Perhaps you resigned from your previous job without a job offer. So, how can you explain it to interviewers?

Without additional context, quitting a job without an offer in hand may be perceived unfavourably by interviewers, says Ms Karen Lee, human resources director at talent recruitment and matching platform Glints. “Most hiring managers will initially question the candidate’s employability and motivations behind leaving a role without a job offer,” she continues.

She adds that such candidates may also lose some leverage in salary negotiations.

Candidates who are out of a job are seen as in greater need of the job, and therefore more willing to compromise.

Nonetheless, there may be circumstances that warrant resigning earlier, before the next job is secured, such as when the job is impacting one’s mental health, notes Ms Lee.

Other reasons for quitting without another job include a toxic work environment, burnout, pre-empting anticipated layoffs, or personal reasons such as taking care of family members, says Mr Danny Tan, consultant for commerce contract at recruitment firm Robert Walters Singapore.

The decision to resign without a job offer may be perceived by hiring managers as risk-taking behaviour on the candidate’s part, prompting concerns about decision-making and the ability to handle uncertainty, says Mr Tan.

However, he stresses that job seekers may have legitimate reasons to quit ahead of snagging an offer, despite the potential for more uncertainty and financial risk.

To reassure hiring managers, candidates should provide a clear and confident response that reiterates their motivations, actions taken during the period of unemployment, and commitment to their future employer.

Thus, the response should provide a concise explanation for the resignation that is connected to long-term career goals to demonstrate foresight and ambition, says Mr Tan.

Candidates should then discuss proactive steps taken during the period of unemployment, such as networking, skills development, volunteering or freelance work.

“Emphasise how these actions demonstrate determination, ongoing learning and engagement in professional development,” he says.

Next, candidates should reassure interviewers of their commitment and reliability by highlighting examples of past achievements and dedication to their roles.

Finally, candidates should mention any personal accomplishments, skills or insights they gained during the period of unemployment.

“Share how the time off allowed for reflection, personal growth and gaining clarity on career aspirations, ultimately making you a stronger and more focused candidate,” says Mr Tan.

That said, quitting without a job offer may prove to be a blessing in disguise if hiring managers need someone who can start work immediately, says Mr Gavin Teo, a director at talent consultancy Michael Page Singapore.

In such cases, hiring managers might see being out of a job as a plus point, says Mr Teo, who oversees roles in banking and finance operations.

Mr Teo adds that candidates should be honest about their decision to leave, rather than manipulating the truth. “(At the) end of the day, there will be reference checks with previous employers conducted, so it will do good to be honest about the situation.”

Says Mr Tan: “While the decision to resign without a job offer should be taken into account, it should not be the sole factor in evaluating a candidate’s suitability for a role.

“Hiring managers should focus on assessing the candidate’s qualifications, experience, skills, and cultural fit.”

Text: Tay Hong Yi/The Straits Times