Don’t Quit Your Job Without a Plan; Do This Instead

Remote Job HuntingWorking Remotely

Tempted to quit your job without a plan? We outline the pros and cons of quitting without another job lined up and share a better solution for your career.

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Have you ever quit a job without a plan for what to do next?

It’s hard to avoid all the text message rage quits going viral now. And if you’re feeling overworked, underappreciated, and burned out, it’s all too tempting to quit your job without another lined up.

Hey, you’re not alone.

A new Microsoft study revealed that 54% of Gen Zers and 41% of all global employees are considering leaving their jobs [*]. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says over 240,000 Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 alone [*]!

The Great Resignation is inspiring employees around the world to find better options for their careers. It’s also spearheading an en masse transition to permanent remote work.

But the differences between resigning and quitting can have major effects on your career, quality of life, and financial security.

So in today’s guide, we’ll highlight the pros and cons of leaving a job without another lined up. Then we’ll share a better solution, so you don’t have to quit your job without a plan.

First: The Difference Between Resign vs. Quit

Let’s first define the nuances between resigning from a job versus quitting one.

Resigning is when you give your employer notice about your intent to leave your position. You write a resignation letter, typically work two weeks to tie up loose ends, and leave with the potential to be rehired at a later date. 

Your coworkers and leaders may be sad, but they’ll respect your decision and remain solid network references. They may even take your lead and start looking for one of the best paying remote jobs too.

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Quitting occurs when you walk out or vacate your position abruptly and without notice. You don’t work your two weeks or follow any formal HR processes for leaving. The company may list you as unhirable in the future. And you may even be in breach of contract, depending on your position. 

You’ll probably have to consider this bridge burned. Your boss and coworkers might feel betrayed or be upset if they’re forced to work overtime to pick up your job duties on short notice.

Though resignation seems like the more professional option, there are good reasons to quit a job.

The Pros and Cons of Quitting a Job Without Another Job Lined Up

What happens if you quit a job without a plan?

👀 Con: No Money, More Problems

When you quit without another job lined up, your incoming cash disappears, but your expenses continue to pile up.

Despite being in a candidate-driven job market, competition for remote jobs is at an all-time high. It could take weeks or even months for you to land on your feet.

So do you have enough savings to get by? You shouldn’t tap into your emergency fund as unexpected expenses, accidents, and car trouble may still strike.

Instead, save at least six months’ worth of expenses in your account before you quit.

Add up all your essential expenses (such as your mortgage/rent, car payment, insurance, medical bills, food, childcare/eldercare, etc.) for one month. Then calculate your must-have luxury expenses (such as your gym membership or favorite subscriptions).

Combine your essential and luxury expenses for one month, then multiply this by six to determine how much money you need before ditching your steady paychecks. Decide what you can forgo if money gets tight.

Remember, if you have health insurance tied to your employer, you’ll also lose this when you quit. So factor in that you might need to pay more out of pocket to continue coverage.

👏 Pro: Your Mental Health and Happiness May Skyrocket

If you’re being disrespected, harassed, or discriminated against, you may not be able to stand one more day in a toxic work environment. Same goes if you’re feeling the signs of burnout.

We don’t blame you for wanting to escape!

Anthony C. Klotz, a professor at Texas A&M University, coined the term “The Great Resignation” because he predicted that tons of workers would start resigning due to higher post-pandemic stress levels [*].

If COVID-19 gave you a chance to reevaluate what matters most in life, quitting a job that’s harming your physical, emotional, and mental health may be the best option. 

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After all, if you’re too stressed or drained to focus your attention on anything else, how can you devote yourself to a remote job hunt?

But before you quit, consider taking some time off to completely disconnect from work. Then you’ll truly know whether you just needed a break versus a permanent separation. 

👏 Pro: More Time to Remote Job Search

Finding the best work from home jobs is almost a part-time job in and of itself. So if you’re already clocking in a 60+ hour workweek and constantly stressed, you may lack the energy, focus, and creativity to apply for new positions.

Quitting will free you up and help you gain some career perspective. You can actually think about your career goals and what you really want to do. You may even decide you want to change careers or skill up with new certifications, which you’ll need time to explore. 

👀 Con: You May Feel Guilty About Leaving Your Team In the Lurch

No one wants to be the cause of workplace distress. But if you up and leave your team, they may resent and cut professional ties with you. 

Do you want your entire work history together and your client relationships to go up in smoke? Or would you rather keep these connections in your network?

Resign or quit; the choice is totally up to you. But at least look where you’re going before you take the leap.

Don’t Quit Your Job Without a Plan; Do This Instead

If you see no way forward with your current employer, it’s time to organize your game plan to leave on the best possible terms. Follow these remote job search tips and resignation best practices to get this right:

1. Be Clear About Your Reasons For Quitting

You should always address aspects of your job that you dislike with HR and management. Together you may be able to create satisfying workarounds, especially if you like your company and coworkers.

But if you took this route and nothing improved, you may be at a dead end. Let’s say you tried to negotiate flexible working arrangements, but management refuses to allow employees to work from home. There’s not much you can do here, and it may be your cue to look for greener pastures.

Some other good reasons for leaving a job include:
  • Company downtown, acquisition/merger, corporate restructuring
  • No longer feeling aligned with the company culture, mission, or leadership
  • Lack of career advancement or opportunities for growth
  • Wanting a career change in a new industry
  • Better compensation and benefits
  • Relocation 

Any of those reasons will be acceptable to hiring teams when they ask why you left your last position. You can reframe the negative into a positive that shows off your work ethic and desire to progress in your career.

