Before You Quit Your Job: What You Need to Consider

There isn’t really a great time to ever quit your job and so there may never be a perfect time or way to quit it, either. But when you are considering quitting, understand this: some times for quitting your job are way worse than other times. An obvious one of those “bad times” is right now during a pandemic when unemployment has soared to double digits and getting some new jobs are next to impossible to find in many areas.

Before you quit your job, carefully consider these factors. You want to put yourself in the best position possible for the future.

But even if you hate your job and you want out as soon as possible, it’s better to make an informed decision and leave when the timing is right. Don’t ever decide in haste and quit in the heat of the moment. It could cost you money, reputation, and negatively affect your future career and job prospects. So before you quit your job, here are some things to consider.

A 2019 Workplace Satisfaction Survey from the Addison Group asked job seekers to explain why they would seek a new job. Findings included:

  • Dissatisfied with current role – 81%
  • Passed over for a promotion – 79%
  • Not satisfied with career path – 43%
  • Problems with Manager/Direct Supervisor – 39%

The survey notes that 72% of employees were satisfied with their current role, 69% were optimistic about finding a new position, and 80% said even one bad day at work would make them likely or very likely to start a job search.

So if you have never thought about it or if you are thinking about it right now, do you know when are the best and the worst times to quit your job?

Make the Decision to Quit Your Job on Your Terms

Before you clean out your desk, make sure you have a real timeline for your departure in place.

Number one on your list before you get all crazed and quit your job without a plan is to actually lock down a new job to make the entire process one that you really want.

Negotiate a start date with your new employer and a departure date with your old one to help the whole process move along more smoothly. That way, you won’t burn any bridges and you won’t have to stress about any of the details. You’ll be able to focus all your energy on starting your new job and enjoying your brand new position. Take time to carefully and professionally tell your boss that you’re leaving.

Reasons to Stay and Keep Your Job – For Now

  • You have nothing else lined up, you just can’t quit.
  • You have no savings, without money you are inviting economic disaster.
  • You don’t have a long-term career plan, so your move would be lateral and not upward. Make a plan.
  • You’ve recently committed to a project so you would be leaving your team and your employer shorthanded at a critical time. That’s a bad reputation maker.

Reasons to Leave Now and Start a New Job

  • Your days with the company are probably numbered anyway, so explaining your resignation to a potential new employer is always easier than explaining why you were fired.
  • You have one or more solid job prospects lined up and waiting for you in the wings.
  • It’s time to move on if your employer treats you so poorly that each day is a stressful, emotional ordeal.

Before You Quit Your Job: The 13 Worst Times to Quit

Be sure to consider all these factors carefully when you’re thinking about handing in your resignation and weigh the pros and cons of your reasons for moving on. When any of these things happen, you have a real reason to seek a new job and they are:

1. You had a major fight with your boss or co-worker

If you have a conflict at work that can’t be repaired (and that can happen), think strategically about the best way to move forward. Make sure you’re not making a rash decision. Explore ending on good terms so you get at the least a positive reference.

2. You don’t have a new job lined up

Repeating here, but so important: It isn’t always easy to get hired, and it can be harder to find a job when you’re out of work and desperate. Factors such as a down job market or your occupation not being in demand can make it an uphill battle. Hold off quitting until you’ve been hired elsewhere, especially if you’re in an industry with a poor job outlook.

3. You know you’re about to be fired

There are both pros and cons to quitting before it happens if you think you’re about to be fired or laid off. If you quit, you won’t have to explain to future employers during job interviews that you were terminated. It’s much easier to explain a resignation.

The flip side of it is that quitting could disqualify you from collecting unemployment. When it seems pretty certain that a layoff is in your future, it might be better to wait until it happens. In addition to unemployment, you could be offered a severance package that will help you transition to new employment.

4. You’re in line for a promotion

Is there a promotion on the horizon? You might want to put that better job title on your résumé. It will provide you with additional opportunities when you’re ready to begin job hunting, and you might even like the new job enough that you decide to stay just when you thought you’d never ever say that.

5. You don’t have an emergency fund

Quitting can be expensive. Do you have an emergency fund with enough money to cover your expenses for a month or two…or six? Keep in mind that even if you’re hired reasonably quickly, the job might not start immediately and you might have to play catchup with most of your regular bills.

6. You haven’t really decided on a career path yet

Do you have a clear idea of the next step on your career path? You might want to do some real career research before you start looking for a job if you’re not sure. Try to figure out career options while you still have job security. Take evening or online classes, volunteer on weekends, and explore some ideas for what you want to do next.

7. You’re about to get a bonus

Does your company give goal-oriented, annual, or holiday bonuses? You might not be entitled to receive yours if you quit shortly before yours is due. In fact, you probably won’t. Hold off until bonuses are awarded to ensure that you get your extra pay.

8. You are involved in a big project

It might be a good time for you to move on, but it could be the worst possible time for your boss and your team if you’ve just taken on a big project. Unless you must quit due to a personal safety, health, or wellness issue, quitting right after you’ve agreed to take on a big project can reflect poorly on you and rob you of good references.

The standard notice period when leaving a job is at least two weeks. You should consider giving your employer even more of a heads-up if you’ve just agreed to take on a project.

9. You haven’t finished classes reimbursed by your employer

If your employer has provided you or your family with a tuition benefit, you could lose it if you quit while you or your dependents are still in school. Check the fine print of your tuition reimbursement plan and act accordingly.

10. Your 401(k) or pension is about to vest

Think long term. It could be worth holding off on your resignation if it’s a matter of staying just another month or two to get additional retirement benefits. Consider what you want to do with your 401(k) and how much it’s going to cost you if you leave your job now, before you vest.

11. You have a new baby or you’re about to have one

You might be entitled to paid or unpaid time off if you’re pregnant or have an infant. Check on what happens to your eligibility before you decide to resign while you’re on maternity leave. It could make sense to wait and turn in your resignation when you’re near the end of your leave or even when you return to work.

12. You still have unused vacation time

Some employers have “use it or lose it” vacation policies. Consider using your time if you have vacation or other paid leave still on the table and it seems likely that you’ll lose it if you don’t take it, or you won’t be compensated for it if you quit. If you don’t have a new job lined up yet, you could use your vacation time to find one.

13. You or a loved one have health problems

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for unpaid time off if you or a family member are undergoing medical treatment and you need time off from work to deal with that. Your state or employer might also offer paid disability benefits. You must have worked for your employer for a certain period of time to qualify for most benefits.

Also, check on any employer-provided health insurance benefits to see what happens with your policy if you terminate employment.

Final Thoughts

Think smart and carefully plan your departure before you quit your job so you’re quitting at the best time. Consider if there’s a way you could turn things around and learn to love your job. If not, make the decision to quit on your terms, and have a timeline for your departure in place.

Regardless of why you quit your job, be sure to say the right things in your resignation letter: offer a brief explanation of why you’re leaving, thank them for the opportunity, and let them know when your last day will be. Ask for a letter of recommendation from your manager and you’ll be able to focus all your energy on starting your new job and enjoying your brand new position.

Are you considering quitting your job right now? Have you looked at all of the pluses and minuses if and when you do? Is it the right time to quit now or will there be a better time in the future?

One comment

  1. Great article. However, my take is that unless sacked or forged to resign, one should never quit his or her job if there is no reasonable savings, a sustainable side hustle or another job offer already in place. The frustration and heart break that comes with quitting your job when you have no good back up plan isn’t worth it. Staying on the job for a few more months while working out an appropriate exit plan will make a lot of difference

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