I recently did something that I have never done before. I quit my job, and I did it without a new job lined up.
Here is why I decided to make the jump:
- I felt stuck in my current role—like I wasn’t increasing my skillset and was doing things that were antithetical to my improvement as a person.
- There was no opportunity for growth left. It was a small business, and my boss was the CEO.
- The job market was high demand, low supply.
- I had enough money saved to where I felt comfortable in having some time off if truly needed.
- I was encouraged by a number of colleagues who had recently left and got other positions.
- I felt that, given my push for transparency at my current role, I could be open and honest with my current job about my intentions.
That last one is a big one. I told my boss that I wasn’t happy in September of 2021, and we put together a plan to backfill my role and cover a relatively busy schedule of client work. I would leave in early 2022. This is not always the case, and many workplaces are vindictive to employees considering leaving their jobs.
The experience of finding a job
What I learned, especially once I had officially left my past role, is that finding a job is harder than actually working a job. There is a lot of prep work involved, a lot of time management, and plenty of wasted time and rejection to emotionally overcome.
Much of my time looking for a new job overlapped with my prior job, but I spent nearly four months looking, applying, interviewing, negotiating, and managing in this process. I also had to find extra time to research concepts for the jobs in which I was interviewing, where there were gaps in knowledge.
The biggest gaps to hiring were unrealistic expectations from the hiring team and long, extended hiring processes. In one experience, I interviewed six(!) times for a role and then waited over two weeks to learn that I didn’t get the job, with no feedback as to why I didn’t get the job provided. Hint: it was money, and salary was the first thing discussed, two months prior to the rejection. In another role, I reached for a loftier role than I should have and lowered my salary ask by well below any reasonable expectation to cover for it. Their feedback, after deliberating for over a week, is that I was too expensive. Go figure.
At final count, I applied for over 200 jobs, and was rejected in about 30 interview opportunities, which all included at least one call past screening. When I finally got a job offer, about two weeks after leaving my role, I was so exhausted that I barely reacted to the phone call, which alarmed the person on the other side of the line! I was excited internally, but I felt like I had just ended a battle for my life that had no clear end in sight.
What went well
- The support of my current team was amazing. Everyone knew, and everyone was supportive of my decision and my next path. I was able to use them as a reference when needed.
- The threat of not finding a job inspired me to pursue some certifications and professional development that I had skipped for a couple of years.
- I really liked the spreadsheet and documents I created for tracking my daily work in finding a new role. It allowed me to easily reference past conversations and next steps, while taking multiple interviews a day.
- I really liked Indeed for finding work as well as Glassdoor for looking at or leaving reviews about interviewing for jobs and staying away from bad jobs.
What needs to improve
- Working with recruiters was awful. Any role found through a recruiter was a profound waste of my time, from role mismatches to getting “feedback” on why I didn’t get a role.
- Even with the buffer time and savings, I did not like the experience of having no income and looking for a new job. In retrospect, I would much rather look for work while still employed at a current role, moving forward.
- ZipRecruiter was a terrible and spammy service that provided no value whatsoever. I recommend staying away.
- Most interview opportunities were focused on meaningless certifications that I had. I was told that I was considered for jobs strictly because I had certifications that took me one weekend to complete, four years ago. I guess they want people who would bother to certifications in the first place, over actual field experience.
- Don’t quit your job if you can line up a new one without looking or are very confident in your finances and fit. Even with stability, I wouldn’t do this again.
- Follow your gut when looking for work and cut off opportunities as soon as they feel like bad fits. The initial screening call is actually a great indicator of how things are going to go at the company and with your interviews.
- Compare salaries for similar positions in Colorado (where they have to post salary) and keep applying for jobs with slightly different salary asks to understand your value. I kept exploring until I found my value, which was $20,000 more than I expected.
- Don’t give up! I am a white guy, and it took me a third of a year to find something in a strong employee market. Stick to it, and you will land!
- Any team that needs more than three hours of interviews to understand your fit is not a good fit for you.