Should You Quit Your Job Without a Back-Up Plan?

A worker who quit his job

A worker who quit his job | Source: iStock

Sometimes a job gets so unbearable that you have thoughts of suddenly leaving and never coming back. But is that a wise choice if you don’t have another job lined up?

One brave soul who decided to strike out on his own is Luke Fitzpatrick, founder of startup consulting agency Ghacklabs. However, Fitzpatrick told The Cheat Sheet he doesn’t recommend making a move without some type of safety net. “I quit my job and launched a startup consulting agency. I would advise others not to quit their day job straight away until they have already created a second source of income. With Ghacklabs, my demands increased organically (via word-of-mouth) and this occurred before I even had a website. It made sense to quit my job, and work on this full-time,” said Fitzpatrick. But what if you’re truly miserable? The Cheat Sheet spoke with a few career experts to get their take on the matter.

When to quit right away

If your career is in jeopardy, you may want to think about leaving sooner rather than later. Bill Fish, founder and president of, said it’s only a good idea to jump ship without a solid plan if staying with your current employer would harm your career. Other than that, he suggests staying until a better plan is in place. “The only time you should ever quit without a backup plan is if something is taking place at the office that could cause negative repercussions with your future career. If you find out that your business is conducting in something unethical that could come back to be associated with you, it is in your best interest to get out right away. Your career should never be jeopardized by a job,” said Fish.

When you do decide to cut ties, make sure to do it with grace. Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, said it’s important to exit respectfully and with relationships intact. “Never quit a job through a very public, and perhaps, grand gesture. When an employee quits with a dramatic flourish, it is due to one of three reasons: Anger, frustration including burnout, or psychological distress. All are legitimate reasons to seek a “divorce” but the fallout may be far worse than the gesture. We live and work in a world where technology offers immediate access to information. When you quit impulsively and publicly it will always be there to haunt you … What you say now will have an afterlife that could easily be accessed by future employers and recruiters,” said Cohen.

When to stay

In some situations, you’re better off remaining with your employer until you get your next gig. Cohen advises against making a quick decision that you may regret later on. “Don’t make an impulsive decision you may regret. If there is some way — any way — to neutralize the situation, by all means try to do so. If not, don’t quit unless you have no other option and the situation is utterly unbearable. Better to be fired and receive unemployment benefits and worry about explaining why the separation occurred later. That is a bridge you cross at the right time,” said Cohen.

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