, when done right, is at least a very draining part-time job,” explains Meaghan Wagner, a coach known as The Goal Guru. “It takes up a ton of energy, creativity, and frankly, morale. If you’re already unhappy at work, adding a job hunt to your nights and weekends is a fast-track to misery and exhaustion.” Quitting your current job can give you the time you need to commit yourself to your job search.
Cons of Quitting Your Job
While there are some definite upsides to packing up your desk and hitting the road, there are also some potential consequences you’ll want to be aware of so that you can prepare accordingly.
1. You’ll Have a Resume Gap
One of the biggest things that job seekers worry about is the hole that’s left on their resume—how will they explain that period of unemployment? Traditional advice says that resume gaps, much like job hopping, are a big red flag.
But the good news is that those spaces between jobs don’t immediately send hiring managers running. In fact, 49% of employers say that resume gaps aren’t as alarming as they used to be. Even so, you’ll need to be prepared to address that break in your employment during your job search, especially during interviews.
2. You’ll Deal With Income Uncertainty
Despite the fact that leaving your job reduces your work-related stress, it introduces another stressor into your circumstances: money. Without a job, you aren’t earning a regular, predictable income. Plus, in many cases, you’ll lose out on benefits like your health and dental insurance (if you were getting those through your employer in the first place). Most of us can’t afford to live without any money coming in, so the lack of earnings is definitely something to consider before handing in your notice.
3. You Might Struggle to Find a New One
Finding a new job isn’t always easy—not only logistically, but also psychologically. “People often become psychologically accustomed to not working,” explains Sean Sessel, Executive Director of The Oculus Institute. “This adaptation takes place within approximately 45 days or so, at which point many (though certainly not all) people will begin to struggle with the motivation to find a new job. This doesn’t show up consciously but rather in hundreds of small bits of procrastination.”
3 Times You Can Consider Quitting Your Job (Without Another One)
Figuring out your answer to, “Should I quit my job without another job?” is a personal process—there won’t be one decision that works for everybody.
But, there are a few times when the solution is more straightforward. Here are three different situations where your best bet is to leave your current position and employer—even if you don’t have a new job lined up and waiting for you.
1. When You Have More Than Enough Savings to Carry You
Perhaps quitting your job is something you’ve been pondering for quite some time, and you’ve managed to stash away enough savings to cover your living expenses for at least a couple of months.
You’ll still have to deal with some of the other cons and consequences of quitting, like a resume gap and potentially waning motivation. But, knowing that you have the real-world financial concerns off of your plate can give you the break you need to figure out your next move.
2. When Your Work Environment Is Toxic and Detrimental
You don’t just feel stagnant, stuck, or bored in your current job. You’re trapped in a work environment that’s actually toxic and unhealthy. Whether you’re dealing with harassment, discrimination, bullying, or a similar workplace nightmare, make sure you take steps to document those issues with your supervisor, human resources, or all of the above. If things aren’t changing the way you need them to, then sometimes your best and only option is to get out.
As Sessel explains, when a job “is so toxic that it is having a destructive effect on your physical mental health” it can actually deteriorate your ability to get a new job. You have so much energy wrapped up in just trying to make it through your current circumstances, it makes it tough to dedicate adequate energy and attention to anything else.
3. When You’re Confident in Your Options
Over the past few months, you’ve had several different offers or job inquiries in your inbox. People are checking out your LinkedIn profile. As you’ve perused job boards, you’ve seen tons of ads and descriptions looking for people with your specific skills.
Of course, that’s never a guarantee that you’ll have no problem finding another job. But, it is a promising sign.
If you feel confident that your industry or career path is ripe with opportunities, it could be a reasonable time to jump ship from your current role—even if you don’t have another one to move on to immediately.
Is It a Bad Idea to Quit Your Job Without Another One Lined Up?
Determining whether or not it’s the right time to leave your job is always challenging–but especially when you haven’t secured another role (and income!) yet.
There’s no doubt that it can feel like falling without a parachute, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a bad choice. There are a few circumstances when it might be worth moving on without a firm back-up plan in place.
The important thing is to consider your unique situation, along with the pros, cons, and potential consequences, so that you can make the best choice for you. Like any other career decision, it’s personal.