I'm from New Zealand and I've been a line worker at a food factory for the past 3 months. To me this is not a career job, simply a way to make some money. However, I have been out of my field for 2 years and my next job is likely to also be in a similar factory.

Yesterday, someone reported me for misconduct, which I indeed committed. I was interviewed during the investigation and I told them the truth - I didn't hide anything.

The manager has told me that I've committed a serious breach of company policy and am likely to be terminated (there's very little doubt as to the outcome).

My question is whether it would be better to just hand my resignation now, or to wait for the result of the investigation which is going to be announced 2 days from now.

It's the impact on my resume that I am most worried about - whether it's better to be the one who quit vs. being terminated.

  • 5
    Hi! Your situation is tough, but more details are required for a proper answer. Where do you work? Country/state. Did you commit this infraction knowingly, or unknowingly? Aka is there a chance of the company taking pity on you? Also, if this is not a career job for you, in which area does your work background lie? How likely is it that your next job will be in the same field as this one? For example, are you a student working a part-time job to make a quick buck, or are you working there because you haven't been able to find a job in your field? It makes a big difference.
    – AndreiROM
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:31
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    If your manager says you'll be let go of then it could be he/she was giving you a heads up so you can quit early without having a termination go on record.
    – Dan
    Dec 16, 2015 at 18:53
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    Have you considered the immediate financial impact, if any, of quitting versus being fired?
    – Lilienthal
    Dec 16, 2015 at 20:03
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    Was your misconduct a failure to follow policy and procedures ? Or did you interfere with the product ? Recalling what happened in the Melamime in Baby Powder fiasco, resigning is probably the best possible outcome. As a fellow kiwi, was there a product recall due to your actions?
    – Criggie
    Dec 17, 2015 at 1:58
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    I don't understand why it's off topic. It boils down to "which course of action is more likely to get me further employment" and in this it's no different from cv questions etc. If anything, it is by far more precise and less subjective.
    – Mołot
    Dec 21, 2015 at 17:40

10 Answers 10


Your situation is complicated by the fact that A) you are fault and B) you will soon be working in the same, or a similar, field. Let's analyze the situation:


If you quit now you may retain some plausible deniability in the future.

Interviewer: You only worked at Factory X for only 3 months. Why is that?
You: Unfortunately at that time I had some family matters which I needed time off to address, and they couldn't accommodate me.
Interviewer: Do you have any references from your time there?
You: I was only there for 3 months, I didn't really get a chance to form a bond with any of my fellow employees, so no, I'm afraid that I do not have anyone who could speak on my behalf. But I do have references from my jobs before that, etc.

This could be more difficult if, for example, you leave this factory and then want to work at the one down the road from it. If the managers have some contact with one another, or there are other employees there who heard about your situation then the rumor mill may cause you trouble.

I also am not familiar with the laws regarding employer references in New Zealand - are they likely to go into details about why you left? (you can ask a friend to call and pretend to be a potential employer to see what they say) You may want to tailor your story in such a way as to discourage any future companies from looking into why you left.

Being Fired

If you are fired this will go in your records. A background check would reveal this information and you will have to explain what you did to get in that situation. Furthermore, you will also have to reassure the interviewer that you will not somehow make the same mistakes again.

This is far more difficult than the previous scenario.


I would say that quitting is the superior option. Just make sure that you hang on to your next job for a while longer, otherwise it will look suspicious on your resume.

Edit: Zak's answer below makes a few great points on how to handle an interviewer without hiding why you were let go. Personally I think that in these situations many employers will not even allow you to justify your mistakes, and that's what my answer is based on, but others may feel free to disagree.

