5 Things We Lose When Leaving a Job Without Backup

Recently updated on: September 20, 2023

Leaving our job, whether forced or voluntary, especially if we don't have a job lined up, takes a toll on us. 

That's why the common advice regarding resigning is to have another one lined up before passing your resignation letter.

After the pandemic hit the world, many people lost their job, and many more lost their livelihoods. Aside from those displaced from their jobs, some changed careers or shifted industries

Here are some things you may lose when leaving your job without a backup.

1. Loss of Income

Young Troubled Woman Using Laptop At Home After Losing Her Job
Photo By Andrea Piacquadio On Pexels.com

The most obvious thing you'll lose when you leave your job without a new one lined up is your fixed or recurring income. You may think you can immediately get a new job, but that is not always the case.

So, make sure to have your funds ready if you have a more challenging time figuring things out. 

When I resigned in February 2019, I had enough funds to cover my projected expenses for six months (emergency fund), return to school to enroll in a six-week Professional Education Course (personal development fund), and even travel for a while (travel fund).

I was confident that I would immediately get hired in DepEd after taking my methods of teaching course because of my credentials. However, things went differently than expected. Eventually, my expenses exceeded my projection.

When my emergency fund was about to be used up, I had to liquidate some of my stock market investments, which were not doing great then. I sold some of the shares to survive without going into debt.

The lost income from those months of unemployment wiped out my emergency fund, and it took another two years (2021) for me to replenish it.

2. Opportunity Cost

When we leave our job with no backup plan or transfer to other industries, we incur an opportunity cost.

According to Dictionary.com, opportunity cost is the money or other benefits lost when pursuing a particular course of action.

When I left my job without a backup job, I not only lost my income, but I also lost some opportunities.

Because I was back to schooling full-time and unemployed, I lost the opportunity for a fixed income.

I also lost the opportunity to increase my stock market equity value since I had to withdraw some of my capital to support my needs.

I could also not add funds to my stock trading account in preparation for the market strength.

3. Sunk Cost

Person Holding Silver Round Coins
Photo By Cottonbro On Pexels.com

For employees who leave their current job to take another career path, the sunk cost will be one of the perceived disadvantages.

Imagine working for a decade in a company when you finally decided to quit and pursue a different calling or industry that suits you better. 

Most of the work and skills you learned in that company may feel wasted. Though, there will still be some transferable skills that you can take wherever you go.

When I left the corporate IT setup to pursue an academic career, I knew I would forego what I had built in the last four years. However, I knew I had to leave then, or I might never go.

In hindsight, I was sure of my decision, but doubts were always there. I used to ask myself, "If I never left, would I might be promoted, or would I have transferred to another company?". The thing is, the rat race may always want to drag you back.

But those things no longer matter. I am privileged to be in my current position to help mold the minds of future engineers.

4. Leverage

For people who have been unemployed for some time due to the untimely resignation without a backup, it may sometimes be harder to find another job.

The thing is, some HR recruiters often consider the employment gap since the last time you were employed.

I had a workmate who was burned out in his work and decided to quit. After leaving the company, he decided to rest for a while before looking for another job.

When he started applying again, he realized that HRs often asked about his employment gap and what he did during that time.

Because of that, he lost his leverage when applying to other jobs and was offered a much lower-paying entry-level job, even with several years of working experience under his belt.

5. Sense of Identity

Photo Of A Boy Near Leaves
Photo By Min An On Pexels.com

When we are in a job for a long time, it becomes part of our identity. It gives us the confidence on how to introduce ourselves when facing other people.

But when we leave the job that we think represents who we are, we may suddenly feel lost. Now, the question is, should our identity always be connected to our career? 

The answer that I found is to never think of your career or the job you do as who you are.

When I shifted industry, I lost some of my confidence in what I should be doing. I became a beginner again, and being a beginner once more gave me the confidence to take another shot at doing the things that truly matter.

How Can You Bounce Back?

1. Refresh your resume.

Whether you want to rest for a while or apply immediately, refreshing your resume is a good move. You can update and re-design your work history and skills to make it more presentable.

2. Upskill.

Learning new skills after resigning will be helpful to keep you in the loop and help you increase your value if you want to change careers. You can choose from plenty of online courses and may even include certificates.

3. Build up your communication skills.

Often, your resume and skills are not enough if you can’t relay your qualifications to your employer — this is why you need to build up your interview skills.

I know people who got a higher position and salary because they know how to talk confidently and sell themselves.

4. Be honest.

We heard the phrase “fake it, ‘til we make it,” however, this is not always the best thing to do because you’re only setting yourself up for pressure and stress. So, it would still be best to answer honestly if asked why you left your job without a backup.

5. Expect a money gap.

Getting a money gap or decreased salary is related to losing the leverage to bargain with potential employers, especially if you’re desperate for work. However, shifting careers can also cause this.

Final Thought:

Now that I know better, I can also do better. Leaving a job without a backup may not be ideal, especially for those supporting their families, but you can always prepare.

There will always be pros and cons when we lose our job. That is why we need to keep learning, so when an opportunity presents itself, we will have the courage, knowledge, and skills to leap forward.

As a common quote says, success happens when preparation meets opportunity, so keep pushing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaving a job without a backup can cause you to lose your income source, opportunities, leverage, and, sometimes, even a sense of identity.
  • You can still bounce back if you keep on improving yourself, being honest, and sometimes lowering your financial expectations.

What’s Next?

  • Some people call their emergency fund “F.U. Money,” so they won’t be afraid to leave their job if they need to.
    • Compute how much you need to survive for 3-6 months while looking for another job.

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