why you shouldn’t quit your job until you’ve accepted a new one

Have you ever been tempted to quit your job even though you don’t have another one lined up yet? Maybe you’re sure you’re about to get an offer, or maybe you just can’t stand working for your current boss. It can be tempting to give your notice on the spot, but it can also be an enormous mistake if you don’t have another job formally locked in yet.

Here’s why you should never resign your job until you have an official job offer – one that you’ve finished negotiating and have accepted.

It might take you a lot longer than you think to find a new job. If you expect to find another job within a couple of months, think again. Finding another job can take a long time – often much longer than job seekers expect it to. In fact, in this market, it’s not uncommon for a job search to take a year or more. That means that if you quit your job without first securing another, you might end up with a large gap on your resume, which can make it harder to get hired. It can also drain your savings, leaving you in a precarious financial position, one where the pressure to find another job quickly will be greater than ever.

It’s much easier to get another job when you’re still employed. Rightly or wrongly, most employers prefer to hire people who are already employed. That’s because they often assume that people who quit their jobs without another lined up did so because they were fired or were about to be fired or because they walk away when things get tough, which worries managers since every job has challenges. That doesn’t mean it’s an instant deal-breaker, but it’s highly likely to raise questions from employers and potentially make your job search harder.

The job offer you’re counting on might fall through. Sometimes job seekers are so sure that an offer is forthcoming that they go ahead and give notice to their current employers. Some of the time this works out just fine, but other times it ends badly when the offer falls through. And if you’ve already given notice, your current employer may have already made plans to replace you or might not be willing to let you rescind your notice – which can leave you without the old job or the new job. Because of that risk, you should never resign until you have an official offer in hand from your new employer – not a promise that an offer is coming, not very good signs that seem like they’re leading somewhere, but an actual, formal offer. Better yet, wait until you’ve accepted that formal offer – because otherwise it’s possible that your negotiations could fall apart.

You might not pass the background check. Sometimes an employer might tell you that a new job is a done deal – but you’ll notice fine print in the offer letter that says it’s contingent on you passing a background check or reference check. Even if you’re confident that both of those will go fine, that’s never guaranteed. Sometimes mistakes are made in background checks, or a reference call doesn’t go quite the way you assumed it would. Until any contingencies like these are cleared, your offer could still hit a snag, which means you might not want to risk resigning your job at this stage.

If a new employer pressures you to give notice while their offer still has contingencies attached to it, explain that while you don’t expect any problems with references or in the background check, you’re not comfortable giving notice until the offer is finalized. You can say something like, “As soon as the offer is firm and without contingencies, I’ll be able to give my employer two weeks notice, but I can’t resign my job until the new one is certain.”

Are there any times when it’s okay to resign without a new job?

There are a few limited circumstances where it might make sense to quit your job before you’ve secured a new one, such as if you’re being subjected to egregiously abusive or harassing treatment, if your safety is being compromised, or if you’re being pressured to do anything illegal, unethical, or unsafe. But aside from those limited cases, you’re far better off job-searching while you’re still employed.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 152 comments… read them below }

  1. Elkay*

    I know this probably falls into the academia is the exception but I was in a role that required a 3 month notice period, once I had a date from which I was available my success at getting interviews increased. Before I handed my notice in I was applying for about two years and getting nothing. I didn’t make any dramatic changes to my CV or covering letters either other than tailoring them to the job I was applying for.

    1. Pearl*

      I’m also in academia, and the job I’ve just left required three months, PLUS whatever remained of the month in which you resigned. I resigned on the 4th, and they tried to enforce this, meaning that my notice was nearly 4 months. Thankfully, I managed to cut it down to just shy of 12 weeks, and my new employer was really understanding, and really wanted me. But man it was tough working that long a notice in a job I’d hated since my third week there!

    2. ScaredyCat*

      I don’t work in academia, but I also had a 3 month notice period at my last job. Was it fun to explain why I couldn’t start earlier… Especially when some HR personnel looked at me as if that was entirely MY fault (well, I did sign the contract to be sure), instead of the blanket policy of a company with 1000 employees.

        1. Mimmy*

          Wow…now I don’t feel so alone! I looked for about 3 years before I dialed it back and focused more on getting experience through my committee work. (I did have a couple of temporary gigs during that time.)

  2. Empress Zhark*

    How is one meant to navigate a situation where the new job is contingent on satisfactory references – where one of the references MUST be your current employer?

    I’ve been in such a situation before, the new company wouldn’t budge on that particular contingency, they’d checked my other references but wanted to speak to my current employer before committing to the offer they made. At the same time, I didn’t want the new company contacting my current company as I didn’t want them knowing I was looking for a new job.

    I had to take a leap of faith, tell my then employer that I needed a reference from them. My boss told me he considered that as notice of my resignation (regardless of whether I would get a firm offer from the new company or not, and provided that reference. Thankfully all was OK and I started at the new company 4 weeks later, but I dread to think what would have happened had the new company withdrawn the offer after the reference check.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      This is a difficult one. The company that hired you really put you in a difficult situation by mandating they speak to your employer at the time. What would you have done if you hadn’t received their offer?

      I feel like that’s such a terrible requirement that puts people’s jobs in jeopardy.

      1. Empress Zhark*

        The justification for it was that only my current employer could speak to my most recent work, and therefore older references weren’t as good or valuable. Which I could understand if I’d been at the same job for 15 years before applying for the new one, but it had only been 2 years. I tried explaining that letting my employer know I was jobsearching could put me at risk, but the HR woman I was speaking to told me that barely anyone’s offer was withdrawn after speaking to a current reference, and that my reluctance to trust them indicated to her that I had something to hide.

        I should have taken that as a huge waving red flag looking back, that company was terrible and I left after a year.

        1. Anonymous*

          “my reluctance to trust them indicated to her that I had something to hide” What?!
          That sounds unprofessional of the rep to say to a candidate. Wow.

        2. BRR*

          “barely anyone’s offer was withdrawn after speaking to a current reference”
          That sure builds up confidence.

          “that my reluctance to trust them indicated to her that I had something to hide”
          I don’t even know what to say.

          1. Felicia*

            Barely anyone’s offer is not the same as no one’s offer. That would make me less confident and no longer want to work there

        3. NylaW*

          I would tell them that their willingness to put my current job at risk makes me reluctant to trust them.

        4. Ash (the other one!)*

          I was the question asker in OP3 here: https://www.askamanager.org/2014/07/i-give-off-nervous-energy-in-interviews-i-dont-want-my-old-boss-to-evaluate-me-and-more.html

          I ended up not refusing for them to contact my current employer and not getting the job, which is fine with me now since I ended up at a better one…

          AAM has a lot of resources on here about it too:

          1. Ash (the other one!)*

            That should say I did refuse, not “not refusing” sorry mixed up what I was going to say!

        5. K*

          Yeah, bunch of big ole red flags there. They’re in business, they should understand how most other companies view employees that are job-hunting.

        6. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I should have taken that as a huge waving red flag looking back

          That’s what I was thinking. They’re asking you to risk exactly what happened, getting fired because your (crappy) employer finds out you’re interviewing. It sounds like you left one bad work environment for another. I hope the next one at least paid better! But I’m glad to hear that both are behind you now. I hope you wrote them up on Glassdoor. :)

    2. Mike C.*

      “I’m sorry, our fear of risk is much more important than you ending up homeless if we find something we arbitrarily don’t like.”

  3. Mike*

    And yet I did that very thing last week. I just reached a point where I would not, could not (in a tree) keep working there. I also know the market for my position in my area and am not worried about finding another position. Plus I know I can get some contract work if I need to fill the gap.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Yup, me too. Well, I did it mid-July. I got to the point where I was hell-bent not to spend one day of August at my old job. I knew there were 4 offers coming (was told so verbally) so even if 3 of those didn’t materialize, I had a pretty good shot one would (and all 4 did). I also had a small contract that would carry me for a few months if nothing came through.

