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Ask the Headhunter: Should I just quit, or find a new job first?

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


Question: Would you ever advise quitting a job before having another one lined up? I have completely lost faith in my employer and in my job, and I fear getting fired or worsening what’s left of my relationships here. I’d like to quit now. Is that a bad idea?

Nick Corcodilos: People do it all the time — they quit their job before finding a new one. I suggest taking a little time to think it through. Emotions can carry us away and lead us into poor decisions. Time has a way of separating our feelings from the facts. (See “Is it time to quit my job?”) I’m not saying you should not just up and quit — that’s up to you.

There’s also the “how” of quitting to consider. For more about this, see “Quit, Fired, Downsized: Leave on your own terms.” Make sure you control your exit and that the door doesn’t hit you on the way out.

Stop and think first.

If there’s no urgent reason to act now, pause and:

  • Consider what options you really have.
  • Map out the possible consequences of whatever you decide.

That is, is quitting your only option? Can you transfer to another job or department or company location, and would that solve your problem? And if you quit suddenly, how will that affect your life?

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Beware of pay-to-play job interview scams

Here are some other questions to consider:

  • Can you afford a protracted unemployment if you quit without a new job?
  • Do you have enough savings to tide you over for three to six months — or longer?
  • Do you have good job prospects that you could develop quickly?
  • Considering the area where you live and work, are you job hunting in a field where being unemployed will affect how you’re perceived in job interviews?
  • Will being unemployed help you devote the necessary time to job hunting? Will it improve your state of mind?

Depending on your answers, quitting immediately could be a good idea. But only you can make the judgment.

There’s bias against the unemployed.

As a headhunter, I’ve never worried that a good candidate was presently unemployed — but some headhunters, recruiters, HR people and employers have a bias against unemployed people. It’s goofy — it reveals that employers and recruiters don’t trust their own judgment of a person’s value, and they don’t know how to identify discounted value that they can capitalize on. But you may find yourself dealing with that bias.

If you’re planning to get a new job through strong personal contacts, those contacts may have enough positive data about you that irrational biases won’t affect you.

The flip side of bias against unemployed job seekers is bias against demoralized, discouraged and unhappy job seekers. If staying at a miserable job while you’re interviewing for new jobs renders you ineffective, then it may be better to just quit and get excited about getting that new job!

I don’t offer quick and easy answers, because there are none. My mentor taught me long ago: “Use your judgment, and do the best you can.” Focus on the two bold-faced words. Think about the benefits and risks, and go from there. I really think that’s how to go about it. I wish you the best.

Ask the Headhunter: My boss gave me a promotion, but HR won’t agree to my raise. What now?

(If you’re going to quit, do it right. Take a look at the topics list for my PDF book, “Parting Company: How to leave your job.” How you leave can affect a lot of things you may not be aware of.)

Dear Readers: Have you ever quit a job before finding a new one? What should this reader do?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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