So you’ve debated, dissected, agonized, and analyzed and you’ve finally come to the decision that it is definitely time to leave your job.   So how should you do it? 

The first question you’re going to want to consider is whether to give your notice immediately or wait until you have lined up another job first.  My general rule of thumb is to stay in your current role until you have secured better employment.  However, that being said, there certainly are shades of gray, and you’ll want to consider all factors when deciding, such as:

  • Why you want to or need to leave (Are working conditions bad?  Are you looking to start a business of your own?)
  • What your financial situation looks like (Have you factored in how long you will be out of the market and how you will afford this?)
  • What your career history looks like (If you have had a lot of job-hopping in the past, it might be better to stay put to avoid a “gap” in your resume.)
  • If you can emotionally handle not being employed for an extended period of time (How good or robust is your support network?)
  • Any health issues that might be impacted by being out of work
  • How resilient you are

If you’re leaving for a potential career reinvention, which is my area of expertise, it may take some time to assess exactly what you want to do, to road-test possible careers, and perhaps to get some experience in the new field.  This may require leaving a job immediately, or reducing hours, in order to devote the necessary time to reinvent yourself successfully.

If you’re looking to stay in the same field, but find different employment, quitting your current job may be harder to get around when interviewing for a potential new job, because you will have to explain why you are not working and what happened.  In this scenario, it might be helpful to work with a career coach to find out what is not working and explore some very short-term strategies to stay sane while staying in that job and looking for a new one at the same time.   

If you’re leaving to start a business of your own, that may not be an all-or-nothing proposition.  If you have a good relationship with your employer, you may be able to negotiate a mutual part-time role that will allow you to launch your own business (while still bringing in some revenue), and also help your employer transition as well.

Regardless of the category your situation might fall under, it is important to know yourself well.  Some of us can’t put in the required effort it takes to find a new job, while still keeping an old job and tending to life’s other responsibilities.  In that case, a clean break might be necessary in order to move on.  Others may feel like they will lose motivation and energy if they don’t have regular employment.  And having limited time might keep them focused and avoid laziness and procrastination.  It’s crucial to do an honest self-assessment of these issues when deciding how and when to leave your current job for a potential new one.