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    That simply isn't true about Canadian laws. If an employee was convicted of stealing from your company you can certainly tell anyone who asks. Also when you are fired it goes on what records? Only from the place you were fired from. Your wording makes it seem like you have a floating personnel file. Other than those two pieces of misinformation you just copied my answer.
    – blankip
    Dec 16, 2015 at 17:06
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    " In Canada it is illegal for an employer to say anything negative about you" - Completely untrue. I can say whatever I like about anyone I like. I might be sued for slander if I started making things up, or for harassment if I was maliciously spreading the truth without being asked, but there is absolutely no law that prevents me from giving complete and honest answers when asked for a reference. Dec 16, 2015 at 17:09
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    I'm not sure how things are in NZ, but in the US if you quit you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
    – dyeje
    Dec 16, 2015 at 18:12
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    I definitely would not recommend lying about why you were at Factory X for only 3 months. This is easily verifiable by the interviewer contacting Factory X and asking why you left; if they say "he was going to be fired for serious breach of company policy" then not only does the interviewer know you have committed serious misconduct, but that you've also just lied to them in the interview. If I discovered a candidate lying to me in an interview like that, I would never hire them.
    – TylerH
    Dec 16, 2015 at 20:23
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    Uh... wow. This entire answer is built on dishonesty. How is not downvoted into oblivion yet?
    – jpmc26
    Dec 16, 2015 at 20:51

So, you screwed up.

It happens. As long as you didn't deliberately do something bad, and the thing itself is not a huge thing (like, say, you came to work high, committed a crime, stealing etc.):

Hand in your resignation. Apologise for your conduct. Go looking for a new job. When they ask you about why you left, be truthful "I made a mistake. It was serious enough that I felt I should resign".

Mistakes happen. Most employers appreciate this and are willing to forgive you for screwing up, so long as they have reason to believe you won't do it again. Being upfront about what happened and what you learnt from it will be a lot more convincing than lying about it or trying to hide it.

Do not try to hide what happened

Everybody you work with knows what happened, quite possibly everyone at your company. As soon as a new employer makes a phone call, they're going to know that whether or not you *technically* resigned first, you were forced out due to misconduct.

If you were upfront with them, this is not a problem. If you tried to hide it, it immediately begs the question "What else are you hiding?".

Would you hire somebody like that?

  • 35
    "I made a mistake. It was serious enough that I felt I should resign." This. That's awesome. That's the only sentence in this entire thread that I think really tells the OP the best thing to do and how they can answer honestly in an interview.
    – jpmc26
    Dec 16, 2015 at 20:56
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    @jpmc26 That's right, it might even make the employer trust you more for being honest and if he/she hires you, you're going to have a stronger bond of trust with him/her. Always be honest and never hide anything, of course, it's up to you to choose one of the pills: to be honest or to be machiavellian
    – Kyle
    Dec 17, 2015 at 11:49
  • As vague as the post is, I have to say this is the best answer. I'd really like to know if the mistake caused harm or potential harm to consumers, harm or potential harm to coworkers, or was just an acute case of extreme stupidity. Jun 8, 2017 at 3:09

I'm from NZ and can tell you for certain that you're likely done with that job. Resign.

Normally you have to get 2 verbal warnings and a written here to get dismissed, but if it's serious misconduct or you're on a trial period then you can be let go just like that without any comeback.

Since you're only 3 months in the job, I'd apologize, try to make amends of some sort, resign now and not bother putting this one on the CV. It's not compulsory to mention every job on your CV. e.g. I don't bother mentioning my earlier jobs of a few months doing work experience in my student days. They are no longer relevant.

Gaps normally get noticed on CV's, but 3 months isn't likely to be an issue. You may want to look at work in a different industry too. Because NZ is small and particularly if you work in a small town, you may encounter some of your former colleagues or your conduct may come back to haunt you in your next job.


I was interviewed during the investigation and I told them the truth - I didn't hide anything.

Especially as an unskilled worker, many companies would rather terminate an employee in a misconduct HR case than look for other solutions. Generally they cite liability.

It's the impact on my resume that I am most worried about - whether it's better to be the one who quit vs. being terminated.

Your next job will ask you why you quit or were let go. They will also call the previous company and verify employment dates and termination. You need to be ready to answer this question honestly, and in such a way that implies you won't do it again.

