Thought about in a certain way, I just did something incredibly stupid
September 17, 2015 12:02 PM   Subscribe

All things to suggest or remember after quitting your job?

I was miserable and had thought about it for a couple of years now, but I finally took the plunge last weekend. I have enough savings for about four months.

I feel like I should be panicking, that I need to hit the ground running, revising my résumé and CV and start applying right away. I also have delusions (at least so far) of eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, selling everything I own, living in my car, and racking up insurmountable credit card debt. I know that's ridiculous because I leased my car after graduating so I could focus on my 140 grand worth of school debt, and the lease is going to run out in December, lol.

Seriously though, I've been thinking of things that I could do to ameliorate the pain that might come but I just want some general advice form the good people here.

I've have already started a strict budget now so maybe some suggestions about what is cheap and somewhat healthy with regards to food or anything else you can think of? I don't have an active TV subscription, but any other bills I might be able to cut down on? Any thoughts about putting a hold on my school loans (it's only 60 grand now and refinanced with a much lower Apr, but I factored my payments into how long my savings should last). I can only think of one person who could give me a recommendation for a job, but looking up their organization they currently have no open positions. I've even thought of getting a job temporarily not in my field, because who knows how long it might be until I can get a real job again?

I've been through this kind of thing before during the recession but I still had a meager source of income from my school loans. It's different now that I have bigger bills (namely my own apartment) and zero income, just dwindling savings...

I also had these fantasies of putting my stuff in storage and moving to another state, going back to school or just saying fuck it to my profession that took me eight years to finish. I'm losing it. How do I keep my sanity too?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
You know what I wish I'd done when I took a work hiatus? I wish I'd taken a part time job doing something low key that I more or less liked, such as working in a bookstore. That would have made my savings last longer and it would have given structure to my week.

For food, you already know to buy food and not food products, but in my town there are expensive farmer's markets and cheap farmer's markets. Find the cheap ones.

That's all I've got for you.
posted by janey47 at 12:10 PM on September 17, 2015 [23 favorites]

Keep yourself on a regular schedule of doing meaningful things. No sleeping in and then watching Netflix all day while eating poptarts. From 9AM until 12PM apply for jobs, lunch until 1PM, then volunteer at a food bank until 5 M/W/F and read that great Russian novel you've been meaning to read T/H. Or whatever works for you, just don't slip into mindless vacancy.

Exercise regularly, even if it's just talking long walks. Look up cheap but nutritious meals - most people can save a ton of money by switching to frugal food.

Does your industry have conferences you can afford to go to on your own? Is there a local meetup group that you haven't been going to? Get yourself to them and network network network.

If you quit, you most likely will not qualify for unemployment, but each state/country is different, so look up your local rules.

Start figuring out plans B, C, and D. Register with temp agencies or the like. Sign up to tutor if your background lends itself to it. If you have retirement savings, there are ways that you can leverage them to some degree if you get into dire straights - research what options are open to you.
posted by Candleman at 12:21 PM on September 17, 2015 [15 favorites]

One thing you could do is reach out to your whole network of friends and acquaintances, tell them that you've left your job and are now job hunting for great jobs that match your X/Y/Z skills and interests, but also that you're also looking for small paying jobs to tide you over until you land somewhere good as well as small volunteer tasks that would help you network and gain skills. This might turn up money making endeavors like house or pet sitting, helping with events, contract work, etc, and could be good ways to expand your contacts and networks.
posted by vunder at 12:24 PM on September 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

You may be able to seek a deferment on your student loans without it disturbing the rate etc. Perhaps because you quit that might be an issue, but calling up / emailing the loan servicer and asking about the deferment terms can't hurt. If nothing else, you can likely get the payments reduced, but getting payments to fully stop until you have income would be even better for you.
posted by nobeagle at 12:31 PM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

You should start applying right away. You shouldn't give in to panic, though! Make a list of what drove you from your last scenario so you can focus on what you want from the new one. And do whatever you can for yourself to calm down--exercise, baths, etc.

For food there is this cookbook. Time freed from your yuk job could be filled with mindful shopping, cooking and eating (and not panicking).

