The best time to quit your job?
I was doing a radio interview recently about how people can go about finding a new job in 2013. I think in reference to my article Six signs that you're in the wrong job, the host asked me when was the best time for someone to quit their job. I said, "When you've already lined up your next one." This earned a polite chuckle, as the host (generously) assumed I was attempting at humour.
(Okay, in the story I tell in Six Signs, I didn't actually wait until I had my next gig secured before leaving that job, but I would have been wiser to. I explain why in a piece called Two reasons not to quit your job.)
But I was being serious.
Sometimes you really have to leave your job. If you're not making enough money to survive, your company is doomed, or your work life is making you so miserable that you dread getting out of bed in the morning, it's time to move on. But it's safer and smarter to find a new job before quitting your current one.
You'll have a better chance being hired while you're working, as some employers view candidates with jobs as being more valuable than unemployed job seekers. Also, you'll be in a position to make a smarter move. If you're currently in a job that you don't like, you'll be motivated to seek out new opportunities, but you'll also still have a paycheque coming in. Once you've quit your job, the financial pressures can force you to take anything that comes along, rather than making a strategic move.
There's no point in leaving one dead-end situation for another. So hanging on to the job that you want to leave long enough to replace it gives you the luxury of choice. It also puts you in a better negotiating position with future employers. They know it can cost more to woo a currently employed worker away from another company than they might have to offer someone who is unemployed.
Just don't fall into the trap. Looking for jobs is sometimes a drag. Not hearing back from applications, or being turned down after interviews can take their toll on your confidence. The trap is to give up and to stay in the unhealthy or unhappy situation too long just because of the safety of that paycheque.
I'm reminded of a guy I worked with while I was in university. It was in Quebec's Eastern Townships and work was scarce. I took a full-time job on an assembly line in a glove factory overnight (while attending class by day.) This was incredibly dull, routine, monotonous work. The guy on the line next to me could see that I was a little dismayed at the boredom of these eight hour shifts. To offer some encouragement, he said, "Don't worry. I've been here twelve years, and they pass by fast."
I said, "But that's your life that's passing fast."
That's the trap. Just getting through the long dull shifts unfulfilled, while watching the years fly by.
This morning's Statistics Canada job vacancy report says that competition for jobs is dropping: there are five unemployed people for every job vacancy, down from 5.3 one year ago. The national unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years, and one third of Canadian employers told Workopolis that they plan to grow their workforce in 2013.
So it's looking like making a successful career move may be getting easier. Your career is too important to your quality of life to choose passivity over passion. So if you're not in a job that you can feel proud of, where you can grow and expand your skills, and be appreciated for your contributions, it's time to start looking.
Just hang on to your current position while you do.
Category: Life @ work