      Sometimes mental health is more important than having an offer in hand….

      1. Seal*

        Me 3, albeit over a decade ago. Quitting without another job lined up got me out of a hostile work environment that was slowly killing me. I was able to take the summer off and clear my head to the point that I could put up with an awful 3 month temp job that fall and retain my sanity. Taking that summer off was the best thing I could have done for myself at the time, both personally and professionally.

        1. Leah*

          I did that a few months ago. My job was making me physically ill because I was so unhappy there. Luckily, I have a happy life otherwise, so that limited the effects on my mental health but I would not have been the first person in the office to suffer a mental breakdown from the toxic working environment. During this time, I’ve done some thorough self-evaluation and am changing careers to a job that uses transferrable skills but doesn’t make me ill.

          I considered taking a medical leave of absence, but I would have just used the time to job search and I get benefits through my partner, so there wasn’t really a point.

      2. KellyK*

        Yeah, I think “this job is killing my mental health” is the situation in which quitting without another job lined up makes very good sense. (If it were destroying your physical health, the same thing would apply.) Especially if you have a good chance of another offer and family or a significant other who’s willing to support you if those don’t materialize.

    2. Betsy*

      I’m done it, too. There are some places that are just… soul-destroying, even if they’re not overtly abusive. They drain all of your energy and positive thinking, and job-hunting while trapped in them is, if not impossible, the next closest thing.

      I would add, therefore, to Alison’s list of when to get out: when you start wistfully thinking about getting hit by a car, because a week or so in the hospital would be so relaxing…

      1. Kelly O*


        The only thing keeping me where I am is the knowledge that daycare does not accept joy as a form of payment. Neither does Kroger.

      2. shaky bacon*

        I’ve been known to offer co-workers money to gently run me over with their car (just enough to put me in the hospital for a couple of weeks, nothing too major). I even promise to sign a contract saying I will not press charges, etc., and they all laugh it off like it’s a funny joke but I was being mostly serious…

      3. Nina*

        Exactly. When you’re fantasizing about jumping out the window or getting hit by a car so you don’t have to go to work, it’s time to leave.

        I’ve left a job without having another lined up. I don’t know if I would do it again personally, because it did drain my savings. But waiting for another job isn’t always an option. Sometimes you just have to get out.

        1. A Non*

          Same here. In hind sight, I wish I would have started job hunting a whole lot earlier when I still had energy to do so. Instead I poured all that energy into trying to make the bad job work, and then still had to quit without another job lined up when I could no longer do the work. I lay on a couch for three months afterwards until I could summon energy to do anything but eat and sleep. Not doing that again.

      4. Lamington*

        I worked in a place like this. I would cry everyday going there and pray I would get a flat tire or in a fender bender so I didn’t have to show up. Thankfully the contract expired at the end of the summer, but I ended up with an ulcer.

    3. Vicki*

      A friend of mine did this. He’d been telling his manager for a while that he wanted a change; they kept saying no (because he was ‘so good’ at what he was doing they ‘didn’t want to lose him’). He snapped and walked out.

      I heard about it and pulled him into my then-company on a contract position. He ended up converting to regular employee and stayed 5 years.

      p.s. I loved the Seuss reference! I’m keeping that.

      1. Mike*

        Funny enough I didn’t originally intend the reference but as I started typing it I realized I had part of it so went looking for the rest of it ;)

    4. Clinical Social Worker*

      My lease was up and the job I thought I had lined up fell through. I pretty much had to move almost 300 miles…

      So I left my horribly abusive work environment. Last time I was unemployed I had less experience and didn’t have my license. I’m hoping that being fully licensed means that I get this solved before my 9 months emergency reserve runs dry.

    5. Ruffingit*

      Yup, did it myself a few years ago. The job had both abusive and unethical behavior going on and I simply could not stomach another moment there. I was the 7th person in two years to quit my position. Sometimes you just have to move on.

  4. Siobhan*

    Maybe I am just old fashioned but it never seems ok to quit a job and not have a back-up unless you have won the lottery.

    1. Empress Zhark*

      Agreed – my parents always drilled it into me that it was much easier to get a job if I had a job, and it’s a lesson that’s stuck with me. The only time I’ve quit without another job lined up (aside from the contigent offer I described above) was when I was sure that my office would be shut down & I’d be laid off within 3 months. I wanted to go back to full-time study, and to do so meant I couldn’t wait to officially be laid off so instead I quit. I wouldn’t have been due any redundancy payments anyway as I’d not been there long enough, so I didn’t lose out by waiting.

    2. limenotapple*

      I quit a job without something lined up because my husband and I decided together that being in an abusive situation was not worth it. I don’t think it’s an old-fashioned vs new-fangled issue; we just decided that for us, it was ok to live on less than for me to go on being miserable and dreading work. That was 6 or 7 years ago, and it didn’t impact me at all in terms of getting good jobs down the road, but maybe in my industry, it doesn’t matter that much. I took the time for home improvements and only one person in an interview ever asked about the gap, and my explanation was sufficient.
      Now, I don’t think I would have quit for lesser reasons, like if I was bored or whatnot. This was truly an abusive, people-yelling-at-me, high-stress situation, that manifested itself in physical/health problems.

      1. NZ Muse*

        Same boat here, but it was my husband who left the toxic job. That combined with the fact that the terrible boss seemed to be heading towards possibly firing him, we decided it was time to get out now. That was about 2 weeks ago.

      2. Zillah*

        I agree and would probably make the same decision in a bad situation. However, I do think that this is a situation where having a partner helps – it can give a bit of a safety net that you don’t necessarily have if you’re single.

    3. Vicki*

      You’ve been lucky not to have the severe stress issue.

      When it’s a choice between your mental health and the income, sometimes, the choice falls on the side of the mental health.

    4. Mike C.*

      Having to work in a toxic environment is in many ways like living in an abusive relationship. The mental and emotional harm that goes on when such a person has financial control of your life an be particularly harmful if the workplace in question is especially cruel.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Totally agreed, it is very much an abusive relationship because your financial well-being is in the hands of a boss who is close to being insane. Your mental health recedes to the point of being so exhausted and numb that job hunting becomes a Herculean task. You show up every day expecting to be yelled at, ignored, shunned, perhaps even physically assaulted. It’s a horror show and for those who’ve never been in an abusive environment, I am happy for you. But not everyone has been so lucky. We’re not talking about quitting because the boss refused to give you the ergonomic chair you wanted and thus he’s an asshole. We’re talking about developing a flinching reflex every time your boss walks in the room because you know you’re going to get yelled at for something, whether you’re actually to blame or not. And that’s the least of the pain. Sometimes, you just need to get out.

        1. Golden Yeti*

          “We’re talking about developing a flinching reflex every time your boss walks in the room…”

          This is totally me. The worst part of my day is seeing the bosses arrive at the office–and it’s not even because there would be yelling at me specifically, etc. They just bring a crap ton of paranoia and other mess to the table, and it makes me anxious. Nobody’s stayed there, and most of them quit without other things lined up. Sometimes I’m jealous of those people because they got out so easily, but I keep getting sucked back into the vortex.

          Truly, I just want a company that I like to like me back and hire me so my job search can finally be over.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      When I cried every day on the way to work and on the way home from work,I knew it was a quality of life issue. Get out. Worry about what to do later.

      Yeah, it is mind-bending when you have to let go of the what you think your values are or should be.