Psst! These are the most common reasons people quit their jobs and start remote work

However, telling hiring teams that you hated your boss or felt bored, stressed, or overworked may not go over as well. You might get labeled as a “problem” employee. And if you quit instead of resigning, they may question your loyalty and resilience. These will not work in your favor. 

2. Search for These Types of Remote Jobs

What types of jobs are currently available in your industry for someone with your title or experience? Notice tons of positions you’re qualified for, or are they few and far between?

Before you abandon ship, it helps to see what you may be jumping into. 

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You may need to learn how to decode the secret language of remote job descriptions to get an accurate picture here. Then keep these three types of jobs on your radar:

1. Stretch jobs, or positions you may not be totally qualified for. These take you out of your comfort zone, challenge you to stretch your skills, and help you grow in your career. If you’re currently a marketing associate, for example, a marketing manager position would be a stretch job.

Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with diverse work histories and transferable skills. So you may receive a call back from these applications, despite your lack of experience.

Read this next: High-Paying Remote Jobs You Can Land With No Remote Experience

2. Safety jobs, which are essentially like a lateral move. This group includes job titles you already have on your resume, job duties you’re familiar with, and similar responsibilities.

3. Contract jobs. If you’re not ready to leave your full-time job, consider picking up a side gig to test the waters in a new industry or career. Temporary or gig work could have the potential to turn into your main source of income. And it will show you whether you really enjoy this new endeavor.

Hoping your next position is fully remote? Keep checking We Work Remotely -- the best remote job board on the planet! 

So why look for three different types of jobs?

Because in the grand scheme of your career, stretch jobs are definitely worth leaving your current position for. Safety jobs make a quick exit from your job easy with as little disruption to your daily routine. And contract gigs may provide serious direction.

Just make sure you know how to tell a legitimate remote job from a scam, and you’ll have a wealth of possibilities to consider. 

Don’t forget to set up job alerts, so you’re notified whenever a position in your industry or matching your job search keywords gets posted. Employers are in a hiring frenzy, and it’s better to apply to jobs you’re interested in ASAP.

3. Spruce Up Your Resume and Online Reputation

You should always have an updated resume ready to go. Scratch that; you should always have a few resumes ready. Use a tool like CVStep to make this process quick and easy!

Career coaches recommend creating a resume template and customizing each version for the positions you’re applying for. Then when you find matching job listings, all you have to do is change a few words in your template, save the new version, and be one of the first candidates to apply.

Going back to that earlier example, you might create one resume for general marketing roles and another for marketing manager or marketing director positions.

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Always tailor your resume to each position. The best way to do this? Go through the job ad line by line and use the same keywords in your resume. This helps your resume beat applicant tracking systems (ATS) and shows hiring teams you’re the right fit.

Highlight transferable skills for remote work. You can land a remote job with no experience if you prove you can handle the job duties. Try to include the top tech skills for remote work, and you’ll be golden.

Update your professional online reputation, so when hiring managers perform a search of your name, they’ll find the most accurate information. Check that your job responsibilities and certifications are current on your LinkedIn page. And consider setting your Instagram or other social accounts to private for now.

Build a remote job portfolio online to demonstrate your resume skills in action. Highlight code you’ve programmed, campaigns you’ve run, or clients you’ve worked with. Add this link to your resume, and hiring teams will see firsthand what you’re capable of.

Let your network know you’re considering a career change. Don’t make this info public with a post that may reach your coworkers before you’re ready to leave. But let your trusted network know you’re available for opportunities, especially if they work for companies you’re interested in joining.

4. Create a Quitting Plan to Leave On a Professional Note 

You can’t control how your boss or coworkers will feel or what happens in the workplace after you’re gone. But you can help minimize the unexpected stress your leaving may cause and keep your good references.

So create a quitting plan that outlines:

How you’re going to tie up loose ends, unfinished work, or long-term projects. Will you wrap these up during your two weeks? Hand them off to a teammate? Come up with a plan for your transition so outstanding work doesn’t affect your coworkers or clients.

Write a formal resignation letter. Be calm and firm in your tone and express gratitude for the opportunity and what you learned in your role. Do a quick online search for resignation letter templates you can follow.

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Tell your boss as soon as you land a new position. Don’t delay this uncomfortable conversation. Give your team as much notice as you can so they’re not left scrambling. Ask to schedule a one-on-one meeting with your boss either in person or over video.

Don’t be angry, frustrated, or nervous. Simply say something like:

After much careful consideration, I’ve decided to accept a position that will allow me to pursue my goal of [insert job activity] as a/n [insert job title]. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and all I’ve learned here. I’d like my last day to be [insert date]. Can we discuss a plan to make this transition as smooth as possible?

If you’re asked to stay longer than the standard two weeks, make sure to get an official end date in writing. Chances are, your new employer will be flexible with your start date and appreciate the way you’re handling the transition. 

Never Quit a Job Without a Plan Again

Experts say autumn is the best season to land a new job, so let’s not waste any more time! Follow this roadmap, and you’ll be prepared to find your dream remote role without sabotaging your professional references or reputation. 

Nervous about starting a remote job search? Don’t be! Check out this guide on How to Overcome the Hardest Parts of Landing a Remote Job next.

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