The phone rings. It’s the employer you just interviewed with. A cheerful voice on the other end delivers good news: “We’ve decided to offer you the job!”
You’re thrilled, and eager to start. So you tell your new boss you can begin working for them in exactly two weeks — which is the standard amount of time one typically remains at their current company after resigning.
Until now, you’ve done everything right in the job search process. But failing to schedule time off between gigs wasn’t the smartest move.
“In my experience, I’ve seen plenty of people frantically rush to the next job without slowing down,” says careers blogger Dave Mendonca.
Sometimes it’s because people are afraid to ask their new employers for it, says Kerry Schofield, cofounder and Chief Psychometrics Officer of the self-discovery platform Good.Co. “They fear appearing lazy or non-committed, or failing to compete effectively with other employees,” she explains. “In other cases, however, there are practical reasons for not taking time off between jobs — such as relying on regular pay or health insurance.”
But if you can afford to skip a paycheck, experts say you should always take a week (or at least a few days) off between jobs. Here’s why:
1. You won’t have time to de-stress.
“Stress and burnout are real and serious problems, so taking time off to breathe between jobs is vital,” Schofield says.
2. You won’t have time to reflect.
“In our society, everyone is always rushing,” Mendonca says. “You need to stop and do an inventory of your life.” After leaving a job, and before starting a new one, is the perfect time to do this.
Take a few days to reflect on what’s good in your life, and what you’d like to change. Clear your mind and set new goals.
“Time off gives an opportunity to evaluate your life and priorities and ensure the path you’re on is the one you want to be following,” Schofield adds.
3. You may not be able to take another vacation for a while.
This short gap between jobs is a great time to travel. Once you start a new job, it’s recommended that you wait at least three to six months before taking a vacation — so, this may be your last opportunity to do that for a while.
4. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and friends.
You’ve just quit your job, and haven’t yet started your new one — so you shouldn’t have any projects distracting you, emails to respond to, or deadlines to meet. It’s the perfect opportunity to spend uninterrupted, quality time with your family and friends.
“This is extremely important and a great way to recharge your batteries,” Schofield says.
5. You’ll miss out on a chance to catch up on projects, find new hobbies, and indulge in some personal time.
Starting a new job can be exhausting. You probably won’t have the time or energy to work on personal projects, take up new hobbies, or enjoy “you” time for a few months. Take advantage now.
6. You may have a hard time adjusting.
“Another important issue is disengagement,” Schofield says. “Humans are creatures of habit, and we find it hard to make abrupt changes. Taking some time to put an old job and lifestyle to bed before starting fresh can be vital for psychological health and optimising performance.”
7. It can hurt your career in the long run.
Taking time off can be beneficial to your continuing career, as many people use the time between jobs to research the organisation they’re joining, network with new colleagues in the industry, or engage in formal training courses.
Schofield says it’s important to note that everyone is different: Some people will benefit from time off between jobs, but others may find it difficult to get back in the saddle after a period away from work. “Being self-aware and taking into account your own personality, strengths and weaknesses, the type of work involved, what your employers expect from you, and making a plan for how you intend to use the time off so you don’t end up drifting, are all important,” she concludes.
Wondering how to make the most of your time off between jobs? Read this.
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