I would freeze the loans, myself, if there wasn't a significant financial or logistical penalty involved.

Temping is good if you can!

Focus on the deep releif of breaking from yuk job! Support your hard wrought decision 100%. Best!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 12:31 PM on September 17, 2015

Set aside a certain amount of time each day that you're going to spend on your professional life. You'll be working on your resume, updating your LinkedIn site, searching for job postings, reading up on organizations that employ people in your field, contacting former professors and colleagues about whether they have ideas for you or are in need of your contract work short-term, reading job interview hints on websites, working on your professional web presence, etc.

Don't go into panic mode and think you need to do this every waking hour, but don't get blase about it either (ok, I mailed out that application, time to watch Netflix until I hear back from them). Plan on spending 2-3 hours per day, even when you don't have anything "hot", and then there will be crunch times of writing careful cover letters and precisely tailored resumes when you may be inspired to spend more time than that. And vacation days (weekends) where you don't think about it at all. But keep at it slow and steady.
posted by aimedwander at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2015

Get an OK part-time job that has you interacting with people. Coffee shop, bookstore, bar, retail store, data entry in an office. Sign up for all the temp agencies and keep in touch with them. Lethargy and depression are the killers in unemployment.

Keep active and keep earning a bit of money and you'll be MUCH better off than spending 24/7 obsessing and worrying about the next job.
posted by barnone at 1:20 PM on September 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

You mention credit cards, jokingly. Try to forget you have credit cards until you have an income again.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:25 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

By which I mean: try not to use them, ever. But make timely payments if you have a balance.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:27 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you should take a week off (maybe the rest of this week and next week) and start pounding the pavement.

September and October are hiring season. Hiring season ends around American Thanksgiving. After that people are thinking about Christmas, and hiring season will not resume until at least Feb or March.

It will take you 1 month per 10,000 worth of annual salary to find a job.

Anyway, I think you really need to motor, because once November rolls around things slow down.
posted by Nevin at 1:47 PM on September 17, 2015 [11 favorites]

Yes to being mindful of your time. I took a year off working once many years ago. I still have no idea what I did for those 12 months. I still am aggravated with myself for totally wasting that free time.

Schedule time every week to read Ask A Manager. Alison gives so much amazing free advice there.

When you start interviewing again, you'll be asked why you are unemployed, why did you leave your last job, what have you been doing while you were off, etc. Be prepared with positive answers for those questions. "I was fortunate enough to be in a position to take time off to do X hobby/Y volunteer project. I did Z classes/conferences/networking to stay current in the industry. Now I'm ready to get back in the workforce and I'm excited about this position because your company is [Doing Innovative Thing/Expanding into New Market/Has New Important Client]. I can contribute [New Skill I Learned While on Break]."

Good luck and enjoy the break!
posted by Beti at 2:09 PM on September 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

My advice is to not waste time messing around with indecision, or pitching yourself at an inappropriate or unlikely job, level, or field. When people ask you, "what kind of job do you want? I'll keep an eye out", give them a clear answer. They might be able act on this. But if you don't know what to tell them (specifically - job title), they won't know what to look for.

Use your immediate, actual experience as the basis for your next job. Go for something logical (if those jobs are available in your area) - same title, same level or maybe one up. Give yourself a timeframe to get a job like that. Work hard to get it. If it doesn't happen after a certain point, be prepared to compromise. (I don't want to guess at what that timeframe should be - I messed this up, that's why I'm writing. I'd say that after a few months of no response, think about shifting goals and strategies.)

If there aren't many logical-for-you jobs in your area, figure this out fast and work quickly to identify a role that's very close and easy to sell, and hustle to make it happen - network, volunteer, etc.

You can go to school, you can change careers, you can travel. But plan those moves, so they're not out of desperation - decisions made that way can be wrong in an especiallly wrong way. Shoot for a logical job first, save, etc. Maybe the setting and people will be great, and that job will work out beautifully.

