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I quit my job with nothing else lined up and in a terrible job market. I have no regrets.

Robin Madell   

I quit my job with nothing else lined up and in a terrible job market. I have no regrets.
  • Basant Shenouda, 27, is one of LinkedIn's biggest career content creators.
  • She once quit a toxic job after less than a year in a tough market and with nothing else lined up.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Basant Shenouda, a 27-year-old implementation consultant at LinkedIn from Dublin. It's been edited for length and clarity.

I'm a Gen-Zer and one of LinkedIn's biggest career content creators. I create content on topics like job hunting, promotions, and skill development, and I onboard LinkedIn's biggest clients as a technical project manager.

But before I got this role, I had to maneuver my career and leave some toxic jobs and work environments. One particular job made me incredibly depressed — I realized it wasn't a good fit for me in the first two to three weeks, and I quit in less than a year.

I actually wish I'd prioritized myself and left sooner.

The management style made the job difficult

At the beginning of my career journey, I tried many different things. I was trying to learn about the different industries but also find what I was good at and what I liked. I especially liked working at technology and lifestyle companies, as I found their marketing and sales strategies really interesting.

One job was particularly hard because of the management style. I was expected to work constantly from 9 to 5 in the office without breaks, with management overworking me and still thinking I wasn't productive enough. I didn't feel like management cared about my career development or well-being.

I wanted to be able to work on impactful projects, and I especially sought mentorship and support toward my career aspirations. I was still figuring out what that meant, but I had a lot of ambition to prove myself. It was important to me not only to have a workload that I felt supported through but also the space to be able to voice my concerns, ideas, and workload issues.

Unfortunately, it felt like the only thing that was important to the company was completing our deliverables as quickly and mechanically as possible without making any mistakes. Because of the immense workload, I was prone to making mistakes, which my managers never took well at all.

I decided to quit less than a year into the role to protect my mental and physical health and well-being

My work schedule meant constantly working with a short lunch break and being expected to work late to complete all my tasks. I didn't have time for a social life and was even too tired to try.

Ultimately, I quit after less than a year without any job lined up. I wanted to take care of myself. The toxic work environment had really impacted my self-esteem toward my career capabilities.

I was an international graduate on a short-term visa who needed a job to stay in-country, so deciding to leave added a lot of stress in a different way. But I knew I was still better off leaving and focusing on myself.

After I quit, I took a period of self-care

After I left the job, I spent time ensuring I was returning to my health basics, like eating well and spending time with my loved ones. I took a six-month break to focus on myself and some personal projects.

During this period of self-care, I started my venture to coach other Gen-Zers. My career consulting focuses on my experience as an international student and woman of color and how I've navigated work visa processes and gotten into Big Tech.

Working for myself toward my career ambitions really helped boost my mental health and confidence again.

Here's what I recommend to others who are stuck in jobs with poor work-life balance

Timing is incredibly important. I left my problematic job during a bad job market, which greatly stressed me. Mental health is beyond important, but it's also important to have a sense of financial security during these tough times. I recommend always assessing the risks of leaving a position — especially if you don't have a backup plan.

I also recommend that workers continuously look toward future job opportunities and look at their careers as a staircase. You'll never get from point A to point B in a straight line.

Sometimes you just have to take things step by step and take on projects for your next role that'll bring you a better work-life balance.