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If you think you're about to get fired, do you quit or fight to stay?

Things are not going well at work. You don’t get along with your boss. Several questions have been raised about your performance. The handwriting is on the wall in big bold letters: you're about to get fired; it’s just a matter of time.

Should you quit to protect your honor? Or should you soldier on?

What career coaches recommend

The recommendation of many career coaches and recruiters is to hang in there – if possible.

Keeping the job has many upsides, they say.

“If you resign, you’re not going to be able to collect unemployment,” Donald J. Marotto, a New York area-based senior career consultant with the Impact Group, a career management firm, tells eFinancialCareers. “The hiring manager is also going to say when the going got tough, what did you do? You bailed.”

Matter of perception

Then there’s the matter of perception.

“In general, it is harder to get a job when you don’t have a job,” says Chad Oakley, president of Charles Aris, a Greensboro, NC executive search firm. “That’s driven by a perspective in the market place. If you’re gainfully employed, you look valuable to other employers. Other companies feel if they value you to employ you, then we’ll employ you as well.”

“A person who has a job has more leverage,” says Doug Schade, principal and supervising executive recruiter for The Winter, Wyman Companies, an executive search firm in Boston. “Even if there are issues, at least you are gainfully employed.”

Be financially prepared

If you do decide to walk, Schade says, you need to ask yourself a big question: Are you prepared financially to go without work for six months or a year?

“Unless you’re in a truly hot market and believe your skills will provide you access to employment, or you start interviewing and find a job in a week or two,” he says, "it’s best to keep the job."

But most recruiters and career coaches say there is one big exception: you’re so miserable it’s taking a toll on you or it's affecting your health.

Your health comes first

“I mean miserable in the true definition of the word, as in I really can’t stand getting up in the morning to go to work,” says Oakley. “Or it’s dominating my thoughts and adding a high level of stress. You’re having a hard time sleeping at night. If your friends and family members are commenting that you seem like a different person [and] you seem really upset with your job, that’s a sign that something is amiss.”

Otherwise, he says, “I would triple my efforts to find a new job simply to avoid a situation where you have to find a new job while you’re unemployed. If you quit now, you have to explain why you quit and you could be branded, through no fault of your own, as a quitter.”

Employee assistance program

Marotto suggests taking steps to make the most out of a difficult situation while also ramping up efforts to find a new position. Have conversations with your boss. If your employer provides access to an Employee Assistance Program, he says, take advantage of it.

“That’s totally confidential,” Marotto says. “You could have several free sessions with a counselor. It can also help you get a handle on whether it is you or it is them. Seek mentoring. Seek someone to help you get the overall picture.”


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AUTHORLekan Oguntoyinbo Insider Comment
  • Te
    13 June 2012

    This may go without saying, but check out the book, "Who Moved My Cheese." There are words of wisdom here about paying attention to negative signals. Unless you've got a psychological issue, if you've got bad vibes about your job security, believe your gut! That means moving as much as you can in your spare time (make some!) to pursue another job. Our industry has gotten more volatile every year since the tech wreck. I don't see that changing anytime soon. So, far better that you make the call than your boss. And, I disagree on the part about bailing if it's getting to your health. There is zero reason to tolerate an abusive boss or co-workers. But, learn if you can to not take it personally and go get that next job. It's tough being on the street right now; more so than usual. You'll still find a gig, but it will be easier if you're looking while still employed.

  • hd
    13 June 2012

    I agree with the soldiering on advice. Was once there, soldiered on and got a nice severance a year later post-merger. More recently, had a similar experience with a key difference. I was being fired and made arguments as to the cost-benefit ineffectiveness of that decision for the company. I made representations to goals I could achieve if given the correct assignment and resources and to my surprise, the firm bought it. I also bought myself time to attempt to find a better fit.

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