It's impossible to read the news these days without seeing a headline about all the workers quitting their jobs. We all learned a lot about ourselves over the past year+ of the pandemic, including what we want/need/deserve from our employers. Plus, there's something exciting about the change of pace that comes with quitting after the world was so stagnant for so long.
But keep in mind that Hollywood isn't like other industries. It might be easy for a coder at a tech firm to quit their job and find another, better one. Our industry is fickle, though, and all about relationships. Many people are afraid that quitting will make them look like they aren't tough enough to handle Hollywood, or raise questions about their level of commitment during future interviews. It's one thing to quit if you already have another job lined up (congrats!), but it's a totally different story to walk off the job with the hopes of finding something better, especially if you haven't been at the company for a substantial amount of time. Sometimes, sticking around a little longer will give your career a boost, but in other cases, leaving is certainly the right choice. So how do you decide what's best for you?
First, think hard about why you accepted this job in the first place. Is it a stepping stone that is likely to lead to a position you are going to enjoy? For example, many agents ask for a one-year commitment on the desk and then will offer to help their assistants find their dream jobs. If this is the case, consider sticking it out. Combat burnout by putting your energy into networking and completing tasks at the office that will boost your resume to help pass the time. Another reason you might consider staying is if you're on a show that just isn't the best fit but isn't toxic. Finishing out the shoot can be worthwhile to fortify relationships and maintain your reputation, but you don't have to agree to come back next season if it's just not your thing.
If you're thinking about quitting because you're eager to transition to a new side of the industry, but there's nothing particularly bad about your current job, try to hang in there until you land the new role. We say this mostly because transitions within the industry can take longer than expected, and you want to make sure you can afford to live and can avoid an unnecessary gap on your resume. That said, you should create time to lean into the world you're trying to transition to! Attend workshops and events geared toward that sector, tell everyone you know you want to make the leap, apply regularly, and see if there are any projects you can take on in your current role that can improve your resume for your next step.
With all of this said, if you are in a truly bad situation, we'd suggest leaving. If your boss is one of those crazy Hollywood execs that will scream and throw a stapler at you because they’re angry that you dropped a call, or that their computer is frozen, or that it’s raining, you don't have to deal with abuse. The same thing goes if your paychecks mysteriously stop showing up on time or in full or if your role shifts without fair compensation (think: you're a production coordinator who also gets tasked with COVID safety). You may worry that you’ll burn a bridge by leaving, but think about it — anyone who will abuse you is not going to help you down the line! Even if they like you, they’ll resent you when you leave regardless of when you do it, and all you'll have to show for staying is worsened mental health.
Of course, this is a personal choice — you may want to stay until you find something else because you need the money or because a project you've poured your heart and soul into is about to get released. It's up to you, but however you make the decision, know that quitting will not ruin your chances of ever working in Hollywood again. You’ll need to carefully figure out how to address it in an interview, but sometimes quitting is the best choice. Trust your instincts and look out for yourself. After all, companies look out for themselves all the time, laying off employees without a second thought. You don't owe anyone anything, and your career should serve you.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan