When quitting is a smart move
Leaving your job can be one of the toughest career decisions you'll ever need to make. After all, it's not easy to get hired in the first place and walking away from a steady job is a big risk. Despite the uncertainty, quitting can actually be a great career move -- even if it doesn't feel like it. "Realize that there will never be a right time to quit," says Eugene Farber, who left an accounting career to pursue his own Internet marketing company. Each month that you stay at your job it can be tempting to make excuses, he adds. Many career switchers say quitting their job has enabled them to start a career that's truly enjoyable.
Ready to take the plunge? Here's what to consider as you say goodbye to your job:
Have a safety net
If you're not making the leap to another employer, it's important to save as much money as possible before leaving your job. Have enough saved to for at least six months of living expenses, says Tina Su, a blogger who previously worked as a software engineer and, before quitting, saved up enough money to live jobless for two years. Having a safety net takes the pressure off from pursuing revenue streams that may not fit your career goals.
Do your research
No matter what you're looking to do next, it's important to be as knowledge as possible about your new career. "Be prepared, read as much as you can about the field you want to go into, as well as talk to as many people possible about the best way to enter the new career," says Dan McLaughlin, who quit his job as a professional photographer to pursue a professional golfing career.
Expect an abrupt transition
With so many people stuck in mediocre jobs, making a sudden decision to leave is common. Quitting abruptly is tough but is often the only way for some people to actually switch careers.
"Some jobs just hold you back," Farber says. "Yes, you may be working only nine to five, but the emotional and psychological toll it has on you can prevent any progress on your own time."
If you must quit a job abruptly, don't worry. Even if you don't find exactly what you want to do, try taking an internship or support yourself with part-time work until finding the right fit.
Test it out
If you do have time before leaving your job, it can help to test out your new career path. Farber says he took a week off from his accounting firm just to see what it was like to work from home. I needed to see "if I can actually be productive in that kind of setting," he explains. "It's important to see if you can actually work on your own
without a boss lurking over your shoulder before you get rid of the boss."
Set clear goals
Just walking away from a full-time job doesn't solve a problem. Instead, it's important to be clear on what your career goals are and how you can achieve them by leaving your job. Before leaving do as much research as possible -- talk to others in your desired field, read industry news and look around for job opportunities.
Be ready for challenges
Even if quitting is a smart move, it doesn't mean it's an easy one, says Lauren Zettler, a musician who left her desk job at Universal Music Group to pursue her own music career.
"If you are quitting to work for yourself and pursue a personal passion, you are going to have to work a thousand times harder, with less support and encouragement," she says. You must also be ready to explain your goals to others and hear objections.
Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.
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