Quitting Your Job During the Pandemic? Consider This.

Contemplating quitting your job? It’s a big decision with ramifications in multiple facets of life. In ordinary times, you would (1) assess whether quitting your job aligned with your overall goals; (2) then consider your resources (financial and emotional) to make this decision; and (3) decide if this is the best time for this move. Given today’s global pandemic, there are many more factors to weigh before deciding. Let’s focus on timing.

This is not just an unprecedented job market; this is unchartered water for nearly all aspects of society – business, government, healthcare and even religion. Overall I would not advise anyone to leave their current position given these uncertainties. No one is sure how long our current situation will last – or what new normal awaits as we “reopen.” However, if your current job is putting you, your family or others at unacceptable risk, you have a powerful reason to leave. Most future employers will understand a medical or family necessity.

Quitting Your Job Now Puts You at Risk

These three issues must remain top of mind while you weigh your options.

1) Sustained unemployment.

Companies in many industries are reducing staff and postponing hiring. Some are predicting 20% – 30% unemployment levels later this year in the US. Even when hiring picks up, the market might be saturated with highly qualified candidates. If you want to leave without securing a new job, think about how much savings you will need to sustain yourself during a long span of unemployment.

2) Losing valuable career experience.

Some career fields may be forever changed due to the immediate innovations and adaptations organizations are making to sustain operations. The skills and experience you might gain if you keep working may be essential to your future. (Example: Think of educators learning to adapt curriculum to virtual/online classes – which may become more standard after the pandemic.)

3) Being stigmatized as abandoning the mission.

Are you in a role or field in which quitting your job during a global crisis could be viewed as a lack of expected loyalty or commitment? This factor shouldn’t be ignored.

What to Consider If You Have a New Job Offer

Leaving one role after a new one has been secured is the ideal situation for any job seeker. While that provides more security for you, keep these two points in mind consider the current economic situation:

(1) An employer could be acting in good faith by hiring you today, but might be forced to lay you off in the very near future.

Organizations in every industry are dealing with the unknown. Not even a job contract is full protection if your new employer goes out of business. So if you are leaving to accept another offer, be sure to get your compensation, benefits and start date in writing. Understand the stability and financial strength of the company and the industry and their ability to weather a recession.

(2) Consider the physical and emotional cost of starting a new job right now.

Know yourself. Will learning a new role and (virtually) meeting new people motivate you or will it drain you? Connection and self-care are important during these times, so consider the relationships you have in your current role and in your personal life. Loneliness can have a significant impact on your mental health, so be sure to stay connected through any transitions.

Things are changing rapidly – from day to day, and week to week. Can you safely put this decision off until you have more facts and a better vision of what’s ahead? Change also creates opportunity. Waiting to quit your job until our country and world has gained more clarity on how businesses will emerge after the pandemic could bring better opportunities for you a few months down the road. Decide the level of risk you’re willing to take, and what can be done to sustain you in your current role until we get to the other side of the pandemic.

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