Is it better to quit or be fired from a job?

January 08, 2023  •  Reading Time: 7 min.

Are you thinking about quitting your current position and perhaps even already on the job search? Or are you considering to wait until you get fired?

Many employees wonder if they should resign before they are laid off. In this way, you may be able to avoid the negative perception associated with being fired. In some cases, it might thus make sense to resign – since, for example, you get more time to prepare for a new job and can start your search for a new position with a clearer head.

📝 Note: If you are fired, you may not receive advance notice from your current employer and therefore may have no control over the matter at all.

However, you might not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you give notice. Therefore, in case you find yourself in such a situation, you should generally weigh the pros and cons first.

In this article, we will go into more detail about when it is better to quit or be fired.

Is it worse to quit or to be fired?

Quitting your job allows you to leave on your own terms.

  • You may be able to discuss a good severance package: There you can agree on specific benefits, such as the continuation of your health insurance for a certain period of time.
  • Another advantage of quitting is that you don’t have to explain to future employers why you were fired.

📝 Note: You are typically not eligible for unemployment benefits unless you have been terminated.

This means that, especially if you are dependent on receiving unemployment benefits, it may be a good idea to wait until your company gives you notice. Because if you quit and your company does not pay severance, you will have no income until you find new employment.

What are the signs you should quit your job?

However, there are certain signs where it is definitely better to give notice rather than stay in the workplace.

📝 Note: A toxic work environment is a very good reason for leaving a job.

If you feel that your mental health is suffering, you should definitely make a change. If you do not want to leave your employer for good, you could first try to find other jobs within the company.


You’ve been struggling with performance issues for the past few months because your new team lead is asking you to do tasks that aren’t in your area of expertise. Now you could approach your boss and clarify the situation. Maybe they can transfer you to another department where you can use exactly your skills?

If it’s really just a communication problem, the easiest thing to do would be to ask your manager to adjust your duties and to try it out during a trial period. If there are still problems afterwards, you could always change your current job. This is especially true if you don’t get along with your supervisors on a personal level, and your mental health suffers as a result.

What is the main difference between quitting and being fired?

  • In case of quitting, you have decided to leave the job yourself. Perhaps because of another career opportunity or for personal reasons.

⚠️ Attention: It is important to resign on good terms with the company, as it could serve as a reference for you in the future.

  • layoff, on the other hand, is when you are forced to leave your job. The company usually has a reason to dismiss you – and you have no say in the matter.

When might it be a wrongful termination?

Do you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated from your current job?

Every firm has a different policy for terminating employees. However, if you believe you were wrongfully forced to resign, you can take legal action. This ranges from being treated unfairly in the workplace to suffering from discrimination (e.g. because of your sexual orientation or age). The above is definitely an illegal reason for dismissal.

⚠️ Attention: If you feel you had to resign/were fired because your employer discriminated against you, you should contact an employment attorney or employment lawyer. Certain federal laws protect all employees from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

💡 Tip: We’ve put together an entire guide to employment law, including tips on “How to handle sexism at work” and “Signs of discrimination at work”.

When is it better to quit or be fired?

🙅 Quit or get fired?

Let’s take a look at when it might be worth waiting to be fired:

Unemployment benefits

“Am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I resign?”

You may need financial support until you find a new job. You should bear in mind that in many cases you will not be entitled to unemployment benefits if you leave your job voluntarily.

➡️ Therefore, it may make more sense for an employee to wait for their dismissal.

Severance package

“What about my health insurance?”

Unless your employment contract provides for it, severance pay is not guaranteed in the event of quitting. Getting fired may have advantages in this respect. Indeed, you can often receive severance pay if you are laid off. For example, if you do not want to lose your health care coverage, you can negotiate that your employer will continue to pay it until you find a new job.

➡️ This means you may be in a better position to arrange a later end date or severance if you are being laid off.

Legal steps

“Does quitting make it more difficult to take legal action?”

If you want to sue your employer for wrongful termination or retaliation, it may be more difficult if you voluntarily give notice. This is because you cannot sue for dismissal if you were never fired. However, most states recognize that people can be forced to resign due to unacceptable working conditions, such as harassment and discrimination. This is legally referred to as constructive discharge.

➡️ In this case, you may be able to file a lawsuit.

➡️ However, it is much easier to pursue legal measures if you have been terminated.

Future employers

“What about my reputation?”

Always keep in mind how a firing could affect your future employment prospects. Employers are sometimes reluctant to hire someone who has been dismissed.

➡️ You may be able to improve your future job prospects by quitting on your own terms.

📝 Note: Let’s take the example of you being fired. The hiring managers at your prospective employer may want to know why you left your previous job. In this case, it might be better to be honest about why you parted ways with your previous employer. Explain the situation thoroughly and from your own perspective.

Conclusion: What to consider before deciding to walk away

As you can see, sometimes it is better to wait to be fired instead of simply leaving.

If you choose to give notice anyway, you should prepare the whole matter well and, above all, take your financial situation into account:

  • Do you have enough money to pay for the necessities for a few months?
  • What about benefits that were covered by your employer?
  • What about the job market?
  • Will you be able to find new employment soon?

💡 Tip: You will most likely appear more confident in the interview process with potential employers if you don’t stress about financial problems or need to be back on a steady income right away.

📝 Note: This article does not constitute legal advice. The federal and state law changes frequently, and therefore the information contained herein may not apply to your state’s laws.

Business person who is happy with the decision that they quit their job

Is it better to quit or to be fired? – FAQ

Is it better to be fired or quit without notice?

Under normal circumstances, it is best to give a two-week notice. However, you may have to give notice on the spot (and you are entitled to do so).

Can I say I quit if I was fired?

You can say what you want when applying at a new company. For example, you could tell your future employer, “I decided it was time to leave.”

What to do when you get fired?

1️⃣ Negotiate the terms of your separation. 2️⃣ Check if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. 3️⃣ Ask for references. 4️⃣ Know your rights. 5️⃣ Take time to process everything and take care of your mental health.

Why do some people quit instead of getting fired?

The great advantage of giving notice is that you can decide when it will happen, and it will not be decided over your head.

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