      The mistake I made was I went to a temp job that paid okay and I really liked BUT I could not function in a normal environment. I lost out on an opportunity to be called back or shifted to perm status.

      1. Ruffingit*

        After getting out of a toxic environment, it does help if you can take some time off to recover. I had to do that when I left a terribly toxic job. Just needed some time to detox basically. I know that if I’d gone straight into another job, even a temp one, I wouldn’t have been any good to anyone so I can relate to what you’re saying here.

      2. Windchime*

        I was at the “crying every day” stage in my old job before I got an offer out of the blue from a company where I had a lot of connections. I was so relieved that I snatched it up, even though it meant commuting for 4 months, selling my house and moving to the other side of the state.

        I still feel upset when I think about working there. I had a lot of good years at that place, but the crap that happened in the last 3 or 4 years was so awful that I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I couldn’t have left without another offer because it was basically a one-company town and I didn’t have enough savings to get me through more than a couple of months.

    6. mess*

      Agree, but I’m the breadwinner in the family and my husband couldn’t support us on his part time work. Different folks have different situations–it definitely helps to have a partner with a good income I suppose and be in an industry where it’s easier to get jobs. I’ve been brought to tears by my job, I’ve been insanely stressed out, almost daily migraines, working every Saturday for a spell because we were so short staffed and it took them two years to hire some help, having the constant hit-by-a-bus fantasy so I could “relax”… but I never considered quitting without something else lined up.

      I know someone who quit a job without a new one lined up after working at the company for something like 10 years. She didn’t have a college degree and was quite shocked at how hard it was to get even an interview – the market was, of course, completely different than when she was last job hunting. She eventually decided to go back to school but now’s she’s going to have a multi-year gap on her resume. It’s a little too late to say anything now but I kind of slapped my forehead when she up and quit, especially since her list of grievances seemed fairly petty in this job market. (And her old company would have PAID for her to go back to school! I’ve never worked anywhere with tuition reimbursement!). Anyway for me that was certainly a cautionary tale.

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      I had no idea this had anything to do with being old fashioned or “modern.”

      FWIW, going into the working world I never knew this was even something to do.

      I come from an hourly, minimum wage background, so in my mind it was always any time that I took off would be taken out of my paycheck and given how tough searching for a job would be, whatever was “out there” wasn’t good enough to risk what I had (two in the bus h is worth one in the hand or something like that?)

      And then, while everyone says that’s the best thing to do, I’ve still yet to find anyone who would give me a solid breakdown of HOW it’s done; when you’re not allowed to have a phone or check your email at work, or take any calls, or going back to my earlier example, when you get paid by the hour, every hour = $$ that you still need and can’t really afford to *not* have….OR in my case, working 60-70 hours a week and suddenly being given the boot once you were no longer needed…..after working that long, WHERE does one have the time to look for a job, much less go on interviews or anything?

      Sometimes I think the “look for a job while you’re working!” only works in most office settings where you are treated like an adult and not forced to put your phone away or anything of the sort.

      I don’t mean for this at all to turn into a white vs blue collar or anything of the sort..just relying my own experiences.

  5. Toothless*

    About a year ago, I quit a job without another one to go to; the family was relocating for my husband to go back to school, and our kid needed to start high school on one town or the other.

    It took 7 months after the move for me to find a permanent job, though I got a temp position right away.

    Looking back, it’s hard to see how else I could have done things, since finding this job relied so heavily on networking in the new town, which is 180 miles from the old one.

    I suppose I could have thrown myself into long-distance networking a year or more ahead of the move. That’s certainly what I’ll do next time.

    1. De Minimis*

      I’m trying to figure this one out too…my wife applied for a job with her old employer back in the state we moved from–if she gets it, she’s heading back. I’m starting to apply for stuff now, but I’m not sure what to do if the time comes for her to go and I haven’t gotten anything yet. We’ve separated for work before [that’s why I’m in my current job] but don’t really want to go through it again, also, we really will need two incomes in the city where we’d be moving. The job market seems pretty good there, and I think I could find a job, but I really don’t want to go through being unemployed again.

      Oh well, she hasn’t been contacted about an interview yet, although chances are good she’ll get one.

        1. Toothless*

          Yes, we did that too and it’s no fun.

          I did two things when I got here that I probably could have done from a distance:

          – Joined a local networking group, went to all their lunches, asked the people I met there to meet me for coffee and give me advice. (Misery for an introvert!)

          – Our new town has an orientation class! They launched it when a huge company (where I now work) opened an office in this sleepy place and started bringing in people from all over the world. Most towns don’t do that, but next time I’ll probably do something like call up the Chamber of Commerce or the Development Corp and say, “If I wanted to meet and chat with a lot of locals, what should I do?”

          (I would not ask for job hunting advice because all that ever got me was a link to the classified website.)

          Also, like a lot of huge companies, mine has job titles/descriptions that are impenetrable if you don’t already work here. Someone I met at the orientation class told me they had a recruiter downtown one morning a week, and he looked at my resume and matched my skills with some openings, and that’s how I finally found work. So it’s worth looking up big employers and asking where you could meet a recruiter in person,

        1. Clinical Social Worker*

          Whew, that’s a relief! Mine was a combo of my lease being up, my partner being 300 miles away and a horribly toxic work environment.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I do think that this reason for quitting is a bit different. Moving to stay with a family member should counteract potential bosses from thinking this: “Many assume that people who quit their jobs without another lined up did so because they were either fired or about to be fired. Or they may think the candidate walked away when things got tough,”.

      However is doesn’t mean you won’t have trouble and if your period of unemployment drags out you get the potential employers wondering if its a red flag that you haven’t been able to find a job for so long.

  6. AB*

    Background checks and reference checks are a huge source of frustration for me. The last job offer wanted a firm start date, and I wanted to give my old job the appropriate two weeks notice. The third party handling the background check took ages. A couple of the companies and/or branches I worked for closed (which I had noted when I filled out the background check information and had provided W2’s or paystubs to keep the process quick). The company didn’t start the background check until they’d sent me an offer (conditional on the background check of course) and they wanted me to start 2 weeks from that date. It ended up taking the company over two weeks to do the check because of the closed companies and because one previous manager was out of the office for 2 weeks due to a family emergency and the background company didn’t think to ask for anyone else that could verify employment. The company was not happy that I wanted to push out the start date; they thought I should have put my notice in as soon as I got an offer. I thought that was a really bad idea because things go wrong. I have a super common name, and it would be really easy for the company to pull up erroneous information that could take time to sort out. I’ve had that happen before in other situations.

    Background checking companies are notorious for their less than accurate reports, and mine did end up being inaccurate (In my favor. It didn’t report that I had once been arrested for “failure to appear in court” for a traffic ticket that showed up as unpaid…. long story that involves an embezzlement ring and hundreds possibly thousands of people being arrested for the same issue that I am still trying to get cleared off my record. I had alerted the company to the possible impediment prior to the background check)

  7. Kelly O*

    This is rather timely, as I am just waiting on a call to let me know I’ve cleared the background check and am ready for next steps.

    I was so very tempted one day last week to just say, in the words of one Eric Cartman, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” And then I remembered that nothing is a done deal until I have the offer in hand, and all negotiations are complete. So while things may be horrible here in You-Know-Where, I will just endure until things are 100% settled.

    It isn’t fun, and it adds to the stress level, but it’s the right and reasonable thing to do. I’ve only walked off one job before, and am committing to not doing that again. (I figure we all get one, and if it’s in your twenties while you’re still sorting out your career, it’s even more explainable.)

