Mark this in the category of things you don’t expect: In February, more employees quit their jobs than were laid off. It’s the first time that has happened since October 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Part of the reason, of course, is that layoffs are declining as the economy struggles back from the recession, and many workers may be finding more job prospects. Presumably, some would have quit earlier if they could, so some pent up wanderlust is being released as the job market loosens up.
Finally, many people who kept their jobs through the recession may be pretty unhappy about the belt-tightening their employers put them through. Loyalty may be one of the casualties of the financial crisis.
So, let’s say you’re among the disgusted, the disappointed, the restless and the ambitious, and you’d like to quit. There are a few things to keep in mind.
Quitting without having a new job lined up is hazardous in the best of times, but it can be career suicide in times like these. Prospective employers may wonder what kind of fool voluntarily opts for unemployment, especially as there’s no unemployment compensation for those who leave jobs voluntarily.
Of course, jobs are still scarce and there’s an overabundance of candidates competing against you. Even if you do find a new job, it’s tougher to negotiate good salary and benefits from a position of weakness. The prospective employer may well assume you’re desperate for a job, and in a few months you might be.
If you take the prudent path and line up a new job before you resign, be certain the new job really resolves the problems of the old one. You may have had a lousy boss and like the new one, but how long will you have the new one? Are you certain you won’t end up with another tyrant, or that the old one would not have moved on, anyway, making the move unnecessary?