Many people who find themselves looking for a new job are in the position they’re in because something didn’t work out at their previous job. But though it may seem like a matter of semantics, how you parted ways with your prior company actually could become very important later on down the road.
If you’re looking to leave your job for greener pastures, here are the pros and cons of quitting and getting fired.
Quitting in a professional manner can keep business relationships strong.
One key to keep in mind is that relationships play a huge role in business. Nowadays, if a prospective employer calls a person’s previous employer who fired that person and asks about them, that previous employer is more likely than not going to remain neutral and give a very vanilla description of the person’s work habits. Badmouthing a former employee who was fired could lead to a lawsuit, and even if that company had built up a strong case to terminate the employee, the company has more to lose and less to gain than the employee, so it’s not an endeavor the company will want to pursue.
So if you can help it, in that sense, it’s better to part on your own terms. If you’re miserable at your job and know you want to leave, your employer is going to think much more highly of you if you walk out on your own- as long as you do so cordially and respectfully. And that could be critical. Even if your former employer is too afraid to verbally attack a former employee’s work habits, a positive recommendation is better than a neutral one.
Getting fired usually means severance pay, whereas quitting on your own does not
As important as relationships with former employers may be, sometimes they’re simply not salvageable for any of a number of reasons. If that’s the case, and you can sense that your employer might be looking to get rid of you soon and there’s nothing you can do to stop it, it might be better to wait it out and allow them to terminate you for one simple reason- severance. Do note, however, that this does not work with getting fired for cause, so it’s important that you remain professional and respectful and allow the process to play itself out organically.
Employers are generally motivated to provide severance pay for two reasons. One, it gives the remaining employees reason to believe that they’re not heartless and will at least do something to help limit the financial damage that laying someone off can cause. Two, and most importantly, most severance agreements come attached with the employee signing off on a promise not to come after the company in a court of law. Getting involuntarily terminated (without cause) will usually net you some severance pay, and quitting on your own likely will not.
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