Should I Quit My Job?

Should I stay at my job or should I quit before starting a job search

Should I Quit My Job?

“Should I stay or should I go now?” – The Clash

This is an age-old question: Should I quit my job and then look or look for a new job while still employed?

In post-pandemic 2021, employees and leaders who stayed in jobs they disliked (even hated) over the past year to have some stability in their lives during the pandemic are now feeling they can leave that terrible job. This question of “should I stay and look for a job or quit my job and then look” has never been more prevalent.

Some already have that answer: The Wall Street Journal finds many are choosing to quit before finding a job, as they state people are quitting their job at the highest levels in two decades.

Many don’t want to go back to the office now that they have had a chance at remote work life. They feel they can take the risk in quitting before finding a new remote job.

Others can’t wait to get back into the office. 

One thing we all have in common is that the pandemic made us realize we need to do what makes us happy at work and in life. And that might now warrant a job change.  

In fact, 26% of employed individuals are looking for a new job in 2021, according to CNBC. Flexibility, career advancement and leveling-up skill sets are the main reasons for changing jobs in 2021. 

While quitting your job without a job in hand may be the way many choose to shrug off the pandemic vibes and re-enter the new world we find ourselves in today, be sure to evaluate what is best for you and don’t follow the herd.

Beware of anyone who gives advice on this question in a hard and fast rule format.

For most people, it is better to stay employed and look for a new role while employed.

Others commit to looking for a new job full-time after quitting their current job. 

I've seen people quit and dedicate 40-50 hours per week to job landing activities and land something within a couple months.

But it really comes down to what’s right for you.

However, it’s a risk.

And if you take this path, you have to prepare for the worst case scenario…

Shore up finances as if the search will take you longer than expected… like double the time you hope. I tend to use a conservative rule: For every 20K, it can take 4 weeks to find the job you want.

So if you make $200K, plan on having finances secured for 10 months if you quit your job.

Reduce expenses. Look at plan B for short-term income streams. Can you do interim consulting or shift work to offset expenses?

Assess your prospects in the locations where you want to work, and research the demand for your skill set in those areas.

Does your industry frown upon employment breaks or does freelancing and short-term gigs happen often and viewed positively?

I've worked with others who went through the “shore up your finances to quit” exercise and “are my skills in demand” assessment. When the exercises were complete, it was clear that it wouldn't make sense to quit due to financial obligations.

Sometimes an industry does not approve of sabbaticals without a job… some welcome it.

While others do this assessment and realize there is a great demand for what they do. They know if they make looking for a job a full-time job, they will find what they want.

And I have seen it done.

It is feasible… but it's not for the faint-of-heart.

The real answer is “it depends.”

There isn't a clear cut answer.

An obvious question that comes when evaluating whether to quit now is “How long does a job search take?”

Despite my suggestion of assuming it takes about 4 weeks for every 20K in salary, it's a ballpark general rule.  In actuality, this, too, depends on the person and their situation.

Here are some factors to consider that can make that “how long should it take to find a job” time frame shorter or longer:

  • Are you career changing (takes longer) or staying in the same field (shorter)?
  • Are you flexible on your salary (shorter time to find work), or are you at the top of your bracket and not flexible on your compensation (may take longer to find what you need)?
  • Do you already have a robust network you can tap or do you have to build your network in the area where you want to land work? If your network is already relatively established, your job search could be shorter.
  • Are you open to relocation or not? Do you plan on moving to the region before you land work (faster to find work there if you are there) or moving once you land an offer (takes much longer to find the job when looking not in the area yet typically)?
  • Are you in a geographic area and/or industry with a lot of opportunity (in-person or remote)? Clearly, if you are in an area that has demand, your job search could be shorter.

These are some of the factors to consider that can contribute to the amount of time your search can take.

It truly varies from person to person, and one answer does not fit all.

The key is to make a decision that is a little bit of trouble, and not double the trouble…(yes, I could not let The Clash reference go…)

If you decide to stay and make it work, you won’t have to make this decision….

But, if you decide to leave, make sure you have an optimized LinkedIn Profile which will put you in the position to generate more quality job leads and allow you to be found by your target audience/hiring managers.


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