I've seen responses to this question on other forums (bear with me, this isn't a duplicate). My situation is tenuous at best. I had a career change into software development about 6 years ago and worked for a start-up for about a year before I realized I was a bit over my head (not a good fit) and lost my job. I landed another full-time gig less than a month later and after almost two years and a couple of very positive reviews I sense my job being in jeopardy, mainly due to some issues brought up with my first project (haven't touched the code base in over a year) by a couple of senior members of the team.

I was asked to refactor and after 30 days there would be an additional review. I've not gotten a lot of feedback and although the issues were addressed and I have a pretty solid rationale for my updates, I don't get the sense that it's going to be positive and the result would then be a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan), which typically by default is a precursor to termination.

Knowing this early on, I ramped up my search and have two (prospectively three) interviews from firms that are interested and would be good fits. My concern is the timing of all of this. I could press forward and hope for an offer that will have background checks go down before any involuntary separation but that's a gamble. I could conceivably offer to resign during our meeting in the hopes of landing before those potential checks. Conventionally, it's never good to quit before securing other employment but my concern is that should the worst occur the ensuing background checks would be a deal-breaker.

Should I resign before I lose my current job?

  • Aren't the background checks going to be nearly the same whether you quit or get fired? If you aren't doing a good job wouldn't this show up if someone calls your current boss? – JB King Oct 3 '14 at 17:08
  • @JBKing My understanding is that unless you use a supervisor as a reference that employment history is confirmed with HR (I work for a pretty large company) and if still active dates of employment would be shared. If involuntary, then depending on the check they could elaborate on the terms of the dismissal. – Sequor Oct 3 '14 at 17:14
  • As a new user here, real curious about the downvote. Format? Relevance? – Sequor Oct 3 '14 at 19:18
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    You say you wrote this project over a year ago, you've been asked to look at it again, and it seems that it's not going well. Given that you've had a year to improve your skills since the original code, why do you expect to be treated so severely? On another note: "refactoring" should not change functionality, but you also mention "issues" you've addressed. If there are problems with the original code that you were asked to fix - and you're sensing that your review will not be positive - is it possible that you've not fixed what was asked of you? – Dan Puzey Oct 5 '14 at 7:44

The big concern I have here is your starting to turn from a "one off" to a trend. You jumped in with a startup and drowned, based on what you've said this is effectively the same thing that happened here (only much slower)

What now?

At this point you should do two things, one if you see them prepping to put the plan in order to fire you, start looking. Even in stable employment it's good to have a "plan B" just I case. (There are plenty of stories where people get laid off with no warning or a company folding suddenly you need to watch out for you.)

The second is what's happening? Is where you think you are skill wise and where you really are out of sync? Perhaps you're not clarifying with the employer what expectations are before accepting the job. Whatever it is, you really need to address this, because you're going to get a reputation. The dev community is not really that big in any geographic area. Even in places like Silicon valley, the Florida tech hub, and Northeast tech hub you can usually find someone who's worked with any applicant you get. (Exceptions being people who just relocated, taking their first real job in the field, or stick to one - two man jobs)

Fired and Quit equal Terminated

Whether you are fired, laid off, quit, retire, etc. Typically when your new employer contacts your old one the old one just says " worked here from to as " and don't provide anything more. (because saying more can potentially get them in legal trouble), exceptions apply, but this is pretty much the norm these days.

Before you quit

Since being fired and quitting really doesn't make a defense in the future, while you search do your absolute best to try and turn things around at your employer. Code not up to snuff? Ask one of the seniors what they'd like to see, or advice. You might improve their opinion of you, still get paid, and well at this point you want to be on damage control to mitigate the negative effects this could cause.

  • All good points. I've actually been very purposeful on trying to turn this situation around and learn from it. I do think there may be externalities in play, though. I did ask for expectations up front (when I was hired) with my current employer and they "didn't have any concerns" due to how well I did on their technical eval. I'm going to push for more specifics in the future, however. Thanks. – Sequor Oct 3 '14 at 17:54

Resigning won't make the issues that led to your resignation go away, unless you learned from your mistakes. You say that you made the issues go away. If they really went away, then management has no reason to be unhappy with you. Unless there are other issues, which a PIP would attempt to address. Instead of waiting for the other shoe to fall, you might be proactive and ask your management if there are any other issues to need to address and if so, address them aggressively.

If you get dismissed, you want at least to be able to say that you aggressively sought to identify and fix any issue that the management brought up and that you were successful in doing so. The last thing you want to do is repeat your mistakes in a different work setting. And if you don't repeat them, you'll save your next employer aggravation and you'll save yourself agony.


Ideally, you should start searching for a new job immediately. You don't have to take it, but you can at least do some interviews now, before your current position is lost. If nothing else, you're testing the waters to see how your CV floats.

If you are offered a new job, ask your current employer to expedite the PIP, and feel it out. If you're given questions that you can't answer, or in any way feel like you're on your way out, quit.

From your words, I can venture a guess that you're not completely happy in your current job, and in that sense, starting a job search is a good step regardless of your PIP evaluation.

In other words, be proactive, not reactive.


You did not say what country this is. But if this is the U.S., I would say do not resign. If you quit, you do not get unemployment benefits. If you are fired, you get unemployment benefits, unless it was for misconduct (which it does not sounds like in your situation).


while you have raised the question of resignation , i am sure you have made up your mind to resign already so there is no need to hold back now. but best would be to hold on to your current position till you get new job secure. why quit ? let them fire you, both ways you are going to loose your current job. so time is the criteria here.More time you get ,you can search for better jobs.

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