If you’re thinking about quitting your job, you’re (very!) wise to consider your timing— because when you quit may be as important as why you choose to move on.
The job market is strong, so you don’t have to settle for an unhealthy corporate culture or a subpar leader—and you can find terrific opportunities for faster career growth or greater achievement beyond your current gig.
But you’ll want to choose the best time to resign based on a number of factors. When you’re intentional about orchestrating your departure, you’ll be sure to maintain your credibility, integrity and relationships—and avoid burning any bridges.
Great timing will also help ensure you can make a productive jump to your next role with your financial and emotional health intact.
A Good Time for…Caution
It’s a great time to capture opportunity—because there is so much available. According to data from Employ Inc., the job market is tight and 81% of hiring leaders say they are having difficulty filling roles. In addition, when people leave, they are having good experiences finding other jobs, with 70% reporting Revelio Labs that they found a new job within three months.
But with so much on the horizon, you’ll also want to be careful not to jump too fast or to the wrong opportunity—ensuring that you’re taking steps to avoid a decision you may regret.
In fact, among those who had left their jobs, fully 72% regretted making the change according to a poll by Monster . In addition, people tend to be disappointed in their new job compared to their expectations—72% of people, based on data from The Muse.
Timing things well can help you find what’s best and transition effectively to your next role.
So, while the conditions may be exactly right for you to resign, here’s when the time is right as well.
When You’re Calm
One of the first considerations in quitting is to ensure you’re calm when you make the decision and when you give your notice. If you’re triggered, angry or in the heat of a difficult moment, you likely won’t be at your best.
When something sets you off, your brain has switched to fight-or-flight mode and your amygdala has taken over. Called an “amygdala hijack,” this is when your brain goes into automatic response, and it overshadows more rational, logical processing. You literally may not be able to think straight—and you may regret decisions you make in this state as a result.
If something happens which is upsetting, unacceptable or the last straw in a bad work experience, you may still choose to quit—ultimately—just be sure you do it when you’ve had a chance to get back in control. Take deep breaths, talk to a trusted friend and sleep on the decision you’re choosing to make—so you’re taking action based on logical reflection, rather than based on a purely emotional reaction.
When It’s the Right Time of Year
People regularly ask, “When is the best time of the year to resign?” Statistically, January and February are the months with the greatest number of job openings—and also the largest number of people applying for them. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as hiring companies such Indeed and Monster.
As a result, you may be best-served if you quit your job in time to take advantage of the beginning-of-the-year activity.
If you’re planning to quit, you should also do your homework about where your next job is most likely to be. Look for opportunities where the job market is trending, considering which sectors have the most jobs open and which are experiencing the fastest growth.
For example, the areas with the strongest job expansion now are: technology, healthcare, management, marketing and law., according to resumegenius.
When It’s the Right Time For Your Profession
You should also consider when the time is right for your profession. This is especially true for areas which are more cyclical. For example, if you’re looking for a new job in finance or accounting, you’ll want to consider tax season. Chances are hiring will be heavier prior to the period and will drop off while people in the field are in the thick of their busiest time of the year.
You’ll also want to consider the unique needs of your team. Avoid quitting at a time that will leave your colleagues or your company in the lurch. If you have a giant trade show every June, avoid quitting just when things are at their most hectic leading up to the show. If you want to avoid the chaos, leave with enough runway that your departure doesn’t cause problems for others—or consider leaving after it’s complete.
When you depart at a time that is right for both you and your company, people will appreciate your integrity and your professionalism. You’ll enhance your credibility and ensure you maintain relationships.
When the Time Is Right for Action
A common question about quitting is, “What day of the week or time of day should you resign?” You’re smart to resign when you can take proactive steps toward your next opportunity—so it’s usually best to leave a job at the beginning of the week and earlier in the day. This gives you more of the week—and the day—to update people on your job status, exchange goodbye messages and move forward in your job search. All of this is more empowering than leaving on a Friday and being stymied until Monday.
Leaving earlier in the week and the day is also generally easier emotionally—so you’re not slogging through a day knowing you’re planning to quit. It’s also typically easier on others—so after they receive your news, they’re not questioning your authenticity or motives prior to your announcement.
Also avoid leaving just before a holiday. Often, organizations reduce their hiring activity during holiday seasons—so if you quit at this time, you may struggle to get traction and be frustrated by having to wait for responses or progress.
When You Can Communicate Effectively
Also be sure to quit when you can communicate your decision with grace and professionalism. Find a time when you can let your boss know live—either face to face or on a video call. And when it’s possible, resign when you can share the news with your colleagues in a constructive way.
When you’re appropriately open about your decision, you’ll ensure you leave on good terms, keeping relationships on solid ground.
And of course, give adequate notice. Two weeks is still the rule of thumb, but you may prefer to give more notice if you know your team will especially struggle without you and if you’re willing to provide that support before you go.
In addition, your timing will be affected if you’re leaving for a competitor. In that case, it’s wise to be thoroughly prepared for your exit, because you’re likely to have your access turned off immediately.
When You’re Ready Personally
Also consider your best timing based on what else you have lined up. One of the most common questions about quitting is, “Do you have a new job lined up?” and “When should your next job start?” It’s best when you have your next job ready to go because it helps you ensure you won’t have an interruption in your career path, nor your income.
Ideal timing would have you giving your two-week notice and then starting your next job right after that. This helps ensure you have insurance coverage from one employer to the next without a lapse in between.
If you choose to leave a job without having another in the works, be sure to plan for the financial implications—ensuring you have a cushion which will allow you time to find your next job. You can also take specific actions to accelerate the job search, such as networking, applying for jobs which are a good match, being responsive and being clear about your requirements for a new job.
On a related note, be sure you’ve prepared your contacts—proactively reaching out and reconnecting with people who will help you after your announcement, giving you leads and supporting you.
And ensure your social media footprint is positive. Be present on social channels. Share, like and support posts which reinforce your professional brand.
When You’ve Considered All the Angles
As important as when to quit a job, is whether to leave in the first place. The best timing is after you’ve carefully considered all the angles and you’re sure it’s the right decision. Give thought to whether your frustrations are with the organization as a whole, their mission or their culture—the more significant the source of your dissatisfaction, the more likely a change is necessary.
Also consider the leadership or your organization, since 57% of people leave their company because of their boss, according to a poll by DDI. Do you have overall respect for the leadership of the organization and your particular leader is an anomaly? In this case, you might want to stick it out and grow within the organization, seeking leadership through mentors and your next role.
Reflect on your team relationships as well—since having a best friend at work is still the primary factor which keeps people at their current company, according to Gallup. Will you miss friends and colleagues who make your work experience more rewarding—or not so much?
You’ll also want to reflect on whether the issue is long term, or if it is something that will work itself out in the short term. For example, if it’s a rocky product launch which will be over soon—within an overall constructive organization—it might be worth it to stay.
Also consider whether you’re running toward or away from something. If you’re focused primarily on removing yourself, you may not find happiness in your next role either. You’ll gain more if you’re inspired by a vision of what could be and by your goals for what you want in another role—and energized by all that’s possible for you in the future.
The Time is Now
Ultimately, it’s a great time to succeed wherever you are. Remind yourself of all you’ve been through, of your capability, your competence and your confidence.
Shore up the support you get from others and the support you give yourself and you can’t go wrong in reaching for the next step in your success.