This story is part of CNET Money Tips, CNET's helpful tips for saving money now and protect your wealth in the future.
Feeling burned out? Stuck in a toxic workplace? Just don't see a future within your present role? You're not alone -- after all, in 2020, 16% of employed Americans reported dissatisfaction with their work. So, if you're unhappy with your job and want to leave, what can you do?
Farnoosh Torabi, CNET Money editor at large and host of the So Money podcast, interviewed Dan Schawbel (a career and workplace expert and a New York Times bestselling author) and Tim Herrera (a freelance writer and editor who recently quit his post at The New York Times) to learn more about navigating this tricky situation. Read on for things to consider before quitting a role you're unhappy in.
1. Make sure you're financially set
Quitting your job can be less stressful if you have a financial cushion. Ideally, you'll want to save up as much as you can, stashing enough money to cover rent and other essentials for six months to a year, while you look for your next job.
If you don't have that cushion, consider a transition to a temporary job that's less stressful and has better hours, even if the pay is less, just to buy some time. Schawbel also recommends side hustles and freelance jobs as a way to make additional money.
2. Communicate with your manager and team
It's essential to give notice to your company. Schawbel recommends starting communications earlier than the traditional two weeks to give yourself a more relaxed transition period. If you have many people reporting to you, you'll likely want to give longer notice. Especially if you're in a more senior position, you may want to keep your relationship with your company. A great way to retain that relationship is to help them with the recruiting process as you transition out of your responsibilities.
While this could be optimal in certain situations, there are some instances where giving longer notice isn't smart. If you're in a toxic work environment, it may be best to keep your final notices cordial and brief, at the two-week mark -- and resist burning any bridges.
3. Set up your benefits
You'll likely have to figure out benefits, such as health insurance, on your own once you quit. If you can afford it, Torabi suggests the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. COBRA allows you to extend the coverage you had when you were working, charging you the premium you were already paying, plus your company's premium and a fee. "It's not cheap," says Torabi, "but for many, it's what's easiest."
You'll have many more benefit considerations if you're quitting a job to pursue entrepreneurship. When you quit, you'll no longer be able to contribute to your 401(k) (if you have one). However, you can always set up a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. And you won't be able to use PTO for vacation, either, but the benefits of working for yourself might be a worthy trade-off.
4. Take care of your self-worth
It can be difficult to detach your self-worth from your work. Herrera advises understanding that workplace and company loyalty is a one-way street: Your company will not feel that it owes loyalty or holds any obligations to you, and it sees turnover as impersonal.
Especially since the onset of the COVID pandemic, with high quitting records amid the Great Resignation, workplace culture has been transitioning away from the notion of loyalty to a company. A more healthy outlook might center around the idea that quitting your job is an integral part of having a career.
"Look at jobs more as tours of duty," says Torabi. "Sometimes, tours of duty come to an end."