Should you quit your job without another one lined up?
This is such a common question – and even thinking about it can generate some serious fear.
I was in this situation five years ago. I had just gotten married and wanted to spend more time with my husband and friends (versus traveling for work 4 days every week). So, I quit my job and took six months off.
And I was terrified. I worried about never finding another job - or at least one I liked. I was scared when I started job searching that people would grill me on the employment gap in my resume – and that employers wouldn’t hire me because I took time off.
And guess what?
Most people didn’t even ask about it. And the ones that did thought that it was awesome – and I eventually ended up in a dream job.
What I realized is that employers are organizations composed of humans – people just like you and me, people with friends, family and interests outside of work. And they appreciate taking time to enjoy life just as much as I do.
If you were interviewing someone and they told you that they took time off to enjoy life – to bike down the South American coast or to spend time with their kids during their summer break – what would you think?
Probably that it was pretty awesome that they did something meaningful in their personal life.
Two years later, my husband and I both quit our jobs to travel and spend time with friends and family before starting our own family. And in that year, we spent a ski season in Taos, NM, road tripped through Utah’s National Parks, Iceland and Namibia – experiences that I will cherish forever. And we got to spend significant quality time with both of our families.
One big question that can came up for us was: how do we financially support our time off? And we planned ways to travel on the cheap and generate a bit of income. We rented our place out while we were gone, which helped cover expenses. And we rented a ski house in Taos – monthly rent is much cheaper than hotel nights. AirBnB provided some great options for inexpensive travel, as did staying in motels, which saved money and really solidified the road trip experience.
Five Reasons You Should Quit Your Job
Are there things you really want to do in life? Life is short, and doing the things that you aspire to do when you're young and healthy is an experience you can never replicate. Get out there and pursue what you’ve always dreamed of doing. Maybe take a painting class in Italy. Or bike through Southeast Asia. Or learn Portuguese. The perfect time is now.
Have you dreamed of watching penguins in Antarctica? Or seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland? There is so much beauty and wonder in the world – and there’s no better time than now to see it. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could purchase an around-the-world ticket and experience several places.
Focus on finding your next dream job
Have you ever heard the saying: Job searching is a full time job. It’s a truism because, well, it can be true, especially when looking for your dream job. By taking time off, you can explore your passions, figure out what you really want to do, take a class at General Assembly, meet new people, grow your network, and have fun learning about yourself.
Time with family and friends
Your people won’t be around forever. So, maximize your time with them while you can, especially if they live far away. Life is about relationships – and your friends and family are most important of all.
Because you are burned out
I wasn’t planning to quit my job after I got married, but I realized that I was burned out and needed some personal time. Once I quit, I got to spend time with my new husband, volunteer with a local non-profit, go to mid-day yoga classes and have weeknight dinners with friends. And get a puppy.
How to Get a Job After a Break
So, how do you answer the “Talk about the gap in your resume …?” question when you’ve taken time off?
It’s all about how you spin it. People love personal stories and interesting experiences – so, tell them about yours! Tell them about how you realized that it was a life dream to attend culinary school in France. Or how you realized that your daughter would never be five again, and you just had to spend this precious time with her before she started first grade.
What happens if interviewers don’t understand your time off? Well, the question to you is: do you really want to work for them anyways? Do you really want to work for someone who doesn’t value life outside of work?
Most people – and definitely the ones you want to work for – will love that you took time off to pursue something awesome in your life. And you will know that you did something amazing for yourself and your life that you will never be able to do again.