1. Career Advice
  2. Career Path
  3. Quitting your job without having another lined up? Think about this.
Quitting your job without having another lined up? Think about this.

Quitting your job without having another lined up? Think about this.

Artwork by: Irina Troitskaya

  • Good reasons to consider quitting your job without another lined up
  • A toxic workplace
  • Unreliable salary or benefits
  • A desire for new opportunities or possibilities
  • Whenever possible, build up your savings before quitting your job without another job lined up
  • The importance of delivering a two-week notice
  • Talking about your resignation constructively during job interviews
  • Key takeaways

Ideally, you should have a new career lined up before you quit your old job. Sometimes, though, quitting your job is the best choice for your long-term career and mental health, even if you’ll spend some time unemployed. Learn more about when and how it’s best to part ways from your current career.

If your current job isn’t satisfying and doesn’t let you pursue your dreams, resigning can be the best choice on a personal and professional level. Even if you don’t have a replacement career lined up, quitting your current job can still be the right call, financial risk or no. 

What’s important is planning out your resignation, managing your finances well, and making sure your span of unemployment is as short and stress-free as possible.

This article will cover the following job resignation challenges:

  • Quitting your job if your workplace is toxic

  • Quitting your job over compensation issues

  • Quitting your job if you’re seeking new opportunities

  • Making sure you have enough savings in your bank account

  • How to deliver your two-week notice

  • Talking about your resignation during job applications and interviews

Good reasons to consider quitting your job without another lined up

A toxic workplace

Long hours. Ungrateful customers. High-pressure tasks. Unpleasant coworkers. Bosses that bully and berate. Safety hazards. A lack of union representation. These variables and others can make a workplace highly stressful and miserable to work at. They can even possibly damage a person’s physical and mental health. 

Before the recent pandemic, workers were often encouraged to grit their teeth and endure stressful jobs until they found another, better one. The trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 didn’t just popularize remote workplaces. It also encouraged workers across the world to take a step back, think about what they want out of life, and strive more actively for jobs that are financially and personally fulfilling. If you’re feeling terribly stressed by the daily grind of your current career, take a moment to center yourself. Identify the root reasons for your stress, i.e. being overwhelmed by work tasks, pressured to work overtime too often, forced to rub shoulders with corrosive personalities, etc. 

Talk with your supervisor first and see if you can negotiate a new working arrangement that removes your key sources of stress. If your supervisor is dismissive or unwilling to address your issues, that’s a sign you should move on from this job pronto, even if it means skipping the usual formalities.

Unreliable salary or benefits

When talking with hiring managers during your first job interview, you shouldn’t be too aggressive when asking about salary and benefits. Once you’ve received or accepted a formal job offer, however, it becomes a different story. 

Businesses, as profit seeking entities, will almost always pay the lowest possible salaries they think their employees will accept. This means you need to be your own advocate when it comes to getting paid fairly for your work...and leaving a workplace that doesn’t respect your efforts on their behalf.

A job can be “good” for many reasons: fun coworkers, rewarding, creative tasks, freedom to decide your hours, and so on. At a bare minimum, however, a job needs to support your current lifestyle with benefits such as health insurance and a salary that’s fair and, more importantly, reliable.

A job that pays you a small but consistent salary can be better than a job that pays you well on paper but doesn’t actually deliver your promised wages on time. If your employer sends you paychecks at unpredictable intervals or changes your work schedule without warning, you can’t accurately predict how much money you’ll have at the end of each month. 

This doesn’t just make it harder for you to deal with your financial obligations. It also creates unnecessary tension between you and your company, as you find yourself forced to constantly message your supervisor and assert your right to the money you were promised. 

Expert Tip

If you’ve written several letters requesting a salary increase from your employer only to be refused each time, announcing your plans to resign can serve as a final negotiating tactic. If they actually value your work and expertise, your supervisor might earnestly ask about your reasons for leaving and offer you a better payment plan or extra benefits.

Declarations of resignation should never be used to threaten your employers. They should also never be a bluff. If you talk with your supervisor about your plans to resign and they make no effort to talk you out of it, that’s a sign they don’t value your accomplishments or think they can find someone to replace you. Better to part on polite terms, arrange your exit strategy, and seek out a business that will value you more.

Professionals planning to quit their current job often keep working there until they find a new, better-paying position.That said, if you receive paychecks at uneven intervals or your employers reduce your wages/working hours without warning, you’re better off resigning right away and throwing all your efforts into your job search. There’s no point in working hard for your business if you’re not sure they’ll reward you for it.

A desire for new opportunities or possibilities

Even with decent salaries and low-stress workplaces, you might wake up one day and realize your current job is holding you back from realizing your dreams. 

Perhaps you want to finish earning an academic degree, but don’t have time to study with a full-time position. You might feel subtly unsatisfied with the work you’re currently performing. Your current gig might be a dead-end position with no paths for advancement. Or maybe you simply need to change your life and reinvent yourself for a new job.

