Quit your job
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How to quit your job with no backup plan

31 Mar 2017

Have you ever wanted to quit your job before you could get another one lined up? You don’t always have to wait for your next opportunity.

It is not advisable to quit one job without another one to go to, not to mention that it’s financially easier to have your next source of income mapped out.

But in a career lifetime of 40-50 years, you’re likely to come across a situation when it’s time to leave a job without waiting around for opportunity to come knocking.

When that happens, it’s important to know that you’re not trapped. If you want to ease the problems that come with quitting without a plan B, we have some tips for you.

Know why you want to quit your job

When you’re staring into the abyss of job unhappiness, you have to look at why you actually want to leave. Don’t allow yourself to be vague on this point.

You need to make sure you’re not just going through a bad patch that may end. Isolate each reason and make sure you really want to quit your job.

Quitting without another position lined up isn’t stupid or weak, but it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Crunch the numbers

Once you’ve decided that you want to quit, you need to have your financials in order. Even if you’re lucky enough to only be out of work for a month, you need to know what you’re going to do when you don’t have a pay cheque.

Do you have savings that you can tap into? Can your partner’s income support you both? For how long? Do you have any big expenses coming up?

If you can stick it out a while longer, plan and decide how much you need to save to pay your emergency bills such as your mortgage, your heating, groceries etc. Put enough by for three to six months if you can before you quit.

Think about the worst-case scenario

When you’ve decided how you’re going to survive without your pay cheque for however many months, think long and hard about the worst-case scenario. What if you still don’t have a job after your emergency fund runs out?

Compare this situation with sticking it out in your job until another one comes along. If you’re still happy that you’ll get through it, and that it’s still better than staying put, you should be OK.

Have a vague plan B

Just because you don’t have a job lined up, doesn’t mean you can’t have an idea of what you might do next.

When you decide you’re going to leave, make a plan for what you’ll do while you’re on the job hunt. Are you going to take a course and upskill? Take some time to volunteer?

Have an idea of what you really want to do. If it’s not this job, then maybe a similar one with a better culture? Or do you want to move into a new field? Having a vague plan B will prevent you from going into panic mode and wondering, ‘What next?’.

Make your remaining time easier

While you’re making your financial plans and deciding what to do once you quit your job, you should take steps to make your current role easier on yourself.

Go back to what makes you unhappy and find little ways to remedy this on a daily basis. For a start, it will reduce your stress and risk of burnout while you’re stuck there planning your escape.

But more importantly, it will give you that final chance to make sure it’s what you really want to do, before you hand in your notice. Once you’ve made it easier out of necessity, could you stick it out until you find a new job?

Once you do quit, keep the following in mind:

Create a structure

If you’ve decided to leave, it’s time to create a daily structure. Don’t spend longer in a day searching for a job than you would spend working. Becoming a job search addict will take its toll on you.

Use your support system

Your friends and family will be your support system while you go through this turbulent time. Even if you plan for it as best you can, it can still be tough. Spend quality time with your closest people and lean on them when you need to.

Say yes to freelancing

Giving up your job may give you the chance to say yes to more opportunities. Don’t be afraid of them. While you’re considering a new full-time job, you should also look into freelance, temporary and contract work.

Set up meetings

Meeting your friends for coffee is important but you should also look for networking opportunities to meet new people in the industry.


Use your time off to upskill and gain new qualifications. Worried about explaining a gap in your CV? Filling your time with education, courses or volunteering opportunities will mean it won’t look like a gap at all. All the while, you will be making yourself more employable for the next venture.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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