21 June 2019
You want to quit your job. Should you?
We recently met with a candidate who had very nearly reached the end of his tether: he is looking for a new job, but is seriously considering quitting his current job before finding a new one.
Leaving one job before you have another lined up can raise a number of questions with potential employers, none of which will work in your favor. You should keep in mind that, no matter how great or relevant your expertise, you can never be certain about how long a job search will take. Indeed, based on our experience, it invariably takes much longer than anticipated.
If you find yourself unemployed for a long period of time (i.e., more than a few months), employers will question your suitability. Are you the kind of person, they will wonder, who cuts and runs at the first sign of difficulty? Are you afraid of hard work? Do you have the requisite resilience and commitment? Are you prepared and willing to deal with the demands and stresses of a modern-day legal practice? Are you struggling with billings? These are examples of the assumptions that employers will typically make when they see a lawyer who has been unemployed for a long period of time.
It is worth noting that, when given a choice, employers will almost certainly opt for an employed candidate. If you are unemployed and your profile is similar to that of a competing candidate who is employed, they will almost always prefer your competitor as the “safer” choice.
But, what about . . . ?
It is true that a horrible job can negatively impact your personal life, your physical health and/or your mental well-being. Listen to your body! If it is telling you that something is seriously wrong, it may be time to explore options. If the problem is of a more temporary nature, weather the storm; if the problem is systemic and unlikely to improve, then the need for a change is more urgent. In either event, you should never act precipitously and rashly, but rather smartly and strategically and you should keep in mind that the mere decision to change jobs will already make you feel better. Proceeding calmly will allow you to leave your current job in a constructive way (never, ever burn your bridges!) and to ensure that your next move is the right one.
We understand, of course, that there may be occasions when leaving a job, even with no replacement in your pocket, is essential for your well-being. If that is the case, then by all means you should think first and foremost about yourself. Be selfish. If you wake up every morning absolutely dreading another day at the office, then you need to make a change. If your current job is having a seriously deleterious effect on you, then you can – and should! – leave it. Just be smart about doing so!
In all events, avoid any feelings of defeat. You have certainly gained experience as well as an enhanced personal awareness. That is your added value and you should continue to build on it!