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Get Me the F*ck Out of Here: To Job or Not to Job Before Leaving Your Public Accounting Job

Awkward office situation

Last week, we talked about first steps for quitting your job in public accounting. The TL;DR of it is 1) decide you’re going to leave before you do something you might regret like punching your partner in the balls, and 2) get your resume ready. Alright, so let’s assume you’re ready to leave and you have that resume polished up like the fine turd it is. Let’s move on to the next step: finding a job.

There are two paths you can take here. The first involves getting the heck out of Dodge before you have a plan, insomuch as getting the heck out of Dodge isn’t actually a plan. The second is looking for a job before you leave this one and sticking around until you have another offer in your hands. Both have their pros and cons, which we will address now.

Option A: Quit that piece of shit job before you line up a new job

If you were the type to get off on taking crazy risks, chances are you wouldn’t have landed in the risk-averse world of public accounting. But let’s just pretend you have a wild streak and are ready to take a scary leap. Great. Have any cash in the bank? Are you a free spirit without a spouse, kids, and a mortgage? Could you, in theory, survive three to six months without a salary if you absolutely had to?

All of these are considerations when deciding if you should have a Scarface moment or stick around and suffer it out until you have somewhere else to land.

Option B: Go shake your goods in front of another firm before telling your current one to shove it

If you think you can stick it out for a few more weeks, this may be the smarter option. After all, it’s pretty satisfying to tell your current firm to shove it knowing you have an offer that includes more money or fewer hours or — BETTER! — both.

It’s going to kill me to say this but for those leaning toward Option B, finally responding to those overeager recruiters who are constantly blowing you up on LinkedIn might not be a terrible idea at this point. You know what, let’s save the “how to find your next job” conversation for next week, that’s a whole discussion of its own.

OK, so now what?

I was going to draw up a fancy flowchart on how to decide whether to quit right away or find a new job first but then I realized that it isn’t simple enough to work for a flowchart, plus I’m lazy and they don’t pay me to create original artwork.

via Rancid Flamingo Comics

In all seriousness, the obvious advantage to finding a job before you quit your current one should be clear. If you want me to spell it out for you: it’s money. You know, that thing that gets you out of bed when you’re dreading your professional life and seriously considering growing a beard out and living off the land with nothing but a Bowie knife and a single pair of Carhartts.

Portrait of Jim Bowie
Be like Jim Bowie

We can talk all day long about office perks and work-life balance and vacation days but really the only reason anyone goes to work is so they can pay for a roof over their head and food in their belly. That’s it. Don’t bother deluding yourself into believing otherwise.

Finding a job before you leave your current one gives you the satisfaction of knowing you won’t end up like Jason and me, one misstep away from living out of a cardboard box standing on a strip mall corner somewhere with a “Will VLOOKUP For Food” sign. So that’s a plus. Then again, leaving as soon as you realize you can’t take another second of this crap gives you the advantage of getting out before your mental health deteriorates, money be damned.

Which path should you choose? I have no clue. I’ve done both in my professional career and all those paths led here so take that for what it is. You know what, here, read this post from would-be GC contributor “Bob Loblaw” from years and years ago. It may give you some insight while we mull over next week’s topic: to recruiter or not to recruiter.