Advice » In the Workplace» Leaving a Job » Resign or Be Fired?
Resign or Be Fired?

Resign or Be Fired?

 By Robert DiGiacomo

The writing’s on the wall about your future –– or lack of one –– at your company. You worry about being fired because of performance issues or because you just don’t get along with your boss.     

Should you stay until you’re fired, or should you go out on your own terms?

The answer depends on whether your reputation or bottom line is your greatest concern, says workplace author, speaker and consultant Alexandra Levit.

“It’s always better for your reputation if you resign, because it makes it look like the decision was yours –– not theirs,” Levit says. “But if you resign, you may not be entitled to the type of compensation you would receive if you were fired.”

Here are some other questions to ask yourself as you weigh your resign-or-be-fired options:

Is Your Mental Health at Stake?

Prior to giving notice, assess how much toll your miserable work situation is taking on your psyche, says career coach and speaker Julie Jansen.

“I ask my clients, ‘How hard is it to get out of bed in the morning?’” says Jansen, author of I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This. “If they say it’s not that bad, I tell them to try to tough it out. If they can’t stand it, they have to leave.”

Where Are You in Your Career?

The impact of being fired is usually not as severe on less-experienced professionals, still trying to forge their career paths. Because they typically have less money saved, younger workers also are more likely to need to collect unemployment benefits, which are typically available only to those who are terminated or laid off.

“At the junior level, being fired could be seen as a rite of passage,” Levit says. “I still wouldn’t advertise it, but most people feel that being fired once comes with the territory.”

If you are fired, you should acknowledge the termination to recruiters and prospective employers without discussing the actual circumstances behind your departure.

“You have to be honest that you lost a job, but you don’t have to say you were fired for performance reasons,” Jansen says.

What Are Your Job Prospects?

For most job seekers at the manager level or above, it typically takes six months to land a new job, Jansen says. So before submitting your resignation letter, be sure you’re ready –– financially and emotionally –– to make the leap.

“You have to know how much money you have, what the market is like, what’s going on in your industry [and] psychologically if you can handle it,” Jansen says. “If you can handle all of that -- quit. If you can’t –– don’t.”

Employers also may prefer to hire people who are still employed or who have been out of work for six months or less.

“Absolutely it is better to stay employed while you look,” says Levit, author of New Job, New You. “Candidates are always seen as more desirable if they are currently working for someone else. "

Do You Have Any Leverage?

Those at the management level and above may be able to resign with a severance package of six months or longer in exchange for agreeing not to bad-mouth the company, according to Terry Bacon, a scholar in residence at the Korn/Ferry Institute, the research arm of a management consultancy.

“A lot of companies know if they have a senior person leaving, [there’s a risk] of greater damage to the company,” says Bacon, author of The Elements of Power and Elements of Influence. “Some people will leave, and can spin a story that will put the company in a bad light.”

Will Word Get Around?

If you’re far along in your career, a resignation may be better for your image.

“At the top levels, it’s more of an insider community, and everyone will know the true story about why you were let go,” Levit says. “It’s also expected that, as a seasoned executive, you will possess a certain amount of competence, and being fired leads people to question that competence.

Accept Your Fate

If you decide to hang on until you get that termination letter, prepare yourself for the moment. Seek counsel from friends or a career coach.

“If you know you’re going to be fired, turn a lemon into lemonade and make the best possible transition you can,” Bacon says. “The worst thing is to be in denial and pretend it’s not happening.”

Latest Jobs

St Jude Children's Research Hospital
Posted: 05/29/2015
Memphis, TN
St Jude Children's Research Hospital
Posted: 05/29/2015
Memphis, TN
Posted: 05/29/2015
West Bloomfield Township, MI
Posted: 05/29/2015
E Walpole, MA, 02032
Blood Systems Incorporated
Posted: 05/29/2015
Scottsdale, AZ, 85250

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-306