If the "misconduct" was something specific to the job, such as "Operated heavy machinery without a permit," then the answers is easy. Simply find a job in an industry with fewer regulations where the "misconduct" wouldn't have been an issue. For example, "I was let go for failing to follow regulation XYZ, which is why I've decided to pursue jobs in retail"

If the misconduct was something such as sexual harassment, drug or alcohol abuse, or stealing, the answer becomes more difficult. You'll still need to be prepared for future hiring managers to know about the misconduct, and have an answer ready. Here are some ideas that may help.

1) Consider leaving this position off your resume and find a job in a different industry. Be ready to be let go if this comes to light during your employment.

2) Quit now and when asked say the position wasn't a good fit. I'd also look for jobs outside of that industry as if the new job finds out you were about to be fired for incompetence, you'll be let go.

3) If the issue was drug- or alcohol-related, and this has been a wake-up call, then consider joining a support group. Although it will not help immediately, in the future, you can show that you have changed. Not everyone will be willing to give you a second chance.

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    Neither of those really. It was more of food safety which I forgot on doing out of my haste. It happened unconsciously but someone saw it. It wasnt supposed to be of a big deal really until someone reported it on higher ups. thus it became a big deal now.
    – Tifa
    Dec 16, 2015 at 17:15
  • @Tifa, this sounds pretty harmless. Even if you get another job in the same industry, everyone knows that mistakes happen. If I were you I'd immediately call your unemployment office and find out if the company can deny you unemployment benefits for this offense, and if you will get unemployment benefits if you quit. If the answers are no and no, do not quit. Any yesses and it gets stickier. Start looking for another job right away and be honest about what happened. Being fired for forgetting to follow a regulation isn't likely to be a big deal to employers. Dec 16, 2015 at 23:11
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    Some people may deem you irresponsible for a safety issue. Do not call this a "safety issue". Call it a "food handling issue". It basically means the same thing (food handling regulations are typically made out of concern of safety), but the phrasing doesn't tend to provoke people to start thinking about unsafe food-borne illnesses that are known to kill innocents, particularly weaker people like children. I am fully in favor of honesty. I'm not fully in favor of unnecessarily portraying yourself in a bad light. And, don't make a habit of publicly posting problems that may haunt you later.
    – TOOGAM
    Dec 17, 2015 at 0:49
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    Yes. If the name you use on StackExchange matches the name you use on other sites, it may be possible (or even easy) for (potential) supervisors to look up your name and find this question, and see details about what terrible things you've done; then they might think about (dwell on) any terrible things. If you need help with a sensitive situation, post (publicly but) anonymously (new/"throwaway" acct), so the posting won't be in a position to trouble you later. Otherwise, 19 years from now, you might even have forgotten about this question, but someone nosy might find and use it against you
    – TOOGAM
    Dec 17, 2015 at 1:08
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    @TOOGAM Oh no no, This is not my real name ;D
    – Tifa
    Dec 17, 2015 at 1:21

is it better to just hand my resignation first before the result or just wait for the result?

What I am most worried about is on my resume. I also dont know if I should put that on my resume and if so, would it be good If I said I quit rather than being terminated?

I can't see that it is better to resign first, unless you have a new job in hand. If you can, find your next job quickly, then hand in your resignation before you are fired.

You'll need to be ready to answer the question "Why did you leave this job?" or "Why do you want to leave your current job?" either way. Be prepared with whatever answer you want to supply.

I never hide anything.

would it be good If I said I quit rather than being terminated?

Quitting abruptly will raise the question as to "Why" in any potential employer's mind anyway.

If you aren't going to hide anything, you'll need to be prepared to tell the story of your misconduct in either case.

