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Is it a good idea to leave your job without another job lined-up? Maybe.

Conventional wisdom dictates that you should never leave your job until you have another job lined-up. An untraditional hiring story is shocking and shameful; you’ll be unhireable!

I disagree. Sometimes people need to leave as part of their process of figuring-out what’s next.

This question is top of mind for me because several of my clients are in the process of leaving jobs without new jobs or have already left jobs without new jobs lined-up. Guess what? They’re all fine and they will land well – and as healthier versions of themselves.

Before delving further into this conversation, I want to acknowledge a couple of things: first, this is a very individual decision. What might make sense to you may seem absolutely crazy to friends or family. This is what I mean when I say I coach people to develop professional courage. I help clients figure-out what’s right for them and pursue it, no matter how others react. For some, this might mean jumping off of a cliff by leaving a job without another, and doing the work to grow wings on the journey.

Second, even considering leaving a job without another job in place is deeply privileged, particulary as a pandemic rages on throughout the world. Acknowledge your privilege and choose to leverage it for the greater good. Let caring for your own mental health be the beginning of a ripple effect where your improved happiness and fulfillment reverberates to your partner, family, and community. We all know how having a bad day can make everyone around you miserable, too. The same thing can happen with joy.

So, let’s talk about why you might leave your job without another job.

#1: Leaving your job might give you the brain space to think about what’s next

It can be really hard to make a major life decision when your stress and anxiety are high. The rule of thumb is that you should always be moving “to” a new opportunity and not “from” another, but who can say which is the reason another job looks good when you’re miserable in your current role?

#2: Leaving your job may make you a better candidate

Taking a break, however brief, from the daily grind may give you space and time to rest your mind. Rest and sleep have been proven to improve memory, language skills, and help your body glow. You will show-up to your interviews as the best version of yourself, able to tell the most interesting and relevant stories about your experience, and able to sell yourself as the right candidate for the role.

#3: Leaving your job will give you time to focus on the job search

My clients often tell me in surprise, “The job search takes-up so much time!” Yes, it does. A job search can be its own full-time job. Having extra time in your schedule to focus on a thorough job search could be a gift.

While these are all good reasons, not everyone will agree that leaving your job without another in place is the right decision. Why might you stay until you’ve accepted another job?

#1: You’re risk averse

The first question to ask yourself is “How comfortable with risk am I?” Is it going to make you more stressed-out to be job searching without a job than it would be to stay in your current role and find a new opportunity? It definitely takes courage to jump, but it also takes courage to know that jumping isn’t the only way to get where you’re going. Consider talking with a coach or people who know you well to better assess your comfort with risk.

#2: You don’t feel like you have a compelling story to share about why you left your role

Whenever you’re looking to make a major change or move professionally, think about how you can explain it in an interview. If you don’t feel like you can genuinely explain why you’re leaving your job without having another job, reconsider your move.

Examples of compelling work-related stories:

· “I learned Python and JavaScript because I think they complement my business experience in a way that will make me a successful project manager.”

· “I was offered a promotion, but it would have meant moving across the country, away from my family. Family is very important to me and I want to continue living close to them.”

· “I left my previous role once we completed my phase of our big project. Like with a lot of people, COVID made the last year tremendously taxing. I decided to leave and take a few weeks to enjoy the summer with my family. I look forward to getting back to work in the fall.”

The keys to telling these work-related stories in interviews? That they’re true and told in a succinct way. Interviewers can tell if you aren’t telling the truth or don’t belive your own story.

(And by the way, if you are just having trouble with the mechanics of storytelling, a good coach can be helpful!)

#3: You’re not sure you can find such a unique role/organization/project in the future

You may not be ready to leave your current role because it’s actually pretty special, though exhausting lately. Maybe you just need a break from what you’re doing and can come back with a clear mind. Consider reaching out to your manager and/or your HR rep about a leave of absence. Typically, leaves of absence can be a few weeks or a few months and may be paid or unpaid. Not all organizations offer them, but you won’t know until you ask!

Considering leaving your current role but not sure if you’re ready? Reach out for a conversation

Photo by Jonathan Romain on Unsplash

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