I spent a summer working as an engineer for a cool company working on biotech. They liked me and wanted me to return after graduation, I even got a scholarship from them (which I would have to return if I were not to work with the company for 2 years).

I finished my degree (top marks) and decided to join them; although by that time my interest has shifted more towards software, mathematical modelling.

The company has changed quite a bit since my internship and I did not like the new changes. In my free time I was looking for alternative job options, but so far did not manage to find any amazing alternatives. And whilst I am searching, it is good to have the financial stability of regular income.

However, recently the company announced that it is in big financial trouble and that it will be making salary cuts and likely firing some employees. I feel that I might be offered to leave. How should I behave? Is it better to resign gracefully or hold onto financially stability as long as I can and wait for a notice "you're fired" in a months time or so (that probably will not look very good on a CV)?

Your advice and opinions would be very much appreciated.

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    Being laid off because a company was in financial trouble and had to cut employee numbers really doesn't look bad on your CV. It's definitely not the same situation as being "fired" which implies that you were in some way deficient or committed some misconduct. – Carson63000 Mar 25 '14 at 6:59
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    "which I would have to return if I were not to work with the company for 2 years" -- this sounds like a colossal deal. If you resign you owe them a tonne of money, if they lay you off you don't. So don't resign unless the benefit of doing so outweighs the cost, which seems unlikely in this case. And if you're offered voluntary redundancy, check that accepting it doesn't trigger the scholarship repayment. – Steve Jessop Mar 25 '14 at 13:29
  • Well, having read all of the comments it seems that resume-wise: "resigning with a job offer before redundancy" > "being made redundant" > "resigning without a job offer before redundancy" > "being fired". P.S. The scholarship is worth 1.2 * "one month's salary". – anon Mar 25 '14 at 13:36
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    @A.L.Verminburger: OK, so maybe not a "colossal deal", but one worth bearing in mind. If you want the financial stability of an income while looking for another job (entirely reasonable having been earning only 6 months), then I'd guess taking an extra 1.2 month loss is not negligible. Depending on the repayment terms it's equivalent to being without income for an additional 5 weeks on top of whatever it really turns out to be :-) – Steve Jessop Mar 25 '14 at 13:54
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    @Carson63000: "being "fired" which implies that you were in some way deficient or committed some misconduct" Nope. In the U.S., you can be fired for any reason (as long as it's not discriminatory) or no reason. It does not mean anything about what you did. There's no objective difference between the terms. – user102008 Mar 27 '14 at 3:57

Right now, you've got a paycheck coming in, so you can afford to be more picky about which job offers you entertain.

Look for your next opportunity, and in the meantime, keep doing your best work. There's a difference between getting fired because of cutbacks vs poor performance - will your employer write a letter for you to that effect?

If they're announcing or hinting at these pending terminations, perhaps you could ask? If a great opportunity presents itself, go for it. I got let go for the same reasons, and wound up in a pretty good job. I explained the situation, and they didn't think twice about hiring me. Also, might you get any kind of severance package? Something else to consider.?......

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    Depending on where you're located, the difference between being let go and resigning can also influence whether you can get unemployment while you're looking for the next job. – Sean Duggan Mar 25 '14 at 12:31
  • The only real thing to add is that the OP should figure out how to make things right with their manager asap. "friction" between a manager and an employee at a time like this is a great way for a company to terminate the employee rather than pay out any sort of severance package. – NotMe Mar 25 '14 at 20:45
  • Yes, this is the right answer. Generally don't quit until you have your next step figured out (as in signed another contract). But start looking for it intensely. If you get fired while looking its not great (because you'll have 0 income for the time being), but its okay, happens – Hobbamok Jan 19 '20 at 21:30

I agree with others: stay onboard while you can.

Also, I'll add: be very discreet with your job hunt. Do not let them know you are looking for a job. That could make things difficult for you and limit your options.

There is also an unlikely, but not unheard of event: the company may change back into the one you enjoyed previously. Another good reason to keep your job hunt unknown.

Your English is exceptionally good.


I will also point out that with a layoff you will likely get unemployment (At least in the US, laws vary from country to country). And a layoff will not harm your career, it is not the same thing as getting fired for cause. So keep working until the layoff and keep looking for another job in the meantime. At this point your first concern is to keep money coming in while you look for something else.


There is a big difference between being made redundant and being fired. Being fired implies wrong-doing on your part that led to them firing you. Being made redundant means the company was in trouble and had to let people go.

Being made redundant doesn't impact your CV either way. Just make sure you are clear about it being redundancy not being fired. Also don't put negative feelings or mentions of friction on your CV. Always build up your achievements and focus on things you learned, or training you received, new skills you aquired, etc.


Worked at X for 6 months.

I enjoyed my time at X and learned Y and Z but unfortunately the company had a round of redundancies shortly after I joined and I was made redundant.

  • "Being fired implies wrong-doing on your part that led to them firing you." Nope. Here in the U.S., you can be fired for any reason (as long as it's not discriminatory) or no reason at all. They could fire you because they don't like the color of your shirt. – user102008 Mar 27 '14 at 3:54
  • You are right about the "big difference", but it is not along the lines of "fault" but along the lines of "replacement". Being made redundant means the job is gone and they won't hire another person, while being fired means they still have the job to fill and will hire someone else. – nvoigt May 20 '20 at 7:01
  • @nvoigt Which means that you were not doing it well enough as otherwise they would not be bothering to replace you. Being made redundant might mean you were bad but probably means you weren't needed. Being fired means that even though they needed someone in that role you weren't good enough. – Tim B May 22 '20 at 21:25
  • Isn't that exactly what I said? If not, please clarify, I didn't get it. – nvoigt May 22 '20 at 21:31
  • @nvoigt You said it wasn't along the lines of "fault". But that's exactly what it is. Fired means someone rightly or wrongly found fault with you... – Tim B May 22 '20 at 21:34

After being in the business world for 30 years, first rule.

Do Not Resign!

If the company is going under let them "let you go", you were probably hired under right to work so they need no reason to release you. Even though you have been employed only 6 months you may be able to get some unemployment assistance.

Read the agreement on your scholarship carefully to make sure if they release you, that you are freed from the burden of pay back. Make sure you keep & print every email they send you on the topic along with every letter they give you and document every meeting with you supervisor with dates, times and speaking points of the meeting.

If they try to fire you for incompetence or other issues, beside economic layoff, you would probably still owe them, so it is good to have your ducks in a row to demonstrate why you were let go. ......


If at all possible, leave under circumstances you control. In short, don't be turned out on the street at the same time dozens of people are also cleaning out their desks.

Under the circumstances, it doesn't appear you'll have too much problem finding work. Having a combination of mechanical engineering and software seems like a charmed existence. Unless you're in the middle of nowhere, you should be able to find work before they let you go.


DO NOT resign. Under no circumstances should you resign. Unless the law has changed grossly in the last few weeks, if you are let go involuntarily you should be able to collect unemployment payments while still looking for work. This is a nice safety net. If things go south on you before you can find a new job, you'll at least have SOME money coming in.

If you leave voluntarily, you have no such protection.

In the meantime, get that resume polished up and be looking. BUT DO NOT VOLUNTARILY LEAVE UNTIL YOU HAVE A PLACE TO GO. Unemployment insurance is there for a reason -- do not be ashamed to take advantage of it.

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    You mention "the law". Where? More importantly, are you in the same locale as the OP? – NotMe Mar 25 '14 at 20:43
  • Chris raises a good question here. Please expand your answer with information about what laws and what countries you're referring to. – CMW Mar 29 '14 at 7:50

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