  • I dont have any lined up jobs yet. I was thinking that this would be a good way to take a break as the work really take a toll on my health. Maybe 2 months. So it doesnt matter what should I choose then? Do you think it could be a good idea to just not put this on resume? thanks
    – Tifa
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:33
  • Quitting abruptly shouldn't be a problem as long as the jobs are not too related. For example I've had summer jobs before - everyone understands that they were never more than temporary positions. A short employment like that can be explained away as long as it's the exception to the rule.
    – AndreiROM
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:33
  • @JoeStrazzere Yeah but I have work for different companies as well. Most are temps thats why I never had a break.
    – Tifa
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:43

If you aren't worried about collecting unemployment and you are 99% sure that you are going to be fired, I would quit in your case.

It is easy to quit and make up a truthful reason - didn't like the job - than to get fired and have every interviewer ask you why you were fired. You can't really say you were fired because you didn't like the job. I would think that most people would hire quitters way before they hire someone that has seriously breached company conduct.

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    Yes I am not worried for that. I look it up on google about unemployment thing and pretty sure I cant get one because of the breach of policy. Thanks for your input. I think you got a point there/
    – Tifa
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:47
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    Yea unemployment might not be an option anyway. Some companies report this different and some companies may just give you the unemployment anyway - costs a lot for them to defend their stance. If you don't think you are getting unemployment then it is really about the % chance you have of getting fired. It seems odd if you did something that bad that they didn't fire you on the spot.
    – blankip
    Dec 16, 2015 at 16:50

is it better to just hand my resignation first before the result or just wait for the result?

Quit, and do it now. You are being given the opportunity to do so, so hurry up and do it. Resignation looks a LOT better than termination.


Third option - mutual agreement?

In most legal systems there are three ways of terminating employment.

  1. They fire you
  2. You quit
  3. Both sides agree

So, you committed a breach of company policy. Probably without thinking it to be so serious. You was honest. Ask your employer for the third option. Then, in future, you will be able to say the truth - both you and your employer thought you are not fit for this particular company. Because this is the truth, right? Only phrased in a way that's more likely to get you hired next time. And if someone knows someone who knows what exactly happened - you still did not lie.

They might not agree, but if they got you time to quit, they may well agree. Firing someone for misbehavior is, in most jurisdictions, more hassle. By firing you, they risk you'll sue them. Slight risk, but risk none the less - so they have to do it right, with a lot of papers and evidence. So they may be willing to settle for voluntary termination agreement, one you can't really sue them for, not even theoretically.

  • 1
    +1 This is a good suggestion. By giving them a resigning letter, you save them the HR procedure to protect them from a lawsuit or a complaint to a government labor.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Jun 8, 2017 at 19:20

I've been in this position and I chose to stay out of principle... but if I were to do this again I would definitely not stay, and instead choose to resign.

As a bit of an insight into what will happen if you do choose to stay..

Firstly, the investigation will continue and end very quickly. I had one formal meeting for the sake of it where they just summarise why they're firing you - possibly with someone from H.R, head office, or a random witness to the meeting from your branch (the latter in my case). This isn't for your benefit but its so the company isn't breaking any employment laws.

Next comes the job search, you'll subtlely notice that the section's where you have to complete your job history suddenly have boxes where you have to type why you left your last job which from my experience is enough for most potential employers to stop reading your application and you may be in for a long wait for your next job.

The next job I did manage to get, I found because they had offered it to a friend and she rejected their offer before they had even advertised the job publically. This meant at the time I was the only candidate and was able to sell my "good" points in person which was enough.

This was all 5 years ago now and luckily noone ever asks me any more about that job so for all intensive purposes its been forgotten, but I'm always aware that if I apply for a job in certain fields, I may be required to defend myself again.

Note: This is a throwaway account since I don't want my real SE profile linked with my story

  • 1
    As @TOOGAM pointed out, the OP should have used a throwaway too
    – Mawg
    Dec 17, 2015 at 8:31
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    @Mawg you guys are scaring me about having a throw away account :D
    – Tifa
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:53

It's only 3 months you've been there?

Quit & then don't even put them on your resume at all. You can just say you were looking for work during that time & staying with friends or such...I wouldn't mention the current place-- at all. Imho.

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