    1. Mints*

      Ha! I saw a picture of a Cartman button/pin with that quote, in an empty room, and the caption said “We woke up today to find our roommate moved out without notice, and this is all that was left in the room”
      (I don’t have a link. It was probably from Tumblr)

      1. Kate*

        That’s where I am now :) Signed new agreement, having my last day early in September, and can’t wait to go ;)
        Not that my current job is bad though. It just got boring at some point.

    2. Clinical Social Worker*

      I’ve been told hours before I was supposed to go to a job that it no longer existed. You’re right, it’s not a done deal till you’re actually there.

      1. Lotto where art thou?*

        Sometimes it’s not a done deal even once you’re actually there. Years ago, a friend of mine was offered a job with a well-known regional company with a start date three months hence. Signed & sealed letter of employment from the company.

        Friend sold most of her possessions on the west coast, and I helped her move across the country, arriving the Thursday before the new job started. She had been in touch w/ manager-to-be about every 2 weeks following the offer, and Company knew she would be moving cross-country for the job (because she had negotiated agreement to a bit of relocation reimbursement).

        When we arrived, Friend contacted Manager-to-be to let him know she was in town, and they chatted about Day 1 stuff. The following day, Friday — the last business day before her start date — Manager-to-be called Friend: “so sorry, project’s been cancelled, offer rescinded, sorry for the inconvenience.” Just about that breezy, too.

        Friend made a stink about breach of contract, and Company eventually ended up paying her the equivalent of about 4 month’s salary to shut her down. She knew no one outside of Company in her new town, and ended up moving back to the west coast to bunk w/ family while she resumed her job search. Eighteen months later, she finally landed a comparable job with a decent company.

        Horrible experience.

  8. Ann O'Nemity*

    A co-worker recently quit without another job. Despite her efforts, she knew she wouldn’t be able to meet upcoming deadlines. When she confided this to her boss, the options were to quit now in good standing, or continue flailing down the path towards a PIP and eventually a firing. I’m not sure what the best choice would be in a situation like that….

    1. De Minimis*

      I think it’s usually better to stay, look for another job, and if you’re fired you at least have a shot at collecting unemployment.

      Probably also depends on the likelihood of finding another job quickly.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        Hmm, yeah. In college I once overreached and registered for a course I was not remotely ready for – and after a couple of assignments when it became clear I would not do well in the course and might even fail, I spoke to the professor and we mutually agreed that the time to withdraw was when my transcript would show a W instead of waiting until it would show a WF.

        Leaving a job doesn’t seem like that, though.

        1. De Minimis*

          Good example though of how it’s best to keep lines of communication open when you start having trouble.
          I know as a student I would just avoid talking to the professor and have at least a few Fs on my transcript to show for it….and in at least a few of those I could have withdrawn had I just been an adult and talked to the professor.

          Same thing definitely applies at work.

  9. Crystal*

    Your comments in #2 are spot on! As a hiring manager I much prefer candidates that are currently employed. Whether it’s right or wrong of me to do, I tend to assume that the individual left because they were about to be fired, had a major personality clash, or another serious issue.

    1. West Coast Reader*

      Yes, leaving a job suddenly can indicate a serious issue, though it can stem from the manager/employer as well as the employee. I hope you aren’t skipping over stellar candidates who had to leave their jobs suddenly due to a crazy or unethical boss.

      1. Not an IT Guy*

        This is true. At oldjob my manager would clean my desk occasionally and throw out all my paperwork. I was later fired for not getting any work done. But try explaining that when as a candidate, you’re not supposed to badmouth the previous employer even though you did nothing wrong.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This boss gets a Darwin Award. I cannot imagine a boss so stupid that would throw out his employee’s work. That only reflects on his leadership if his group does not complete their work.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Yes, but “about to be fired” and “major personality clash” (to go with the two you mention) may not actually have anything to do with the applicant’s ability to do the job, knowledge of the field, experience, etc. About 10 minutes on AAM demonstrates amply that there are unbelievably dysfunctional and vindictive managers who can outright fire you (or make your life miserable to the point where resigning is your best option), regardless of your past performance, your evaluation history, your billables, glowing client testimonials, or despite your proven ability to communicate, mediate or “manage up” or any other metric.

      I’m willing to bet that >75% of the readership here can relate an anecdote (whether or not it happened to them) where someone they know was pushed out/resigned before they could be fired when performance was not the issue. I hope your comment means that you’re willing to examine those assumptions and explore the unemployed applicant’s candidacy as fairly as you would the employed applicant!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, but the problem is that as a hiring manager, it’s very difficult to know the full story. It doesn’t mean that you’re not willing to believe those things are possible, but it does mean that it raises questions that it’s really better for the applicant not to even have come up.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Understood. I haven’t done a deep dive into the archives, but is there language you recommend people use to explain their recent resignation to a prospective employer? (again, assuming this is “resigned before being terminated” due to managerial malice or executive whim”) I’m sure the usual caveats about not trashing the previous employer still apply.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Depends so heavily on circumstances that it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer. Ideally you have something you can use to explain it that isn’t “my boss was crazy” or “I wanted new challenges.” The latter sounds like BS (since most people don’t quit with nothing lined up in that circumstance).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have to agree with you CCC. I would hope that a hiring manager uses more than one item on her check list to decide to reject me. I would not want it based on just quitting a job with nothing lined up. I would want consideration on numerous points. I see no problem, though if a manager uses that as a caution light to ask more questions or use more thoughtful consideration.

    3. Jill of all trades*

      I did everything right – got the offer, accepted, had a firm start date, passed the background, etc. the day before I was supposed to start I found out that the role was “on hold” because the CFO never approved the creation of the position. My old company had closed my position through headcount reduction efforts. It took me more than a year to get another offer. Sometimes, good workers end up screwed. My current employer is glad they saw through the (ever growing at the time) gap on my resume. Please don’t overlook good employees just because of a gap or because they are currently unemployed. They may have trusted the wrong company.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. I had a job. I worked at it for about six weeks. They gave me an honesty test. (That is what they were called back then.) They never mentioned that I had to pass any tests. I said “If I fail this will I be fired?” NO-NO, they told me.

        I failed and they fired me on the spot.
        The test was ruled illegal by the courts but too late for me.

        Stuff happens. It was a bit of a dance to explain the gap. But I did not want to talk negatively about an employer. Fortunately, I found a job where the hiring manager who was not too worried about that type of thing and more focused on how well I matched the needs of the position he was offering.

    4. Erica*

      I on the other hand fantasize about starting a company that recruits primarily from the long-term unemployed, stay-at-home parents returning to the workforce, and career changers: because there is SO MUCH talent there that is overlooked because of prejudice, I could make some killer hires.

      1. Al Lo*

        Interestingly enough, my boss and I interviewed 6 people today for an entry-level position in my department, and our current front-runner is a career changer in his 50s (probably — based on his high school graduation date on his resume — which I cringed at a little to see on there!). He was laid off last year sometime, had been contemplating a career change to our non-profit field for about a decade, and finally decided that he’d take the plunge instead of looking for work in his previous field. He was fully aware of the cut in salary and the difference in work style; has been away from his last job for a while; and has volunteered in our field, so it’s not just the romanticizing of something he thinks might be great.

        Our other top two candidates are more of the traditional entry-level profile, and I feel like, having read this site for years, I’m a bit damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t. I mean, we’ll go with the best person for the job, but either we’re giving an entry-level job to someone whose life experience is way above entry-level (and thus making entry-level positions more difficult for young people entering the job market), or we’ll give the job to one of them, reinforcing stereotypes about changing careers later in life.

      2. G M*

        Seriously. This whole “not hiring the unemployed” thing is destroying lives AND depriving employers of talent. It’s idiotic.

      3. Jill of All Trades*

        Me too! One day when I’m a hiring manager I will specifically target that group because of my own situation. I also coach friends who are hiring managers to not throw out a resume just because of a gap. They use current employment as a way to winnow down a big pile of resumes and I’ve been working on showing them better ways to do it.

