When quitting your job becomes your only option, you will find yourself face to face with unemployment. It’s a scary concept, choosing to move away from what is familiar in favor of new opportunities. In the best case scenario, you feel comfortable quitting because you have a plan in place that will render you only temporarily unemployed, while the worst case scenario is that you don’t feel that you can quit due to a lack of plan or direction- ultimately leaving you feeling stuck and miserable. The unfortunate truth is that even when quitting becomes a necessity, fear of the unknown can keep us from making crucial career changes.

I am here to tell you that even when you do not have a job to transition into immediately, you and your career can survive quitting. Here’s how:

STEP 1: The first step (and one that is often overlooked) is to take a deep breath and allow yourself to work through the emotions that accompany leaving a job. Quitting a job is stress inducing, regardless of what brought you to that decision, and taking a minute to clear your head before jumping into the job hunt will help you to reorient yourself and determine which direction your career should take. Rushing into a new position without being in the right mindset could lead to quitting another job in a relatively short amount of time.

STEP 2: Once you feel that your mind is clear, make a list. Include what was missing from your last job, what you are passionate about, what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, and what your skills and experiences are. This list will ultimately become the outline for what you want in your next job. Obviously, this wish list will need to be realistic (not everyone can be an ice cream flavor taste tester); however, creating a list will help you to jumpstart the brainstorming process and determine what career paths resonate most with you.

STEP 3: After making your list, decide on the industries (and jobs within those industries) that align with your wish list. You may be surprised to find that an unfamiliar industry or position is the most appealing to you. Regardless of your familiarity with an industry, company or position, research. Find out what requirements you will need to meet, what the current job market is like and if the average compensation will meet your monetary needs. Don’t forget that research does not have to solely take place at a screen- use networking to connect with others who are currently in the field you are interested in. Those conversations will give you insight into the culture of the industry and honest feedback based on experience.

STEP 4: Update your resume to reflect your new career path. Include any experience, skills and training gained at your previous job, and cater your resume to the job that you want. If you have a few industries or positions in mind, make a few different versions of your resume- one size rarely fits all when it comes to what a hiring manager wants to see from their applicants.  

STEP 5: Apply! You can consider this step as winning the battle against unemployment (winning the war will come later when the job offers start rolling in). Once you have fought your way through the first four steps, you will finally be ready to start submitting resumes and filling out applications. While there are a myriad of ways to do this, consider your best option working with a placement specialist or recruiter who will be able to hear your wish list, help you edit your resume, and match you with a long term employment opportunity.