Job Search Strategies: quitting a job

Aurora Donnelly is a solo practitioner always looking forward to the next exciting transition.

Some attorneys, albeit very few, are leaving jobs. Even in this market, some lawyers are lucky enough to find a job that suits them better. Some are rash enough to opt for the uncertainty of looking for a job without having one rather than stay where they are. Some may be super optimists, or the pain they are leaving behind is greater than the pain they anticipate from being unemployed. Maybe they have to relocate for a spouse or for some other reason.

What is interesting is that, while the stigma of getting fired or laid off has diminished, there is now a new, unspoken vague little stigma attached to quitting a job! A colleague who quit his job at a law firm to relocate without a job in the new city is being heavily quizzed as to his reasons for leaving his position. Does he know how bad the economy is? What was the problem with the job he quit? Had something gone wrong? Was he anticipating getting laid off?

A few years ago, being unemployed was the shameful thing, now quitting your job is seen as a possible lack of judgment, something to be explained. Why is that? Is it a case of throwing away an opportunity, when other people are looking hard for a job?

A colleague who left a job because he relocated with his fiancée is suffering anxiety over this issue. Even the dual-career explanation does not end the questions. He left a solid position as an associate and is now having to look for a new job in a new city in this questionable economy.

The same thing happened to me a couple of years ago. I relocated with my husband because we decided that his job offer in another state was a good opportunity for his career progression. I could always re-open my fledgling law practice later. In subsequent interviews I did not undergo the kind of questioning that my colleague above is facing. But that may be because of the timing– the job recession was not as pronounced in 2008 as it became later.

Or, maybe, I hate to say it, it is still considered OK for a woman to follow a man’s career moves, but not vice versa? I hope not.


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