        1. G M*

          I really appreciate the folks doing this – I find OP’s comment about “assuming a problem” due to employment gaps to be patently offensive, honestly, as if nobody ever had a sick parent, or a sick kid, or a car accident, or a company go under.

          It’s bad business.

          1. JM in England*

            What I’d give for The Unemployed to be a protected class along with gender, race and religion.

  10. Khanada*

    So, what if there’s a particular area you want to relocate to? About a month ago, there was a thread here about how employers don’t like long-distance applicants. The takeaway message I got from that was, “Sure, you can try to secure a job before you move, but you’ll probably just have to move first and hope the job thing pans out.” But then you’re unemployed during your job search, which apparently employers don’t like either! It’s kind of a “rock and a hard place” situation.

    1. Just Visiting*

      Temp! (I swear, half my posts on here are about temping.) We pulled up stakes and moved across the country four months ago, neither one of us with a job on the other side. We did have two years of savings. I signed up with four temp agencies and was employed within the month. I’ve had a few weeks of (f)unemployment since then but we’re still in the black, we haven’t touched the savings account yet. I’ve actually turned down two jobs that would definitely have gone permanent because they just weren’t what I wanted to do. Been liking this perma-temp lifestyle, actually. Gonna keep it going. I guess it’s different if you want a specific career instead of just a paycheck, but if it’s the paycheck you want, get it by temping (and by saving up a year of expenses just in case).

      1. De Minimis*

        I’ve had a hard time finding temp work, but the area where I was trying it had an absolutely stinko job market.
        I also am a much better, more experienced candidate than I was then. Guess I can try it as a last resort if nothing else pans out.

        1. Just Visiting*

          How many agencies did you sign up with? A lot of people say you need to sign up with at least ten to guarantee solid work, but right now I’m with four and I’m happy with the amount of work I’m being offered. Are you in a rural or urban area?

          1. De Minimis*

            This was in the past, during the height of the recession. Although the city I lived in was fairly large [around 500k], the economy was really ag/service industry based, so there weren’t a lot of white collar jobs even during good times. I think there were only a handful of agencies, and only one that really had a lot of the accounting jobs. Never got anywhere with them, had a couple of interviews but that was it. My experience was temp work was as difficult to find as full-time work.

            Thankfully, we aren’t looking at moving back there, we’re looking at a major US metro.

    2. Sabrina*

      Yeah. We moved 6 years ago to a new city without jobs because no one would entertain hiring someone from out of town. It was hard for a few months, but it worked out eventually. Now I’d like to move back and am in the same spot. Problem is old city is a lot more expensive than current city and has a tighter job market.

    3. CrazyCatLady*

      I moved across the country a year ago. I had planned on doing it whether or not I had a job and I had a firm moving date. I actually received two job offers before relocating. Only one of them was worth even considering, but it is possible.

    4. Anon for this*

      I’ve decided to pull the plug on my long distance job search, after a year and a half. I resigned a few weeks ago, and I’ll be moving back to my hometown next week, which is exactly where I want to be. I hope my unemployed-ness won’t be viewed too negatively by possible employers, and I am ready for my next adventure!

      1. De Minimis*

        Since it’s your home town, you at least have a good “story” about why you’re there.

    5. Dang*

      Moved 700 miles away (to Midwestern college town) for a job in 2010. It was the only job i had applied for but I wanted to move there because of sig other…

      3 years later wanted to get out of there, moved back home (to major metro area) and have had no luck finding a job in my field since. I’m temping but it took me a year to even find “steady” temp work. The industry is peripherally related to my field but the position is lower level than what I had.

      I think I used my long distance karma up the first time around…

    6. Al Lo*

      In today’s interviews, we had one candidate that we interviewed by phone, since she’s working elsewhere for the summer. What we didn’t realize is that she’s also based elsewhere, and didn’t seem to have a particular need to move to our city, unless she got this job. No real connections; no discussion about why this place is good for her; and, most tellingly, no concept of cost of living or housing here. She seemed to be confident that she could move at the end of the summer and finding housing would be no problem, but her salary expectations and attitude about finding a place to live were very indicative of the fact that she really doesn’t know.

      On the flip side, we had 2 candidates who had moved here within the past 4 months, have been doing some freelancing, and had a reason to move here (whether that was family, arts scene, whatever), which made them come across as so much more stable in looking for full-time, permanent work.

    7. G M*

      Get a local mail forwarder and use a VOIP service to get a local phone number, as long as you’re prepared to fly out for the interview. :P

  11. Mermaid*

    I’m in a situation where I have been living in one city for five years and my family lives far away in another state. I’ve decided that I want to live in my home state and have been trying to get a job there remotely. I’ve had a few interviews but I all over skype and the phone because it is hard for me to travel. I’m planning to move in with my parents (I’m 28, ugh) and search from home within the next month. I’m waiting to hear what outcomes from interviews are so there is a chance I’ll have a job when I return, but am planning to move regardless. This would mean leaving my current job which has left me incredibly depressed. I may soon regret this choice, but I have to take that leap.

  12. Sarahnova*

    I’ve quit both of my last 2 jobs without an offer firmly lined up; how reckless.

    In Scenario 1, I was at an advanced stage with another company, and just felt strongly that to go back to my current employer when there were clearly organisations that fitted me much better was counterproductive. I got an offer through 3 days later.

    In Scenario 2, both my husband and I quit our jobs simultaneously to travel for 6 months. We had savings for over a year and knew he could pick up lucrative contracting work in a pinch. I spent a few months working self-employed when we got back, then got the offer for my current role 3.5 months after we returned. (He was back in work after 3 months.)

    I wouldn’t advise people to quit jobs thoughtlessly, but if you can survive, have a safety net and/or a plan, there are things more important than continuous employment. “Never” is an awfully long time.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I had a co-worker who decided that he and his wife wanted to hike the PCT while they were still young and childless. He asked for an unpaid 6 months off and was told no. So he quit. I can see why they wouldn’t want to hold his job, but they often hired for his position, and he was excellent, so I think they lost more than he did. This was pre-recession, and he got a good job pretty quickly upon his return.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Yeah, we both requested unpaid leave and were denied, and have both consequently found new and better jobs. I am glad the desire to take the trip forced me out of my somewhat-dysfunctional previous employer; it’s one of those places where they slowly convince you that you’re rubbish and no other employer would ever want you, but it’s hard to recognise this happening when you’re in the middle of it. A load fell from my shoulders the day I gave my notice.

  13. Just Visiting*

    I’ve done it twice. Started temping immediately afterwards both times. One of those temp positions led to a permanent job, the other would have if we hadn’t had to relocate. The only thing I regret is staying in those positions for as long as I did (even though both were less than a year, they felt like forever). If you’re willing to temp then I don’t see the problem with doing this at all.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One thing to factor in is that it’s a lot harder to get temp work now that it used to be. Temping used to be a really easy answer in this situation; it’s not nearly as easy anymore.

      1. Just Visiting*

        I haven’t had an issue getting work, but I admit my experiences may not be the norm. My husband has had problems getting temp work both here and in another city, but he doesn’t have a perma-temping background, like I do.

        1. Zillah*

          I think it depends a lot on your work experience and skills, too – when I tried to get temp work after I graduated from undergrad, I was completely unsuccessful.

      2. Alex*

        I’d be really interested in learning more about the current viability and trends of temping – do you have any resources you’d recommend or any posts you can point me to? I’ll do some searching as well but thought I’d throw this out there in case something comes to mind for anyone –

  14. Episkey*

    I think Alison’s advice is generally the most safe/professional, but it can be SO incredibly hard (HARD!) when you’re in a job that literally makes you cry everyday and you dread going in. :/

    1. Kelly O*

      I know it’s not necessarily helpful, but please know you are not the only one.

