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I recently was told by my supervisor to hand in my resignation or get fired after my 6-month probation with a bad report. The last statement really took me aback, because it sounded more like a threat. And I had to verify by asking a follow up question: Would I still be terminated after 6 months with a bad report, even though I show significant improvement or progress. And they answered: It doesn't matter if you do improve, you will be terminated with a bad report.

For context, I had joined about almost 5-6 weeks ago. Generally took about 4 weeks just to get over the general onboarding details/reports/trainings/access/training/etc. During the interview, they had constantly brought up the concept of me being independent in my work, and I had answered yes because I was confident that if I was trained to do a task - I would indeed be able to do it on my own. Personally, once I had gotten trained, I do not need to ask for help after. Maybe I would make mistakes the first time, but I eventually would be able to understand what I did wrong and correct it immediately or the next time I do it. It was also a relatively new department, so when I finally came in person, there was one other person in the area; so a total of 3 individuals.

After I had gotten done with onboarding and trainings to gain access to the facilities, I had some issues with calculations - I never really liked math, however I can generally do it on my own using paper/calculator. However, that took me maybe ~1 week, maybe 1.5 weeks to get over - not saying I am the best at it. But I did not really need anyone to supervise me doing basic calculations. My only other coworker, who had to take on the role as my mentor, had also commented that I am showing progress. However, after submitting my data to my supervisor on Monday, I was asked to come into the office on Friday afternoon to "discuss my data". Of course, my data was never discussed. Instead it was a spiel of how I am not cut out in this line of work and that I should resign or face termination with a bad report.

Not to be surprised, I was very devastated. I thought I was doing really well and making progress as fast as I could. However, now I am coming to the realization that maybe I did cut off more than I could chew by joining a new department. However, I wish that they had not hired me from the beginning, if they were looking for someone with more experience. Because I had even declined another job offer that did not even care about my experience, because they were going to train me before I do any task on my own. The only reason I had chosen this, versus the other, was because it had more prestige, and I loved the direction it was supposed to go in.

My question is, would it look bad if I resign so early to my future job applications? I know that a short-term position such as this should not be included in a resume, but I did learn new techniques. Or should I just not mention this at all, and maybe consider explaining it off as a "bad fit".

Would appreciate any insight.

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    What country are you working in? Oct 29, 2023 at 18:28
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    One thing to be aware of is whether resigning vs firing affects unemployment benefits in your country. They may want you to resign to save themselves some money.
    – DaveG
    Oct 29, 2023 at 19:12

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On the face of it this makes no sense. But there is going to be a reason they are doing this. The key is finding it.

If the only reason for this was that you were a lousy worker with no hope of being a good one then they would fire you now. Even in countries with civilized worker protection laws (I.e. not the US) it's fairly easy to get rid of a worker after six weeks. That would save them paying you for about four months. But they don't. So they want something else. There may be office politics involved. Don't rule out the possibility that your supervisor simply doesn’t like you but actually doesn't have the power to fire you.

If the only person you have talked to so far is your supervisor, then go and talk to HR. As is often said, HR is not actually your friend, but they are often more reasonable than a boss who has his own agenda. HR works for the company, not your boss, and if he is trying to screw you over they might not like it. Tell them everything that has happened to you. If nothing else they should give you a different perspective and more information. Perhaps enquire about transferring to somewhere else in the company.

You should of course start looking for a job. Talk to the company who made you the offer you declined. They may not have filled the position they offered you. Devote most of your energy to the job search. Do the minimum necessary at work. Don't work late or put in extra effort. Stay with the job because it's always easier to get a job if you have one than if you don't, plus you get you bills paid for the next few months. And if you are fired later before you find a job you will get unemployment benefit, whereas if you resign you won't. Don't worry about the threat of a bad report. It makes much less difference than employers would like you to believe.

The other reason not to resign is that things can change in four months (the time you have left on your probation). Your supervisor may be fired, or transferred. Your entire department may be laid off, in which case you might get a severance payment. Or a lot of your colleagues may quit, leaving you as the only qualified worker.

If you get a new job before you are fired, then go to the company and negotiate a release. Essentially say something like "I will resign now, two months before the end of my probation, if you pay me one month salary. You get to save a months salary that way and you don't have to go through the process of firing me".

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  • Start by reaching out for the offer you declined. No harm in that. Oct 30, 2023 at 18:54
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Ah the old "Jump or be pushed"

As a general rule, it is seen more favorably (by potential future employers) to resign rather than be fired.

That said, there are other factors to consider:

  • Unemployment benefits. In some countries voluntary actions (resignation) changes how and when you can apply for unemployment vs involuntary actions (being fired).

  • What workers protections are there. Being fired for a single bad report without a first verbal warning and written warning and then a final written warning (in NZ for example) for something that would be a real stretch for 'Gross Misconduct' - of course, if you work in an at-will state, you're screwed here.

  • What does the company policy say? Getting fired for a single bad report sounds dodgy to me. It sounds like there's other things they don't like - but the bad report is what they are pinning their justification on. In which case, whilst you legally may be protected - there are many ways people can be forced out of a Job (retaliation) which whilst illegal, is difficult to prove.

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    Often at the end of a probationary period, there is a report done that basically indicates if the employee is worth retaining or not. Also note, even in countries with good worker protections (Australia and New Zealand for instance), you can be fired during probationary period with little or no warning. Oct 30, 2023 at 8:40
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My question is, would it look bad if I resign so early to my future job applications?

It doesn't look great - but it certainly looks better than getting fired a few months into a job. However, as long as it's a one-off then it shouldn't be too much of an issue. But if you have a whole series of jobs where you're resigning or getting fired about a few months, that's a red flag to employers.

One thing that you should look into is whether resigning vs getting fired matters for things like claiming unemployment benefits until you get a new job. In some places you may not be able to get them if you're considered to be voluntarily out of work (i.e, you resigned).

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  • Why would you even put it on? YOu're there 6 weeks. Just pretend you were unemployed for 6 weeks. Or traveling. Or let go by layoffs at the previous company. And honestly, unless you're jobless for the next year nobody is ever going to ask about it. Nov 6, 2023 at 6:42
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My question is, would it look bad if I resign so early to my future job applications?

The way you described it here looks awful, as you managed yourself to get effectively fired faster than I would ever even consider such action. Not even an attempt to resolve it, no benefit given, just straight out the door - by hook or crook.

The good part is that no one ever needs to know it the way you told it here. You can safely either skip such job from your CV entirely, or when asked about it explain "it turned out not to be a fit so we've both agreed to part ways", which if you take the resignation will be true. Now which one is better for your CV is for you to decide.

It may also be worth understanding possible impact on stuff like unemployment benefits etc. And I would reach out to the job you've passed, who know, they may still be interested. It has been known to happen.

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