Hate Your Job? 5 Things to Do Before You Quit

Female business secretary with his angry boss with documents in the back.
Female business secretary with his angry boss with documents in the back.

Yes, finding a new job while still employed definitely offers some challenges -- dressing appropriately for the interview without looking out-of-place at work, fitting interviews into your schedule, networking without blowing your cover, and the rest. Not easy...

However, unless you feel that you face physical danger (from another employee or the job itself), the organization is doing something it shouldn't be doing (illegal, nasty, etc.), or doing your job requires you to do something unsafe or against your principles, the best strategy is to job hunt while you are still employed.

Then, put your bad experience to use by being much pickier about that next job and employer - which is easier to do when you are still collecting a paycheck.

3 Reasons NOT to Quit Your Job YET

Until you have another job lined up (i.e. you are holding a written job offer in your hand for a job with the right job title, the right salary, and the right starting date), quitting is NOT a good idea. Ever heard the saying, "Out of the frying pan, into the fire"? That's often the result of quitting your old job before you have a new one.

1. Tougher job search. Employers are more interested in job seekers who are currently employed. Their assumption: you are good enough at your job that someone else is willing to pay you to do it.

2. Paychecks end. Until you land a new job and work a week or two, sometimes longer, it will be a while until that next payday. Also expect that you may not land that next job for several several weeks or - possibly - several months. (As of April, 2014, more than 50% of unemployed people in the USA have been unemployed for more than 4 months.)

3. No unemployment benefits. You don't usually qualify for unemployment benefits if you have resigned.

All good reasons not to resign, yet. But you are not permanently stuck in a job you hate. Read on...

5 Things to Do Instead of Quitting Now

Get ready to leave. Don't obviously pack your bags and head for the door, but lay the groundwork for your departure.

1. Establish non-work contact information for your job search.

You need separate contact information for your job search, if you don't already have it. Hopefully, this contact information will serve you for many years (and several jobs). It should be independent of where you work or live, so when/if you move or change employers, you don't lose track of your network and they don't lose track of you.

Because employers often monitor use of their Internet and telephone networks, looking for a new job from your current place of work is often a very big mistake. Employers don't want you looking for a new job on "their" time. They want you to be focused on doing your current job. They also tend not to trust employees who are job hunting (too often with good reason, unfortunately). So, using your work email, phone number, and cell phone for your job search could cost you your job.

Right now, I'd recommend setting up a Gmail.com email account, and purchasing your own cell phone that is never used for work or connected to your employer's network in any way. A phone that becomes part of your employer's systems (even connecting to your work Wi-Fi) MAY be monitored by your employer, so keep your job search phone disconnected from all of your employer's networks.

Note: Be sure to update your LinkedIn Profile with your new email address so you can always access your LinkedIn account and also so that people can reach you using LinkedIn without going through your employer's networks.

2. Ramp up your visibility on LinkedIn.

Don't go from 0 to 110 MPG in one week - or even in one month - that's a dead give away on your plans for departing. Best to assume your employer is paying attention, so be active in ways that will help your with your job, whenever possible, as well as with your job search.

  • ALWAYS be positive about your employer and your current job! (and your former jobs!)

  • Make sure your Profile is 100 percent complete with a nice head shot photo that is recognizably you.
  • Make your Profile public.
  • Use the Summary section to describe what you do - your accomplishments and achievements, not just a list of "responsible for" items.
  • Add connections appropriate for your current job.
  • Add recommendations (give and get).
  • And -- of course! -- carefully become more active and visible in LinkedIn Groups!

    • Like the good employee you are, promote your employer's business carefully in the right Groups and the right way (updates about the latest public successes).

    To protect your current job, don't announce your job search to the entire LinkedIn community or have "seeking a position as..." in your LinkedIn Professional Headline.

    3. Figure out what you want to do next.

    Leaping blindly from job to job can work out fine, or, more often, can be a disaster (just ask me, I've done it). It's much better to have a goal in mind that is more well-considered than simply receiving a paycheck from any other employer.

    Since my Big Mistake, whenever I've been at a career crossroads, I read the latest edition (updated every year) of What Color Is Your Parachute? by Dick Bolles to help me find my focus. It always puts me on the right track, and it has helped millions of other people. If your library has only one career/job search book, this is the book.

    As you figure out what you want to do, adjust your LinkedIn Profile appropriately to emphasize your accomplishments, education, etc. that support your goal.

    4. Select target employers.

    Once you have figured out what you want to do next, start considering where you want to work next. Develop some criteria: size, industry, location, reputation, age - whatever is important to you. This doesn't have to be a big list or even a permanent list, but you need to have some employers in mind, learning as much as you can about them. And keep looking for more to add.

    • As you develop your list of target employers, research them on LinkedIn.

  • Any employees of those organizations in your Connections?
  • Is there a Company Profile? It will tell you more about them: who works there now and who worked there in the past.
  • What LinkedIn Groups do those employees typically belong to?
  • Are there any recruiters for those employers who are on LinkedIn (bet there are!).
  • When you find an employer you like, check to see if companies which compete with them would also be good places for you to work. If you find one or two (or more) that look promising, add them to your list.

    5. Increase your visibility with your target employers.

    You may be able to do this by attending local meetings of relevant groups -- Chambers of Commerce are a great place to meet small business owners, industry expos are excellent "hunting grounds" for job seekers, as are almost any professional organization.

    As with your LinkedIn activities, represent your employer very positively, but also make yourself -- and your expertise - visible.

    • Go to meetings and make a point of introducing yourself to at least 1 or 2 (or more, if possible) people.

  • Volunteer to help at meetings. I love sitting at the check-in desk where people pick up their name tags. I meet almost everyone attending that way, and it's a good way to establish contacts in other organizations.
  • Volunteer to work on a committee that is relevant to your job search or career. For example, if your field is marketing and you love animals, volunteer to help your local animal shelter with their marketing -- social media, press releases, etc. Demonstrate your expertise, add experience to your resume and new information to your LinkedIn Profile (Volunteering!), and build your professional network.
  • Demonstrate you know what you are doing!
  • Before you hand in your resignation, you might also consider taking home the most important personal items you may have at work -- the photo of your family or the pen desk set your grandmother gave you as a college graduation gift, etc. Because, sometimes, when you quit your job, you are escorted out of the building immediately, without an opportunity to pack up anything personal to take with you.

    DO NOT remove anything belonging to your employer, particularly anything they might consider confidential. That could backfire, big time, with both your former and your new employers.

    For more information, read:

    Bottom Line

    Yes, you may still need to work at a job you don't want for a while longer. But, it's better for your bank account and your resume to move smoothly from one job to another if you can. Yes, the logistics of looking for a job while you are still employed can be more complicated, but the payoff is real and long-term.

    Follow me on Google Plus for more job search tips!

    Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job-Hunt.org. This piece first appeared on WorkCoachCafe.com.