      I cannot tell you how many times I’ve applied makeup in my car before I go in, or just burst into tears as soon as I closed the door of my car.

      If you can, please try to find something happy outside of work and throw yourself into it. It can be something as simple as a great book or a cross-stitch project or trying new recipes. Just something that makes you happy. It really does help, even if it doesn’t feel like it when you start.

      1. Episkey*

        Thankfully, I am in a job I LOVE now. :)

        However, I was in this position a couple years ago. I wanted to quit everyday. It was a really difficult time in my life. I knew logically that it was better to stay employed until I could find something else, it was just terribly defeating mentally. I totally have sympathy for everyone that is in that kind of situation.

        1. Levois*

          That’s my situation now have been looking for two years. Get a few good interviews and never get hired. Difficult time to be looking for work a new job right now.

        2. Kelly O*

          Thank goodness you are not in that now! :)

          I worry when I see people say things like that. It’s just ridiculously stressful and we shouldn’t have to feel that way about work. I mean, I realize it’s work and not super-happy-fun-playtime (although if you have an opening for that, call me!) but it shouldn’t sap your physical, emotional, and mental reserves to the point that it does sometimes.

      2. De Minimis*

        Been there too….it’s really tough.

        I agree, you have to just try to live for your time outside of work, and then try to make a plan to find something better.

      3. Emmaloo*

        SO true. I treated myself to an Audible subscription, so I can look forward to a long walk with a great book at the end of my work day.

    2. Pearl*

      Urgh. I’ve just escaped a job like this – I had to start keeping a makeup bag in my car because I kept crying my eyeliner off, I had all sorts of weird physical symptoms that must have been stress-related, and I used to fantasize about falling down the stairs and breaking my ankle so I wouldn’t have to come in for a bit. I even cheerfully went in for surgery saying, ‘This is so much more fun than work!’. I hated the job from the first month and it took me 18 months to find something new and get out, but it was so worth it, if only because I got to leave with my head held high, setting off for something better. But yes, it absolutely sucks when you’re in the middle of it and can’t see a way out.

    3. Sabrina*

      Yep. I had a job give me so much anxiety once that my therapist wanted me to go out on short term disability.

      1. Windchime*

        Same here. I had to take 2 or 3 weeks (don’t remember) of time off due to stress and anxiety at last job. We had a unreasonable workload and a terrible bully and it was so anxiety-provoking that I could barely function . My doctor recommended a leave of absence.

        1. Sabrina*

          I wish I had done it. Maybe I would have been thinking clearly and not ended up in current city that I don’t like.

    4. OfficePrincess*

      I quit my last job with nothing lined up for a similar reason. I had taken the job out of desperation (recent grad needing to be done waiting tables) but it was a very bad idea. It was a call center and having so little control (monitored bathroom breaks, no time to drink water between calls, and a manager who played favorites) on top of having to talk to so many people each day led to panic attacks and assorted illnesses (that the one manager thought I was faking). It got to the point where I’d be hyperventilating while still driving down the highway on my way in and would pass out within an hour or so at my desk even after I started on medication for anxiety. It took me 4 months to find something after I left there, but the first month was fully spent just trying to recover. I didn’t want to leave with nothing else lined up, but I had a hard time job searching when I was in such a messed up state. Money was tight, but looking back I see that I should have left even sooner.

  15. E.R*

    When I was 27, I quit my job of about 3 years without anything lined up. I was burnt out, fed up – but the big reason why I quit in that way was because I didn’t want to go to another job, I wanted to take time out and travel, and recover. Sometimes bad career decisions are nevertheless good life decisions. I was reflecting on this the other day and realized that, in a weird way, quitting without having another job lined up has taken away some of the fear of being laid off or jobless. I know what I would do, I know how hard it is (I’m always squirrelling away money for an inevitable disaster).

    Anyways, the only downside was that the job I took upon my return to the workforce was slightly below (in terms of responsibilities and money) what I think I would have accepted had I been coming straight from my previous job, but it ultimately led me down a much more interesting road. Dots connecting in hindsight, and all that.

    1. Just Visiting*

      I was reflecting on this the other day and realized that, in a weird way, quitting without having another job lined up has taken away some of the fear of being laid off or jobless. I know what I would do, I know how hard it is (I’m always squirrelling away money for an inevitable disaster).

      So much this. I have to admit, I can’t understand the sheer terror some people have of being unemployed for even short stretches of time. I completely understand the fear if you have children, a mortgage, no savings, etc. But if you’re child-free and have a self-created safety net, being unemployed isn’t scary at all. Your job is not your life. If I’ve saved up my money and can afford to live job-free for a while, then why shouldn’t I be able to do that? Especially now that the ACA has made this easier.

      I’ve basically decided not to take any more permanent jobs until I am 100%, absolutely convinced it’s the right environment for me. And even then, I’m not so sure. I like the freedom.

      1. Nina*

        A lot of people don’t have enough savings to live off of for long stretches of time, though. I quit when I had a lot saved and I still went through it, even without spending it on frivolous items.

        For younger people and/or those without kids, there’s still the threat of loan repayments for a college degree that may or may not be paying off for them. Add the high cost of living in the US, the abysmal job market that still has thousands unemployed (from all walks of life and generations) and you have people who are afraid to leave the safety of their job, no matter how mentally and emotionally toxic it can be.

        1. Just Visiting*

          Oh, I totally agree. I should have added debt to the list too. I fully admit that my financial position in life is as charmed as you can get without coming from a rich family. I don’t think most of the people who post here would like the lifestyle I lead to make this life possible (highlights: no car, I haven’t bought clothes since 2012, and I eat out once a month). It’s probably not such a good personality trait that I’d rather live like a pauper and hoard like Silas Marner than take a permanent job that isn’t my absolute ideal… but I also know how damaging a bad job can be to my mental health. We’re talking not sleeping for days on end, vomiting at work, etc. For me, refusing to go permanent has kind of flipped the script: I may work there, but they don’t own me, and that makes all the difference.

          1. Nina*

            I can understand that. I don’t see an issue with living frugally if you have a job that makes you happy, it’s a give and take. It’s certainly better than being frugal and miserable, which is what I was. I honestly didn’t know that you could be content at work until I found a decent job after so many crappy ones. I figured being unhappy at work was the norm.

          2. Erica*

            Yes, but a lot of people ALREADY live close to the bone, with the lifestyle you describe, and still can barely make ends meet paycheck to paycheck. In such a situation the “just cut back on luxuries and you can follow your bliss!” type advice can be pretty grating.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I think that terror of being unemployed comes from a number of sources- first our parents/family and their teachings.
        This is cemented in when a person has money shortages constantly while growing up. Or if a person was not allowed to have much money on hand by the folks at home.
        That insecurity can carry over, such that even if the person has savings the fear of being without an income stream is overwhelming.
        Additional problems pile on if there is no budget or a partner will not participate in budget planning.

        You get the idea, I could keep going here. But the punchline is some people see the constant income stream as a solution to a wide range of problems and fears. Flawed thinking perhaps, but this is what the general idea of what is driving it.

  16. Anon Accountant*

    I was saving up to quit my last job with or without another job and was planning to work retail to supplement my savings. We are fortunate to have retail places and restaurants always hiring nearby.

    Our company was bought out in August 2013 but the staff from the old company are still direct reports to our old boss/owner of the former company.

    If a job is affecting your health it’s time to quit (in my opinion) if your financial state can manage a possibly long period of unemployment. Sometimes it helps to set goals such as 1 job search goal per week. This week the goal is to develop more Excel skills. Next week the goal is to attend 2 networking events. It can help change your mindset.

