October 15, 2012 By Susan

Unless your life is in danger or doing your job requires you to do something illegal, don’t quit your current job until you have a new job!  I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it is reality.

Why not quit?

Until you have another job lined up, quitting is not a good idea.  Ever heard the saying, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire”? That’s what quitting your old job before you have a new job often is for most people.

5 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job YET

1.  No more paychecks. Until you land a new job and work a week or two, sometimes longer, it will be a while until that next payday.

2.  No guarantees on the length of your job search.  You have no guarantee that you’ll land a new job quickly.  It could be several weeks or months before you get that new job.

3.  Explanation required. Looking for a new job, you will need to explain to everyone who interviews you why you left your job.

4.  Tougher job search. You are more attractive to a new employer if you are currently employed.

5.  No unemployment benefits.  You usually won’t qualify for unemployment benefits if you have resigned.

All good reasons not to resign, yet.  But that doesn’t mean you are permanently stuck in a job you hate.

5 Things to Do Instead of Quitting Now

Get ready to leave.  Don’t obviously pack your bags and head for the door, but lay the groundwork for your departure.

1.  Establish non-work contact information for your job search.

You need separate contact information for your job search, if you don’t already have it. Hopefully, this contact information will serve you for many years (and several jobs).  It should be independent of where you work or live, so when/if either of those change, you don’t lose track of your network and they don’t lose track of you.

Looking for a new job from your current place of work is often a very big mistake.  Employers don’t want you looking for a new job on their time (when they want you to be focused on doing your current job).  They also tend not to trust employees who are job hunting.  So, using your work email, phone number, and cell phone for your job search could cost you your job.

Right now, I’d recommend setting up a Gmail.com email account, and purchasing your own cell phone.  Update your LinkedIn Profile with your new contact information so you can always access your LinkedIn account and so that people can reach you on LinkedIn without going through your employer.

2.  Ramp up your visibility on LinkedIn.

Don’t go from 0 to 110 MPG in one week – or even in one month – that’s a dead give away to your plans for departing.  Assume your employer is paying attention, so be active in ways that will help your with your job, if possible, as well as your job search.

  • ALWAYS be positive about your employer and your current job! (and your former jobs!)
  • Make sure your Profile is 100% complete with a nice head shot photo that is recognizably you.
  • Make your Profile public.
  • Use the Summary section to describe what you do – your accomplishments and achievements, not just a list of “responsible for” items.
  • Add connections appropriate for your current job.
  • Add recommendations (give and get).
  • Join Groups appropriate for your current (and, hopefully, future) job.

To protect your current job, don’t announce your job search to the entire LinkedIn community or have “seeking a position as…” in your LinkedIn Professional Headline.

3.  Figure out what you want to do next.

Leaping blindly from job to job can work out fine, or, more often, can be a disaster (just ask me, I’ve done it).  It’s much better to have a goal in mind that is more well-considered than simply receiving a paycheck.

Since my Big Mistake, whenever I’ve been at a career crossroads, I read the latest edition of What Color Is Your Parachute? by Dick Bolles.  It always helps me, and it has helped millions of other people.  If your library has only one career book, this one is it.

As you figure out what you want to do, adjust your LinkedIn Profile appropriately to emphasize your accomplishments, education, etc. that support that goal.

4.  Select target employers.

Once you  have figured out what you want to do next, start considering where you want to work next.  Develop some criteria: size, industry, location, reputation, age – whatever is important to you.  This doesn’t have to be a big list or even a permanent list, but you need to have some employers in mind, learning as much as you can about them. And keep looking for more to add.

As you develop your list of target employers, research them on LinkedIn:

  • Any employees of those organizations in your Connections?
  • Is there a Company Profile?  It will tell you more about them: who works there now and who worked there in the past.
  • What LinkedIn Groups do those employees typically belong to?
  • Are there any recruiters for those employers who are on LinkedIn (bet there are!).

When you find an employer you like, check to see if companies which compete with them would also be good places for you to work.  If you find one or two (or more) that look promising, add them to your list.

5.  Increase your visibility with your target employers.

You may be able to do this by attending local meetings of relevant groups – Chambers of Commerce are a great place to meet small business owners, industry expos are excellent “hunting grounds” for job seekers, as are almost any professional organization.

  • Go to meetings and make a point of introducing yourself to at least 2 or 3 people there.
  • Volunteer to help at meetings.  I love sitting at the check-in desk where people pick up their name tags.  I meet almost everyone attending that way.
  • Volunteer to work on a committee.  If your field is marketing and you love animals, volunteer to help your local animal shelter with their marketing – social media, press releases, etc. Demonstrate you know what you are doing!

And – of course! – become more active and visible on LinkedIn!

  • Join LinkedIn Groups (like those the employees of your target employers belong to!), and participate carefully.
  • Participate in Answers.  Ask intelligent questions, and answer those you can answer thoughtfully.
  • Promote your employer’s business carefully in the right Groups and the right way (updates about the latest public successes).

Bottom Line

Yes, you may still need to work at a job you don’t want for a while longer.  But, it’s better for your bank account and your resume to move smoothly from one job to another if you can.  Yes, the logistics of looking for a job while you are still employed can be more complicated, but the payoff is real and long-term.