Why I Quit My Job Before I Had a New One
I’m sure you’ve heard tell that it’s a bad idea to leave your job before you have a new one, that prospective employers are suspect of any gaps in employment – even voluntary ones. However, this is not always true.
Less than two months ago I made a decision to leave my job. It was a great job, a fantastic teaching position at one of the premier preschools in the country. Truly, one of the best positions any early childhood educator could want. The problem? I never dreamed I’d be a teacher. I went to school for many years, earning two masters degrees in the health profession, but using neither, as I transitioned straight from grad school into a magnificent job with a startup company and then into teaching.
As parents do, my mom asked time and again if I was ever going to put my degrees to use. When I really stopped to think about it, I did want to use my degrees, but wasn’t sure how or when I would be able to look for a position in my desired field while spending my days in a full-time job. I want to share with you the steps I’m taking.
Know your goals.
What job do you want? Begin to do some targeted searching on job sites. Are there enough interesting positions open? Are you applying for a career that hires more at certain times of the year (e.g., teaching)? Are you changing fields completely or just looking to make a lateral move? If you are not confident in your direction and what is available, maybe leaving your job before you have a new one isn’t the right move for you.
Make a plan and understand the risks.
Lay out a calendar with a hard timeline. How many months can you afford to take off to find your ideal position? How many positions will you apply to each week? By what date would you like to schedule your first interview? I’m not rich, nor do I have months of savings squirreled away (even though I know I should), but I’I’ve tightened my budget and set sequential goals for myself.
Have a backup plan.
If you resign from your job, you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Can you focus on your #sidehustle or fall back on waiting tables for a while? If you near the end of your timeline and you don’t have a new position lined up, figure out what else you can do to cover your bills, and don’t be embarrassed because you took a part-time job at a local boutique to do so.
Update your résumé.
If you are shifting career fields completely, like I am, update your résumé to highlight the strengths applicable to your new venture. Stress these assets in cover letters and interviews, and let prospective employers know up front why you are looking to make a change at this time. I am currently in the interview process with several organizations and have been able to clearly and concisely explain my desire to get my career on track, siting one and ten year plan benchmarks as supports.
Use your network!
Reach out to friends and family who work in the field where you are seeking employment. Send some targeted emails and browse your friends’ LinkedIn connections. Make sure your career website profiles are up to date and protect your social media profiles from prying eyes.