  17. Elizabeth West*

    I have quit a job without another lined up–I got a position before Exjob that turned out to be a nightmare. Nothing I did was right, there was a coworker so horrible I wanted to cry every time I had to work with her, and I ended up spending more time covering someone else’s duties than I did doing my own. I worked there for two months before I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore, and right about that time, my boss called me into a meeting. She said, “I don’t think this is working out,” and I said, “I don’t think it is either. I was going to call you in here, but you saved me the trouble.” We agreed to part ways amicably and her boss was really nice about it also. About five months later, I found Exjob and worked there for six years.

  18. anon-2*

    Obviously – as AAM said – if your current employer asks you to do something illegal or totally unethical – you never should put up with something like that and you should walk out.

    In the “wild west world” of IS/IT, I have only resigned once from a job, it was over a dispute over training. Boss backed down (as did I) when he realized he had been given an ultimatum from me, and this was not a negotiation.
    There was no concrete reason why I shouldn’t join my colleagues in the training session in particular, and if I wasn’t in it, there was no need for me to continue employment. But that was many years ago, and jobs were very easy to come by then.

  19. Anon 71*

    Some ambiguities:

    “Egregiously abusive or harassing treatment” can mean one thing to person A and something else entirely to person B. Some people don’t think smacking another person with something smaller than a club constitutes abuse*, while some others fume just at the thought of being talked to the wrong way.

    “Unethical” is also vague. Is selling cigarettes unethical? I would think so. Is selling hamburgers unethical? I don’t know — they’re unhealthy. Is being forced to lie to subordinates unethical? What about stretching the truth? What about feigning an appearance of knowing something you don’t? The last two seem awfully common.

    *Especially when the person being smacked lacks power or authority. It wouldn’t surprise me if most of this subpopulation would explode in anger if you suggested something like this could happen to *them,* rather than others.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I do agree there are times where it is hard to draw the line.
      The extreme examples are easy. “My boss punched me.” OR “I was forced to create documentation that showed us as having four times the expenses that we actually had.”

      I find relief in Alison’s words because some things are deal breakers and do not require additional thinking. “Go out and slash Bob’s tires.” Bye-bye.

      Some of it boils down to how much you can withstand personally. If a person only lasts at a job for 2-3 months, then probably some self-examination is wise. It could be as simple as “learn how to pick better work places, don’t grab any job you see.” Or the problem could run deeper. My friend lasts two years at a job. Because she is picking the same job over and over.

      I do agree, lying, stretching the truth, faking knowledge/familiarity are pretty common. All I can do is work at not being that person. And it is tough. BTDT. Everyone is saying “Oh ABC never happens” (think something like a safety violation) and I stand there saying “Hey, ABC happens daily.” I better be prepared to die on that hill.

  20. G M*

    I quit a job without having another lined up due to extreme burnout which was (and still is, months later) having effects on my mental and physical health. I’m now on SNAP (food stamps) and just now finally starting to fall behind on debt payments.

    My life isn’t magically transformed, but oh man, do I feel a LOT better than when doing the weekday misery grind, passing out at my desk, and getting angrier and angrier as time would go on starting on Sunday mornings, because I had to work the next day.

    A job is not worth your health. It’s not worth developing addictions to cope. It’s not work extra makeup for crying jags. And the longer you push yourself while in burnout, the longer recovery takes – recovery from the anxiety attacks, the inability to remember things, the lack of focus, the depression, the disappearance of drive to DO something. It’s not linear, either; pushing yourself for 1 more month when you’re burnt to a crisp in a soul-eating job adds *multiple* months to your recovery time. You have to consider which course of action is worse in the end: quitting, or staying and trying to dredge up the energy to job hunt when dredging up the energy to live at all is difficult.

    Do I speak from privilege (on food stamps?) – I don’t know. I’m a white dude with skills in a really hot field with extreme demand. I’m not making enough yet to make ends meet freelancing, but I’ll tell you the days I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally best are the days I’m making 1/5th my former pay landscaping.

    1. Just Visiting*

      I love this. Some people are just not meant to work a regular full time schedule, and I’m coming to believe I’m one of them. I long to freelance; I look at the ebb and flow of money coming in sporadically and it’s energizing, not terrifying. I’m sorta replicating that now with temping but the recruiters all really want me to settle (probably so they can get a big fat paycheck off me). I know I speak from the privilege of someone who doesn’t have any debt or ties other than a spouse, but I’m not obligated to work a full time job because I have privilege.

      1. G M*

        I guess I speak from privilege in the sense that I don’t have kids, or I would have been chained to a career I hate since I’m also not married and would have nobody to spot me while I switched out. People wonder at suicides of parents – look at their work situation, in some cases there are likely some answers.

        Also, I did know the day was coming when I’d need to change careers, and I had the privilege of a tech industry salary to buy a number of durable goods with the plan of having those to keep when I almost-inevitably took a major income cut by leaving tech. However, burnout isn’t something one has much say over, so once I became unable to do my job, I quit.

        1. Just Visiting*

          Yeah, I’m never having a child because I don’t believe I would be able to avoid burnout long enough to hold down a job for years to feed said child. (Also I don’t want one, there’s that.) Parenting locks you in! Since I know that someday I will be a pure freelancer, I feel okay about disregarding a lot of extremely good, but not-applicable-for-me work advice.

          1. G M*

            Last time I was looking for a job (when I should’ve just quit in a more-controlled manner, instead of jumping to an actually decent company and THEN completing my flameout), all manner of people were horrified that I’d made my cat my “personal brand” and used Kurt Vonnegut’s “we’re here on Earth to fart around” quote as the leader on my professional page.

            Got snapped up quick, and both of the higher-up decision makers on my second-round interview spoke to me at length (positively) about the terrible things I should never have revealed before getting down to the questions.

            Again, I can detect my own privilege here in that I did work in a very high-demand field, but if you HAVE that privilege, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using your resume, your “personal brand” (vomit), and your various corp-approved online personas to filter out places you DON’T want to work.

            1. Just Visiting*

              I don’t have the privilege of working in a high-demand field, but I literally cannot make myself give half a shit about looking “polished,” wearing heels, whether or not people care if I go to the company picnic, whether or not people will find out I write and (legitimately) publish science fiction. (Seriously, if you are a writer or artist and use a pen name so your big bad boss doesn’t find out about your true work, my soul cries a river of tears for you.) I don’t quite have fuck-you money yet but I do have several years’ expenses saved up which allows me to be choosy about where/when/how I work. That’s economic privilege but also? It’s something I’ve worked very hard to amass by depriving myself of what 95% of Americans consider essential.

              Some of the things I’ve used to “filter” out folks I don’t want to work for anyway are: not hiding my Appalachian accent, wearing clothes that look like they came from the discount rack at Kohl’s because that’s exactly where they came from, saying my true interest (writing) when they ask about my “hobbies” instead of something safer like scrapbooking, using a firmer handshake than is usual for a woman. Been offered jobs here a couple of times, but I’m holding out for PT or a lax nonprofit (or both). Maybe for some people the corporate mask isn’t that far off from their true self, but it is for you and me.

              (Oh, and saw your follow-up post. I really wish I’d done WWOOFing before I got married. You should totally do it!)

    2. Jam Wheel*

      Oh god do I know the recovery issue.

      I quit last December, sold everything I own and moved overseas to a city I love and have always wanted to live in (yes, legally can work) with a ton of savings and my long-term partner. Throw some culture shock and an interesting living situation on top of recovering from a really toxic workplace (the crying, the gaslighting, the inability to do anything, the depression and anger – oh yeah, I had it all) and its been quite a ride.

