Platinum Unplugged #8: Quitting Your Job? Read This First!

“Don’t quit a job until you’ve found another one”.

You’ve heard it a million times, right? I’m not going to preach that you should live by this rule. There are valid reasons for taking time off. Heck, most of us could use it. Compared to some of our international friends and colleagues we don’t take nearly enough time for ourselves.

What I do want to do is help you make a more informed decision. I’m going beyond theory and opinion. This is real-life information and feedback we receive. We’ve seen a record number of people quit jobs in the last year. Most have been surprised at the resistance to their candidacy and the length of time it’s taken to find their next job. Perfect topic for Platinum Unplugged, right? Bringing helpful information to the people!

Here are the 4 most common responses:

  1. Your decision-making is questioned.
  2. Will you do this to them?
  3. Will you quit when the going gets tough?
  4. Is there more to the story?

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Plenty of you, right at this moment, are thinking “who cares what they think, I have good reasons. I can afford it”. Maybe true. But that’s not all that matters. I’ll toss in another cliché:

“Perception is Reality”

Think beyond what your own opinion is on this topic. You need to consider the perception and understand the risks.

Notice a trend in these 4 responses? The feedback is all about question and doubt. It’s not definitive. That’s all it takes for a company to select one good candidate over another. They don’t have to know you would quit on them. Uncertainty can be enough to miss on an opportunity.

This is not about a company saying they prefer to hire someone that’s currently employed. The feedback and reaction we get is about the decision to quit and how it would impact their company, the hiring manager and the team if you quit on them.

Some of you are now thinking “if that’s their stance, I wouldn’t want to work for that company anyway”. No company has this as policy. It’s purely case by case and depends on who is reviewing the resume. What company would you love to work for? Odds are there are hiring managers at that company that will have concerns about a candidate that has quit a job before finding their next position.

Think you’re in the clear because you landed an interview? Not so much. Most people we present to clients, even if they’ve quit their job, will get an interview. That’s just the first hurdle. When a company has a few good people to choose from, everything is scrutinized. One has an MBA, the other doesn’t. One has Big 4 public accounting, the other has regional firm experience. One quit a job, the other didn’t. Maybe it sways the decision, maybe it doesn’t. But it will absolutely be discussed.

Lastly, will you be able to get “a” job if you quit? Of course. Will it be as soon as you want? It often isn’t, based on our experience. Will it be “the” job you want? The one that keeps or gets you on the career path you’re most interested in? Possibly. Possibly not.

It’s up to you. I hope this helps you make an informed decision should you be thinking about resigning without another job. Step back from the ledge, at least for a moment, and consider the 4 most common responses we get.

What is your opinion?

4 Replies to “Platinum Unplugged #8: Quitting Your Job? Read This First!“

  1. I agree 200%…if that’s possible. You’re basically asking the hiring manager to determine if there is something wrong with your former company or something wrong with you. If I have five qualified candidates, four of which did not cite issues with their previous employers, which candidate am I going to cut first?

    My advice, suck it up and try HARDER for your current employer if you’re looking to leave. It isn’t ideal or easy, but I’ve been there. It will say MUCH about you as an employee and the results will be beneficial to you, your current employer and your future employer.

    Great article and topic. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it! There are definitely exceptions but thought it would be helpful for others to hear what we hear.

  2. To the extent that perception is reality ( a sentiment I largely agree with), I’m sure you’re right. After all, you get the feedback that you get whether it makes sense or not.

    But for all the hiring managers out there who may be thinking this way, I’d like to point out that half of the items on the list have nothing whatsoever to do with whether the exiting employee is leaving for a new job or simply leaving.

    2. Will they do this to you? Do what? Leave? Or leave without having another job? As a manager, I can tell you that I get no benefit from my ex-employees being employed somewhere else. It doesn’t matter to me whether they left for another job or not. They’re gone and I have to deal with that reality no matter what their next steps might be. And I should be good and prepared to deal with that reality regardless. Bureau of Labor Statistics has average tenure at 4.2 years in 2016. Are they going to leave? Yes. Of course they are. The days of 40 years served and a pension to follow are long gone. The only question is around circumstances (which is why #1 and #4 *are* relevant.)

    3. Will they quit when the going gets tough? This is a fair question to be concerned with – just not in the context of whether your candidate is still employed. Why? Because unless you are busily trying to sweet talk an otherwise happy (i.e. not on the job market) competitor’s employee into leaving them to join you, your candidate has either quit or is *planning* on quitting. And either story can be told a number of ways. Your unemployed candidate could be a hair-triggered hothead that can’t think ahead or a principled employee who openly and honestly dealt with a problem rather than hiding it. Your employed candidate could be a measured and thoughtful employee or a weasel who tells his current employer that everything’s fine while he phones it in and conducts his search on the employer’s dime. And for the record, if you *were* sweet talking a happy employee away from their current employer, you still have to worry about the same thing happening to you down the road. Just not a helpful way of thinking.

    Those are my $.02 as an HR leader and (here’s my my bias!) a guy who left his last job before finding the next.

    1. Hi Brad,
      First and foremost, thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment! There are plenty of good/valid reasons to resign without having another job. That said, these responses are common enough that it’s important for people to at least consider them if thinking about resigning without another job. Right, wrong or indifferent.

      You make a good point, everybody is going to leave at some point. However, there is a perception or concern that someone who has resigned without another job presents a higher risk of leaving sooner. So I think hiring managers assume people will leave for another job at some point. That’s a given. Someone that might resign without another job adds another reason someone might leave beyond the given that they will eventually leave for another job. Along the same lines as someone that has been employed for 6 months and is interviewing again. Hiring managers will be more concerned with that candidate than someone that has been in current position for 5 years.

      This often isn’t about not getting considered at all. It often becomes more of a factor when narrowing down a list of good candidates or choosing between 2 or 3 really good options.

      There are always exceptions. When I started writing over a year ago I attempted to cover every exception in my blogs. I quickly learned that wasn’t a good approach in a blog setting.

      Thanks again for the comments and feedback, I really appreciate it. I welcome any additional thoughts you have on the topic!

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