Unless you're one of the lucky few, there have been days at work when you have fantasized about a new job, a new employer, or even a new career. As a practical matter, though, you can't move on until you leave your current job. So the question arises, "Is it better to quit or get fired?"
Here’s how to weigh the pros and cons of each, and do what’s right for you.
The benefits of being fired. This ends your agony about whether to stay or go; the company has made a decision for you. Though it’s not required to offer you severance, you may be able to negotiate for a package that can help keep you afloat until you land something new or start your own business.
The downside of getting fired. Even if you’ve been thinking about quitting, getting fired can be traumatic, especially if it’s never happened to you before. It's like getting dumped in a relationship, but you also lose your steady income. Suddenly, you're unemployed, with the stigma that entails. And as you interview for new jobs, you might need a credible answer to the question, "Why were you fired?"
The benefits of quitting. Compared to getting fired, quitting sounds appealing for several reasons: you get an instant feeling of freedom; leave on your own terms; and might even be a hero or heroine at your own goodbye party. Colleagues may react with admiration and even atwinge of jealousy. Plus you get to act out your fantasy of marching into the boss's office and saying--either boldly or (preferably) more diplomatically--"Take this job and shove it!"
The downside of quitting. Obviously, there's no severance package. There's no avoiding that awkward conversation with your boss, either. And there's a good chance that quitting will end relationships; trying to leave on the best foot possible can add stress to your departure. (See "How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Your Bridges.")Once you've given notice, the weeks leading up to your exit can be awkward. Some people might accuse you of being on autopilot, even if you just feel freer to take risks or speak up because you're no longer worried about getting in trouble or being shot down for your ideas. Others may value your openness and authenticity.
When it's better to quit. Don't quit until you find another job, or are prepared to start your own business. Most people who choose to quit are far more confident than they should be and not ready for what lies ahead. