What are the pros and cons of quitting before getting fired or laid off?

Presumably, if you quit, you lose your unemployment benefits. On the other hand, if following your job termination, you try to work for yourself (e.g. do a start-up) for a while, that fails, and you look for a job again in a year or so, your job history may include "quit his job to start a company that failed to take off" vs "was laid off / fired and then ..."

  • How can you be certain if you have not been told yet? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Sep 19 '14 at 22:37
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    Which is it Fired or Being Made Redundant (laid off) - not e that A layoff is different to a redundancy situation – Pepone Sep 20 '14 at 15:09
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    It looks as if we are missing information here. Why are you getting fired? Why would you throw away possible benefits that come with being fired when you don't have a new job yet? – user8036 Sep 20 '14 at 16:55
  • I would never just quit. I would put in a two week notice. – crh225 Sep 20 '14 at 18:32
  • "Presumably prospective employers can learn that by calling your old HR" I think that would violate privacy laws unless you gave your permission. – user102008 Sep 21 '14 at 3:46

It matters a lot whether it is fired or laid off. If you're going to be laid off, that doesn't look bad to future employers, you're eligible for unemployment, and you should never quit first.

If you're going to be fired, that's not so clear cut. Both quitting and being fired look bad to potential employers. And you generally look more attractive to future employers when you have a job, so cutting loose early only gives an advantage in giving you more time to look for the next job. You are sometimes eligible for unemployment even when fired.

If you work for an employer that fires for flaky reasons, it might be better to keep working well, and wait for the firing. A reputation like that gets around, and it's not as much of a disgrace to be fired from a place like that.

If you're truly a bad worker and deserve firing, then perhaps being a quitter won't look as bad. If you can give a good justification for leaving the job without another, that could be your best bet.

(I once left a job without another because of family issues that needed my attention. A reason like that used for leaving a job doesn't look as bad. It's not great, but not terrible either.)

  • "You are sometimes eligible for unemployment even when fired." You are generally always eligible for unemployment when fired, unless it's for "misconduct". Misconduct has a high legal burden of proof and it's the company's burden to prove it. – user102008 Sep 21 '14 at 3:44
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    "It matters a lot whether it is fired or laid off." The difference is kind of subjective. It is which one the employer says it is. Objectively, there is generally no distinction. – user102008 Sep 21 '14 at 3:45
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    @user:Almost all background check forms will ask if you've been fired "for cause" from a previous position in the last x years. Truthfully answering NO to this question does make quite a difference. Generally, if a company is willing to go through the expense of performing a background check they will likely also be able to determine if you were fired or laid-off, even if they won't tell you that they've found out this information. If you put NO for being fired but their "sources" say yes then automatically kiss that job good-bye. If you say YES then probably kiss that job good-bye. It matters – Dunk Sep 22 '14 at 19:24
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    @Dunk: and how do you define "for cause"? whatever the employer says it is? – user102008 Sep 22 '14 at 19:41
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    @user102008 I've been laid off twice and was told it was a layoff and thus can say I was not fired. It had nothing to do with my performance, and I've been able to get good references from those places. Objectively, there is as great a distinction between laid off and fired as leaving for any other reason. Yes, sometimes a layoff is a gentle or lazy firing, but usually, it's just a layoff: company needs to shed some costs quickly, employee has a weak manager or less important work or for some other reason gets in the cross hairs. Good employees are laid off too. – thursdaysgeek Sep 22 '14 at 22:15

Does it make sense to quit on your own?

Absolutely not.

If you get laid off you are eligible for a lot of different things, such as government programs (depending on your locality) or potentially even severance packages from your employer.

But what you should do is begin looking for jobs. Ideally you get laid off, collect a severance package, and then start your next job the day after you are unemployed.

Being laid off happens. As long as your reasons for getting laid off aren't, "terrible employee and got fired" and you don't have a streak of being laid off every 6 months for years it's not a bid deal.

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