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Should you ever leave a job when you don’t have a job to go to?

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

We’ve probably all been warned at some point not to throw in the towel before getting a new job lined up. It might be age-old advice, but it is a sensible rule of thumb that most people still tend to follow.

However, there’s no black and white answer. Everyone’s work situation is different and no two people’s life circumstances are identical. There are exceptions to the old rule, but it’s certainly not a decision to take lightly. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before taking the leap.

Will it harm your future job prospects?

It’s important to be smart when making a decision such as this. The last thing you want is to hamper any future career plans. While the stigma attached to being out of work has diminished considerably, some employers still haven’t come around to the notion that candidates may have elected to being out of work for good reasons.

Are you radically changing career direction?

Perhaps you’re planning on switching up your career completely and you need to undertake some form of training or education to help you make the transition. If you won’t be able to hold down a full-time job, and you’re absolutely sure that the new career is what you want to do, then resigning might be your only option.  Providing you’ve got a plan, and the means to support yourself while you’re re-training, then there shouldn’t be any reason for regret.

Is your job affecting your health?

If your job is negatively affecting your health and your life outside of work, then it might be time to consider leaving, even if you haven’t yet secured another position. Your health and sense of wellbeing should be the priority, and both of these things are at risk if a toxic work situation has begun to trickle into your personal life.

It might be that you’re grappling with a destructive company culture, enduring a sour relationship with your boss or trying to keep up with unsustainable hours. If you’ve done everything in your power to try and improve the situation, but your work is still causing you more strife than fulfilment, then it’s time to look at your options.

Are you financially prepared?

The length of time that you’ll spend searching for your new role is a huge unknown. You might land your ideal job in a few weeks; but it might take a matter of months. Either way, you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

If you’ve got the financial means to support yourself for several months then it could be a viable option for you to leave your post without a new gig. You might even decide that you want to use the opportunity to take a career break and really take the time to find your dream job.

If you do decide to hand in your resignation prematurely, make sure you remain professional. Think carefully about the reasons you give and the impression you leave – you’ll be grateful for a good reference when you do find greener pastures.

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