It’s perfectly valid to quit your job for reasons not related to financial needs or personal health. Even if you don’t have another job you can leap right into, a bit of free time and a change of pace can revitalize your life and give you the opening to pursue goals and ambitions you once set aside. 

What’s important is having plans in place before you resign - plans such as enrolling in an institute of learning, rigorously researching new career opportunities, or even founding your own business with colleagues or willing investors.

Whenever possible, build up your savings before quitting your job without another job lined up

If you’re quitting your current job without other prospects on hand, make sure you have enough savings to support you during your period of unemployment.

Before the pandemic, the average unemployed professional took about six months to find a new job after quitting their old one. If you’re planning to quit your job in these times of uncertainty, it’s wise to build up savings that will keep your household afloat for 6 to 12 months.

Statistical Insight

The latest Employment Situation Summary from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics contained interesting employment facts such as the following:

The US unemployment rate is currently at 3.5%.

Among the total number of unemployed individuals in the US, 18.5% have been without work for an extended period of time.

Currently, roughly 3.9 million US employees are working part time due to reductions in hours or an inability to find full-time work.

To figure out how much you’ll need to last over six months without a job, calculate your monthly living expenses in detail. Tally up costs for needs such as food, rent, electricity, gas, mortgage, or insurance payments. If your soon-to-be former job has benefits such as stock options or a 401k, try to calculate how much revenue you’ll lose once these benefits expire.

If you have emergency funds stowed away, don’t add these to your final calculations for your savings. Those funds are in place for worst-case scenarios, which you hopefully will not experience before finding another job.

The importance of delivering a two-week notice

Theoretically, you can quit your job by standing up from your workstation, marching out of your workplace, and never coming back. 

However, if you don't want to burn bridges with your old company or jeopardize getting references, a properly delivered two-week notice is essential. Supervisors will have time to adjust to your absence from the workplace, and you’ll maintain your reputation as a professional who is courteous and thoughtful. Before preparing your two-week notice, re-read your employment contract and search for rules or policies related to quitting your job. Some companies will add non-compete clauses that forbid employees from leaving to work at rival businesses, for instance. Other contract terms might guarantee post-employment perks such as retaining your company’s insurance for a time.

The best way to deliver your notice is face-to-face in a direct meeting with your supervisor. If your supervisor is swamped with work or otherwise unavailable, you can compose a resignation email or send them a resignation letter.

The actual statement of notice should be clear and concise. Greet your supervisor politely, express gratitude for your time working with them, and tell them that you’ve decided to move on.


A boilerplate two weeks notice statement:

Hello, [Supervisor Name Here]. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.

It’s been wonderful working with you at [Business Name Here]. After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to move on and pursue some new opportunities. 

I was planning to depart by [End Date Here]. Is there anything I can do to make the transition easier on your end?

Give your supervisor a concrete end date – i.e. the day and time you plan to leave your old job for good. At the same time, be willing to negotiate a compromise where you quit at a time that better fits your supervisor’s needs–especially if you don’t have another job lined up. 

You’re not obligated to talk about why you’re quitting your current position. That said, your supervisor might be more willing to give you valuable parting advice or write you letters of recommendation if you explain why you’re quitting and where you want to go next.

Talking about your resignation constructively during job interviews

Even if you don’t have a new job lined up when you quit your current one, effort and a large number of applications will eventually net you a job interview. During this interview, hiring managers might ask you about your career history and may even want to know why you left your old job. 

When answering questions like “Why did you leave your old job?” during an interview, you can give the same response you offered when delivering your two-week notice. 

Ideally, you should be able to take the topic of why you left your old job and turn it into a springboard to talk about your skills and strengths, answer questions about your career aspirations, and discuss how you could help your new employer’s business to prosper.



Use phrases like these when telling interviewers why you left your old job:

Discuss these topics when telling interviewers why you left your old job:

“I was looking for a position that would give me more chances to apply my skills.”

Bad relations or disagreements with coworkers or bosses.

“My old position didn’t give me opportunities to advance and achieve my long term goals.”

A lack of good salary or benefits.

“I had worked at my old position for a long time, and felt a change was in order.”

How your job’s responsibilities were boring or pointless.

Key takeaways

  1. It’s perfectly valid to quit your job without having another lined up if your workplace is toxic and stressful, your salary/work schedule is unreliable, or if you feel you need a change in your life.

  2. Before handing in your resignation, talk with your supervisor to see if they’re willing to offer you better wages, benefits, working conditions, or advancement opportunities. If they come across as apathetic towards your future prospects, that’s a sign that staying on would be a bad idea in the long run.

  3. Whenever possible, build up enough savings to pay for 6 to 12 months worth of expenses before quitting your job. 

  4. Unless your supervisor is too busy, always try to deliver your two-week notice in person. Your employers don’t have to know why you’re leaving, but you should strive to answer their questions politely and part with them on good terms.

  5. When explaining why you left your old position during job interviews, be honest with hiring managers and give answers that let you talk about your skills, strengths, future goals, and ability to help the new company prosper.

Share this article