Ah, the great breakup of the year. You’re ready—check that, beyond ready—to give your current employer the boot. To say sayonara. To issue the ol’ two weeks’ notice.
The breakup hasn’t officially happened yet, but you’re envisioning it as a dance party in your head. Your resignation conversation has been fully rehearsed, revised, and polished.
But hang on a second. If you’re too desperate to fire your employer, you could end up romanticizing new opportunities, and as a result shortchanging yourself and your career. A prospective employer may demonstrate red flags during an interview, for example, but oooh, ahhh, you’re too busy fantasizing about working there to notice. And before you know it, you’re in another unhappy work relationship.
Here’s how to stay grounded when you’re initially gaga for a new employer—so that you can make sure you avoid a rebound one.
Consider the new job and your old job as separate entities. Yes, you’re looking to quit as soon as possible, but your new employer isn’t simply an escape route—it’s a place you’ll actually have to work. So you want to make sure it’s an opportunity that will provide long-term potential and career growth.
The best way to separate them is to fake it til you make it. That is, pretend you’re completely happy in your job—and then evaluate the prospective employer. This helps to ensure you’re considering the opportunity based on the rational versus emotional factors.
If a hiring manager is too immersed with glancing at his or her phone while you’re talking about your biggest strength, that’s a major red flag. So is seeing prospective peers speak negatively about each other in a lunch interview format. A toxic environment or a dead-end job may be right in front of you, but you’re too blinded by the rose-colored glasses to see it.
Try to approach things dispassionately—seeing both the positive and negative—instead of interpreting them as positives like, “Cool! My prospective boss is always online and will be easily accessible.”
During the interview and immediately afterward, jot down observations and memories on paper, talk to a friend, and walk through the realities. “I interviewed at 6 p.m. and the entire group was still at their desk. One person even joked they hadn’t had time to eat lunch yet!” Boom.
If you’ve received a job offer, don’t accept on the spot. Take some time. Think it over. Ask yourself why you would accept other than the fastest escape from your current situation. The same way an employer asks the ubiquitous question, “Why should we hire you?” ask yourself, “Why do I want to work for you?”
Ask when the offer will expire. In previous years, it wasn’t uncommon for offers to expire within a week or two; nowadays, recruiters want to close offers within 24 or 48 hours.
Whatever the timeframe, ensure you sleep on the offer. And then make a calm, rational decision.
It can be frustrating to say no to an offer when you’re really unhappy, but remember that a rebound relationship could leave you feeling even worse off. And it could look bad to recruiters if you end up searching for a job again just a few months after finding a new one. Yes, the next offer that comes along may be an entryway to your nearest exit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right one.
Remain calm, focused, and unemotional as you continue your search for a healthy new job. It’s out there, I promise.
This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.