FAQs: Taking Time Off Between Jobs

The answer depends on your employers, your budget, and your needs. At a minimum, aim for at least one week between jobs. That gives you time to decompress and prepare for your new role. Some workers prefer to take 2-4 weeks off and build in a vacation or trip during their break.

However, the actual experience of leaving a job can be much more civil. Your current position may have grown monotonous and it’s time to move on, you may have been headhunted and received an offer that is too good to pass up, or your contract may have simply come to an end. However, it is possible that you were unhappy in your position, were laid off, or were fired.

Leigh Coultas, a medical biologist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, had been debating leaving his role as laboratory head for a while. According to him, over the course of his academic research career, he gradually came to the conclusion that he wanted the scientific discoveries he made to be “useful for people — not just knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but knowledge for the sake of improving people’s lives.” Since his research project and a trainee’s PhD program were coming to an end in February 2020, he seized the opportunity when it presented itself in the business-development section of the institute.

Whether they wanted the change or not, the pandemic appears to have altered the career paths of many people. The United States has seen a record number of resignations this year, which the international media has dubbed “The Great Resignation.” More than 40% of respondents to a survey earlier this year by Redmond, Washington-based technology company Microsoft of 30,000 people across 31 countries said they planned to leave their current employer in the next year. In a separate survey of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it was discovered that 38% planned to switch jobs or roles in the upcoming year.

There are generally right and wrong ways to leave a job, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the departure from the position (see “How to leave a job gracefully”). The wrong way is taught by Hollywood movies. The proper way guarantees that you maintain goodwill with your former coworkers and managers, who may turn out to be your coworkers or managers again in the future, and ensures that your replacement can take over your position without undoing the work you have already completed.

Adrienne Nugent is a clinical genomics scientist for genetic information company Invitae, based in San Francisco, California. As a military spouse, she has moved around the country with her husband’s postings and currently works remotely from Guilford, Connecticut for the company. One year into what was initially intended to be a two-year contract, the first such move came as a surprise. 5-year position, which was created soon after Nugent began his postdoctoral work at the US National Institutes of Health The news of our impending move was “very difficult,” the researcher recalls. “As is typical for someone a year into a postdoc, at that point in time I had multiple long-term experiments underway in the lab, mice breeding, collaborations forming, et cetera.”

She was fortunate to have a mentor who was willing to support her in continuing her postdoc through a combination of part-time, remote work and a weekly 180-mile commute. Being open and transparent with employers during job transitions is crucial, as Nugent has learned from this experience and others she has had since.

How Much Time Should I Take Between Jobs?

Should you take time off between jobs?

Many people decide to begin their new job as soon as possible because they require a steady income. People’s desire to please their new employer is another factor that makes them feel as though they must begin working right away. Taking time off between jobs can be very beneficial for your wellbeing if you can afford to forgo a few days or weeks of pay and you believe that your new employer will be understanding of this transition.

Why is it important to take time off between jobs?

Making the decision to take some time off in between jobs is crucial because it can help you unwind and have fun before learning a new job. Getting a new job is exciting, but it can also mean a significant change in your life. You’ll probably need to adjust to a new schedule, commute, work culture, and job responsibilities. Despite the fact that all of these things may be advantageous, it is advisable for your personal wellbeing to take some time to rest and recover before taking on new obligations.

One of the few times in your career when you don’t have to worry about your paid vacation time or how you’ll assign work to your team while you’re away is when you’re between jobs. Instead, you can enjoy temporarily having fewer responsibilities. You could spend this time engaging in enjoyable activities or finishing up work you’ve been meaning to get to.

What are the benefits of taking time off between jobs?

The following are some advantages of taking time off between jobs:

How to negotiate time off between jobs

Here’s how to let your new employer know that you’d like to take some time off in between jobs:

1. Plan your start date

When you receive a job offer, consider the date you want to begin working for the company. You will have more influence over this choice if you provide them with your start date as opposed to asking them when you should begin. Think about how much time you want to spend on hobbies and how long you can go without getting paid.

2. Explain your intentions

Remember that most employers recognize that beginning a new job is a major transition if impressing your new employer is the reason you’re reluctant to take some time off between jobs. If you let them know that you intend to take a short break, they will probably understand. You could, for instance, say that you worked hard to make sure your previous team was in good shape when you left and that you need some time to rest. This demonstrates your respect for the businesses you work for and your sense of morality.

3. Maintain prior plans or commitments

Making plans with others is frequently ideal when people are between jobs. Tell your prospective employer that you have prior commitments, but that you can start right after them when you talk about your start date. Most employers are willing to give you the time you need because they recognize that you have a life outside of work. If not, this might be a sign that in this new role, taking time off may be difficult.

4. Pre-negotiate vacation days

There may be times when an employer demands that you begin working right away. For instance, they might want you to receive training from the person whose job you’re taking over or they might need your assistance finishing a project on time. In these circumstances, try to arrange a vacation as soon as possible. When things slow down or when you complete training, they might be willing to give you some time off.

Tips for planning time off in between jobs

Make your time off meaningful and beneficial to your well-being. Making the most of your downtime between jobs can be accomplished in the following ways:


How do you ask for time off between jobs?

If you are interested in taking some time off between jobs, here’s how you can communicate this to your new employer:
  1. Plan your start date.
  2. Explain your intentions.
  3. Maintain prior plans or commitments.
  4. Pre-negotiate vacation days.

How long do people take off between jobs?

The most crucial thing is to give yourself enough time to unwind and recharge so that you can begin your new job feeling renewed and energized. The ideal length of a vacation, according to research from the Journal of Happiness Studies, is eight days.

Is it OK to ask for time off at a new job?

Inform your new boss while accepting the offer. Tell your boss when you’ll be taking time off, how long it will last, and what you can do to make sure your onboarding goes smoothly. As an alternative, you can also inform your new boss of your future plans as soon as you start, preferably in the first week.

What is the time between jobs called?

Frictional unemployment refers to the time between jobs when an employee is looking for a job or changing jobs. Depending on the circumstances of the unemployed person, it may be voluntary and is sometimes referred to as a search engine.

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