Career Advice

Is it Better to Quit or be Fired? A Data-Backed Answer

getting fired from work

Quit or be fired? It can often be hard to tell what is better than the other when the end result is the same: You’re out of your job. 

The prospect of being jobless may be somewhat exuberating (yay, no more toxic boss!) and stress-inducing as well (ugh, no more paycheck!). Before you make that decision, take a moment to read this post. 

So Is It Better to Quit or Be Fired?

The answer depends on your situation. If your mental or physical health is at risk, quitting immediately will bring much-needed relief. On the other hand, waiting around to get terminated may give you extra time to secure a job offer or secure unemployment benefits. Some 50% of the US workforce are “quiet quitters” aka do the minimum requirements within their role and not a notch more. 

Is it Better to Quit or Be Fired for Unemployment? 

When a person is fired this means that they did not leave their job on their own term. This entitled you to unemployment benefits. The benefits also apply if you have been laid off

Although each state has slightly different unemployment insurance rules, you’d likely receive biweekly payments over a set period of time, usually 6 months to a year. The payouts will end once you get another job. 

Of course, there are some cases in which people who have quit their job can receive unemployment benefits. However, you will need to prove that you had a “good cause” for living in order to be considered eligible. For example: provide a verifiable account that you experienced danger at that job. This can be a daunting bureaucratic process. 

Termination vs Resignation: Key Things to Remember 

When resigning a person is often leaving a job of their own accord. Perhaps childcare is too expensive and it would save money to have just one parent working. Or you found a better-paid job.

resignation letter

Or you’ve just decided to walk away from a toxic work environment like some 4 million workers already did last year as part of the Great Resignation. The prospect of quitting a job may feel thrilling. But without a new job offer or a financial cushion, the situation can easily get stressful. 

Involuntary termination, on the other hand, is when a person is removed from their position at the employer’s will. Sometimes it is because the position is no longer needed, and sometimes it happens because a person did something they were not supposed to do (termination for a cause). Involuntary termination typically makes you eligible for unemployment benefits. Some companies may also offer a severance package if one was specified in your employment contract. 

Forced resignation is another type of firing that many businesses try to use. It may start with creating a hostile environment or taking away hours in hopes of getting a person to quit voluntarily. It may also end with a person essentially being forced to sign a contract saying that they quit when in reality they were fired. Usually, businesses will resort to these tactics in order to avoid having to pay unemployment or severance. 

Overall, when deciding between quitting and getting fired, you should always think about these three things: 

Your Career Prospects

This one is a bit sticky. Your next employer will inevitably ask about the reasons for leaving your last job. If you quit, they’ll want to know why. They may have some significant concerns if you quit after just a short period of time or if you badmouth your boss. Then again, if you were fired, you’ll also have to answer some questions on the job application

At any rate, think about how you could avoid tainting your reputation. If you’ve been laid off due to company downsizing, openly state that. But if you’re facing the prospect of getting fired for misconduct, it may be better to quit voluntarily. 

Unemployment benefits 

Being fired in many cases essentially gives you entitlement to unemployment benefits for a set amount of time ( 6 months to a year), as long as you meet all the conditions around work and wage requirements.  

Resigning usually does not leave you any entitlement to these benefits unless you fit some specific criteria such as illness or danger to your well-being at that job. You will have to present your circumstances to a state authority that will determine your eligibility status. 

Severance Package

If you are terminated, you may be offered a severance package — a mix of cash and other benefits, accessible post-departure. Severance packages are common during layoffs as employers try to maintain goodwill with former employees and avoid public backlash. 

However, severance packages are highly discretional and may not be paid out even when originally promised or negotiated. Ex-Twitter employees still didn’t receive severance agreements (and payouts), despite then-CEO Elon Musk’s claims that “everyone was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.”

Final Thoughts: Is it Better to Be Fired or Quit Without Notice?

If you are facing an investigation of wrongdoing, and know it isn’t going in your favor, quit without notice and move on. Otherwise, when it comes to termination vs resignation, it is always better to be fired. In this case, you’d be legally entitled to unemployment benefits and severance pay. In any case, pay attention to all your options and work contract clauses to make a good choice.


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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