      While I have had some interviews here, and some quite quickly just after we arrived and I was hell bent on the I MUST GET A JOB RIGHT NOW, I also realized quickly I just wasn’t ready to go back to a new situation. Breaking down and crying/yelling in the middle of the street one evening to my partner, wailing about how badly I *didn’t* want to go work for a primary competitor in a similar (but higher) role and to not make me go there – even though all i had was a second round interview – was a pretty good sign I wasn’t yet in a good place. (FYI they went with someone else. But I spent 2 hours with the hiring manager, who came from a different division of my old company, gossiping about senior execs and people in common etc. Something to do in an interview? Oh HELL no, but I think maybe it worked on some level as a therapy session for both of us, considering she left under similar circumstances!)

      I took a step back and realized that however long it was going to take to recover was what it was going to take and to just relax. I’ve taken the time to do some pretty deep introspection about what I really want in the next 10-15 years, how that jives with now, skills I have vs what I need to attain, etc. Its put me on a much better, more focused path so that job searching doesn’t feel like the first step back to the terrible mines, but an exciting move towards a better future. Mentally I am much more positive than even 4 months ago and the head fog has cleared considerably, allowing me to see opportunities and think creatively where I couldn’t back in spring.

      1. G M*

        Mine wasn’t as emotional, at least in the explody sense, during or after burnout. IMMEDIATELY after quitting, though, any semblance of structure holding my life together fell away and it felt like my brain shut most of itself down for long-term repairs. I’m really not kidding, the “brain fog” was so thick I seriously thought about trying to get some medical testing done (on no health insurance, heh) – couldn’t plan ANYTHING more than an hour ahead and was aware of the deficit, couldn’t remember things including what I’d intended to do 5 minutes ago, near-total lack of focus, near-total inability to remember any sort of scheduling.

        Granted these are all extensions of things I’m not normally super great at other than the planning, but it was far, far worse than my normal self. It’s still not great but it improved in waves over the first few months and now seems to have slowed down. But during those first few months when I didn’t wonder if I was going crazy, it felt like my brain quite literally needed to heal itself and put up “under construction” signs.

        After some looking into it, what I had going on and the emotional stuff are all pretty common parts of burnout recovery. I’m glad I literally was not able to push myself further.

      2. G M*

        Oh, and given that the burnout wasn’t just work but extreme drag from family and an early-mid-life crisis (both career and what am I doing to improve the world), I’m still fantasizing about moving overseas. I have two cities I’m interested in and where I speak the language (más menos que más) but I have no money and no partner to spot me, so if I’m going, I’m going WWOOF.

        When moving blind to a farm halfway around the world sounds radically better than your current Sisyphean Mount Everest of crap, you have problems, *even if* your core values include doing so as a reasonable course of action. It’s the “better than your current Sisyphean Mount Everest of crap” part. :P

  21. Nervous Accountant*

    I didn’t read through all the comments, so plz forgive me if this was already asked or brought up:

    But what if you’re at a new job and you *already* know it won’t be a good fit? I’m asking based on my question in the last open thread and some new information I’ve gathered. Re: #2, I know how being employed can make you a better candidate but if the job is too short to even put on a resume, how does it even help? If I can’t put it on my resume, how can it make me a better candidate because my last job will still have been 3-4 months ago. I’m not a job hopper nor am I a quitter, but I have WAY too many short term/temp jobs in my history and I’m really trying to build a solid history. Should I just keep sending out my resume without the “new” experience, or leave it as it is and hope for the best (that I end up staying a little longer at my current place)?

    1. Just Visiting*

      Have all or most of your jobs been with the same agency? Put the agency down as your employer. If you’re still signed up with the agency and getting gigs off them, I don’t see the problem with listing your employment dates as “2013 – present” and your position as “Various Temporary Positions.”

    2. Jez*

      I think you will need to explain yourself either way. If you leave the current job on the resume, they will want to know why you’re leaving so soon. If you take it off, a 3-4 month gap would not be a huge deal, but they will want to know why you left the previous job – seems too complicated to conceal it. So I would leave it on and have a good reason why you are leaving so soon, although this might be a red flag if all of your previous positions are short (like less than a year). If your resume doesn’t show a pattern of stability, can you remove some of the shorter or less relevant ones from the past?

      That said, 3-4 months can still be your settling in period. I initially hated my job, so much so that I was interviewing elsewhere at the six-month mark. If I had been successful I would have left, one job in particular I really wanted and they told me I had been their second-choice candidate but #1 accepted the job. Four years later I am very happy s/he did because the job I initially couldn’t stand is now amazing and the best. YMMV and I don’t know your situation but something to consider.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I’ve been seasonal for majority of my career (Tax preparer/accountant) with a few temp admin assistant things here and there (though that’s not on my resume) so there’s no way at all that I can take anything out. It’s not that I haven’t tried but……something always happened (long story).

        I’m not one to run away from a job, I enjoy my actual work and I was initially very excited about working there…..but I had some reservations about the owner after my first few days and I’m not sure if this will last long.

  22. double shift*


    I have two jobs: 1: a 35 hr/week open-ended temp position (possibly TTP), and 2: a seasonal (end of September) housekeeping position which works out to about 28 hours every other week (working 4 hours overnight for 6-10 days straight.) I LOVE Job 1. It pays pretty well for the work, but no benefits as a temp (which is okay for now.) So basically that job covers my rent and other expenses.

    I took Job 2 about a month ago because I will have (local) moving expenses and I’d like to set myself up to start freelancing* on the side (which would require I move first). But it kills me. The work is a bit more than I’m physically comfortable with, and to put it nicely: there was miscommunication about the hours of the shift (which are inflexible), and the awkward hours are cutting into my sleep schedule, thus sort of messing me up at Job 1. (There are also a few other minor issues.) Leaving me in a bit of a dillema: I *can’t* quit Job 2, but I *have to* quit Job 2. OTOH, it is only every other week until the end of September, and if I stay for the season, I still have the door open for another seasonal housekeeping position which would start in October with more convenient hours.

    So I’m looking for a weekend position to replace Job 2.

    Should I put Job 2 on my resume/application? Do I look more desirable with the second job, or less so because it would look like either I would jump ship so soon or be crazy enough to think I could work 3 jobs (whereas Job 2 would obviously create a schedule conflict)?

    I don’t have to work Job 2 this week, so I’m planning on going all out with an entry-level job search this week. And as a side note, resigning from Job 2 with short notice would not burn bridges.

    *I would NOT be writing, as you can see.

  23. Faye*

    Last job wouldn’t allow me any vacation time since I had been working almost 2 years. I had foot surgery scheduled, I had to leave. They wanted me back at work in 3 day of the surgery. I told them I can’t drive, I will be on Codeine and groggy plus I wouldn’t be able to walk for a week. They said nothing and let me leave. I was a very hard worker and went above and beyond in customer service. It is a year later and I am still looking for a job. Foot is completely heeled.

  24. Jean*

    Hi Ms. Allison

    I’ve got trouble right now and I really need your advice

    I’m a new graduate and in the job reference. It’s a big and stupid mistake that I resigned for my jobs just because I don’t like it. Clearly I didn’t think carefully about I’ve been doing before quitting and I don’t have another job

    After that, I felt regret and I asked my boss for coming back, he accepted it and obviously not forgot to notice me how about I make trouble for them. Actually, it’s only one day when I quit job and call him. So I’m really worry about attitude and thoughts of everyone about me. I’m quite embarrassed now

    I know this can’t accepted and should I quit job at this company because I think I’ve already lost the respects and reliance of my boss and other people. I can imagine bad comments about me and it’s not easy for me

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