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What to Do When You Are Asked to Resign or Get Fired


Resign or Get Fired?

When you are not performing at your job or if the company no longer needs you, you may be asked to resign. It can come down to being asked to resign versus being fired.

What should you do if you are asked to resign? Is it better to resign and leave with a resignation on your resume or should you hold out and wait to be terminated?

Important Factors to Consider

There are several factors that come into play when you resign including eligibility for unemployment compensation, employee benefits, references, severance pay, what you can say in job interviews, and how the company describes your termination to prospective employers.

If you are asked to resign, you don't need to give an immediate response. Ask for some time to think it over. Then weigh all your options before make a decision.

Options For Keeping Your Job

If you don't want to leave, there may be options for keeping your job. It can't hurt to ask whether there is anything you can do to stay on with the company. If there are performance issues, can a performance plan be implemented? Are there any work-related issues you can address? Can you be put on probation? Are there any other alternatives?

If there are no options other than resigning or getting terminated, the next step is to see if your resignation is negotiable. What is the company going to offer you, if anything, in order to get you to leave? I know some people who have gotten hefty severance packages simply because they didn't just resign when they were asked to.

Know Your Employee Rights

It's important to know what your employee rights are when you lose or are about to lose your job. When you're not sure about your rights, the best place to start is with the company Human Resources department. Even if they are in the process of terminating your employment, they can answer questions; let you know what company benefits you are eligible for, and can guide you through the process of leaving employment.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against or haven't been treated according to the law or company policy, you can get assistance. The US Department of Labor, for example, has information on each law that regulates employment and advice on where and how to file a claim. Your state labor department may also be able to assist. A labor lawyer can advise you, for a fee, and may be able to help negotiate with your employer.

Here's information on your rights when your job is terminated and where to get help, if you need it.

Negotiate the Terms of Your Resignation

When you're asked to resign you may be able to negotiate your separation from employment. Because your employer no longer wants you working for them, you may have somewhat of an advantage in the negotiations - unless you are about to be terminated for cause.

Ask about severance pay, continuation of health insurance benefits, and unemployment eligibility. You may be able to negotiate a severance package, and continued health insurance benefits for a specific period of time. In addition, the company may opt to allow you to collect unemployment and not contest your unemployment claim.

Collecting Unemployment

First of all, you may not be able to collect unemployment if you resign. If you're fired, depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for unemployment. If you were fired because the job wasn't a good fit, because your position was terminated because of company cut-backs, or because of reasons like poor performance on the job, for example, you may qualify for unemployment benefits.

Severance Pay

The company has no obligation to offer a severance package, however, depending on circumstances, a package may be offered or you may be able to ask for severance. It certainly can't hurt to ask and severance pay can help with expenses while you are seeking a new job.

Employee Benefits

It's important to find out whether you will be paid for unused vacation, sick and personal time if you resign - or if you are fired. It's also important to find out whether your health insurance benefits will continue. In some cases, employers will provide health insurance for a certain amount of time (30, 60 or 90 days, for example) after employment terminates.


References are an issue when you are asked to resign. How is the company going to frame your departure when speaking to prospective employers who check your references? If the company isn't going to give you a good reference, your best bet is to ask them not to give a reference at all.

Many companies simply confirm dates of employment, job title, and salary. That way, the circumstances of your termination of employment won't be mentioned by your previous employer.

Job Interviews

Before you say why you resigned during a job interview, be sure that your response matches what your previous employer is going to say. It will be a hiring "red flag" if what you say doesn't mesh with what the company says.

Here are sample interview answers you can tailor to fit your circumstances when you are asked why you resigned from your job. Be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn't under the best of circumstances.

The bottom line when it comes to making a decision on whether to resign is that it's important to get the best deal you can and to try to leave on terms that don't negatively impact your future employment prospects.

Read More: 50+ Frequently Asked Questions About Resigning

Resignation Articles and Advice

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