A lot of things (esp jobs) come down to luck. Most of the time, "luck" is other people. Don't let yourself fall off the earth - get out, stay out, meet as many people as you can.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:54 PM on September 17, 2015

When you start applying for jobs, set certain hours to be "working" hours (like 9-5 M-F or whatever) and only work then (unless you are prepping for an interview or something). When you're unemployed it's really easy to feel guilty when you're doing something fun because you think "I should be sending out applications."
posted by radioamy at 7:55 PM on September 17, 2015

For cheap food? Couponing actually works. I got loads of Cheerios to last until the end of time for $2/box using coupons. Cheerios are fortified. You can spend the next four months living off of that. Also through coupons - bag of beans $1, bag of rice $1, also could live off until the end of time.
Sarcasm, but you get my drift.

I agree that finding other types of temporary work - craigslist, might be a good idea - just to give your day order and give you something else to do, and extend your unemployment, is a good idea.
posted by Toddles at 8:11 PM on September 17, 2015

Also - ENJOY YOURSELF!! Go see cheap matinees during the day, free lectures, go to free art days. You may never get this opportunity again in your life.
posted by Toddles at 8:12 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

What Beti said!
Find a good excuse for the time off.

If you can go traveling -anywhere! On a long hike, or visiting far flung relatives, or caregiving for someone, they all sound like reasonable things to do, and you don't have to mention that they only took up a week or so of a couple of months of unemployment!

E.g. it was time for a change, and fortunately I was in a position where I could take a break and do X, now ready to return to workforce, blah blah blah.
Just anything to make it sound like you are doing EXACTLY what you planned to do, which on some level is correct! You needed a break first, otherwise you would have started searching while still in the job. Just be sure that you remember that, and therefore actually give yourself the break you need in this time.

I would apply for several roles, and register with a few temp agencies right away, to get the ball rolling, and tell them you will be away for the upcoming week, and will be available for interviews and contracts after that, then actually take a guilt free break, with plans scheduled for when you get back. I would go camping if it was me. No phone, no computer, no around the house to dos, a complete break to get some perspective, but cheap. Your thing may vary.
posted by Elysum at 4:47 AM on September 18, 2015

I'm on the other side of this (my savings have dwindled and i'm looking for work but to no avail).

The biggest regret I have (since it took quite a while to find work after I left) was not volunteering for a few days a week. That way, you still have something to go on the resume. I hated having to account for my time so I know why I didn't do it (and I was burned out to the fuckth degree) but one day a week in a charity shop is nothing compared to full time work. The other good reason to do this is that it keeps you on the ball. I did lots of 'learning' whilst I was 'away' (shall we say) but it wasn't enough to keep me alert. When I went back to work a year later, I found the pace insane, my short term memory was crap and I did not last.

oh and ALWAYS remember why you left. Keep a list so you have no regrets. I still remember the shitbucket who stalk-managed me and I will never regret leaving as a result. Enjoy your 1st month, do what you want but spend time investigating what you might like to do full time (whether that's working for someone else or for yourself). Experiment a lot. Volunteering is a good way of doing jobs you would never otherwise get in a million years without experience. I just volunteered as a proofreader for a few hours. Why would anyone in their right mind let me do that? If I wanted to, I could do a course and build up more voluntary work experience and slowly build a career from that (I won't).

Take advantage of courses which may come at a cut price for the unemployed.

Also if you can travel then do it. I should have done it but instead I spend my money on I guess food, survival etc. I would much rather have seen Central and South America. You could see if you would be able to work as a tour guide in places you like. I saw a lot of that in Rome - people standing outside St Peter's with a pass and gathering people to join them. I'm guessing someone gets a cut of this income (whoever gives them the official pass) but it seems like a very nifty way of earning an income.

Speaking of food: rice, beans, vegetables. Cheap as chips. Make your own flatbread. Take packed lunches out when you go out to explore art galleries etc.

Lastly, don't overwhelm yourself with 100 things to do. You'll end up doing nothing. make plans and stick to them. A spiritual/meditation practice is not a bad idea to calm your head down a little.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 7:17 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you ever find yourself wondering "When I get some time..." Just do it. You have the time. This is an opportunity to use your time for yourself.
posted by domo at 9:00 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Give me your favorite and best things to do with...   |   Name a new kitty! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.