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The Pros and Cons of Leaving a Position Without a New One

Paula Goodman
By Paula Goodman, Director of Recruitment / HR Client Services-CUHR at Columbia University
January 4, 2016

As always I try to write about real situations as opposed to giving abstract advice. Very recently we did hire someone into an administrative role who was open about having left her most recent job to focus all of her energy on a job hunt. 

Normally employers are very suspicious upon hearing this, assuming there was some sinister back-drop to the decision.  Why would someone leave a job without a new one to move into?  It is a valid question, but does not always mean that the person left on bad terms or is prone to discontent. 

A Real Life Example

Our individual in question said that after five years with her last employer she had slowly moved up but there was no longer any potential to progress further.  Additionally, the person to whom she reported resigned to relocate to another position outside the area.  She felt strategically  that the timing was right for her to take the risk.   She had saved up enough to be out of work for a while and was confident in her ability.  She was not, however, so naive as to think her job search would necessarily be easy.  As she had planned, she devoted herself full time to her search, seeing that as her full time job. 

Prepare to Prove Yourself

If you are contemplating doing something similar, the single most important variable is the ability to get good references from people that can back up your story at the same time they speak to your abilities. While we did have the usual trepidations, the person’s references did validate everything she had said. Additionally, the fact that she was not working made it easier for her to accommodate our last minute frenetic scheduling process that was a function of our wanting to fill the position before the end of the year.   

So if you are thinking about taking this kind of risk yourself two things are important---securing references that know you well and can corroborate your story line and knowing yourself well enough to know you can handle the normal anxiety of a job search without an income flow while you are searching.  It does take courage.


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