Your boss drives you crazy. Or the hours are utterly ridiculous. Or, maybe, you have the co-worker from hell, and the boss won't do anything about it. Whatever it is, you've decided that you can't take one more minute, and you quit without a new job lined up. No problem. You're a good saver, and you have a bit of cash stored up. Surely you can find a new job with no problem, right?

Well, unless your actual health is truly in danger (physical or mental), quitting without a new job lined up is a bad, bad, bad idea. Here are five reasons why.

1. Let's talk references. For most background checks when you say, "Don't contact my current employer" the recruiter will respect that. Most people don't tell their bosses they are job hunting. So, this raises no red flags. However, if you've quit your last job because your boss was a nightmare, and you say, "please don't contact," it's going to raise all sorts of red flags. Why not? And, there's no law preventing the recruiter from not contacting your former employer anywhere. Do you really want the person you hate with a burning passion (and who probably doesn't care much for you) to be your most important reference? Because your most recent job is always your most important reference.

2. Why did you quit without a new job lined up? Good answers:

 

  • I had a baby, and I wanted to stay at home for his first year.
  • My mom had cancer, so I quit to take care of her.
  • My wife got the promotion of a lifetime and it required us to move across the country.

 

Bad answers:

 

  • My boss was a jerk.
  • The last job was too stressful.
  • I wanted to take some time to find myself.

See, here's the thing-unless the person interviewing already knows your last boss is a complete jerk, they are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. The suspicion will be that you couldn't hack it or that your boss asked you to resign. Either way, you don't come across smelling like a rose. Can you overcome this? Of course, you can. Is it as easy as answering why you are looking to leave? No.

3. Money, money, money. You know what is a big bummer? No paychecks. Unless you are fabulously wealthy or still living with your parents, you need an income. I generally tell people to plan on looking for a job for one month for every $10,000 in salary you're looking for. So, if you're looking for jobs in the $60,000 range, plan on a six-month job search. Just how much savings do you have? This number can be higher or lower depending on your job skills and location but think about that.

4. So, what have you been doing since leaving your last job? "Having a Doctor Who marathon" is not the right answer. Neither is, "looking for a job." See, you don't get asked this question if you're still employed. It can be difficult to come up with something that is both true and helpful. And yes, it must be true because the world is small, and someone will know if you are lying. "Oh really? You were taking Coursera classes? Which one?" Yeah, you better be able to talk about the details of your classwork.

5. Flat out discrimination. There are some businesses that flat out reject you if you are currently unemployed. I strongly oppose this and think there are many reasons to hire the unemployed and even fired employees, but I'm not the head of recruiting at all businesses. There's often talk about making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of employment status, and your town may have such a statute on the books. Nevertheless, people discriminate against the unemployed all the time.

6. Job offers fall through all the time. Never resign your current job because you had a great interview or even a verbal offer. You don't turn in your resignation until you have a written offer, and the background check is complete. I know you've done nothing wrong in your entire life, and you've never ingested or smoked anything stronger than a Chai Latte, but mistakes happen. A company that doesn't want you to give two weeks notice to your current job is likely to be a nightmare place to work. Wait until it's a done deal.

 

 

 

Published on: Oct 26, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.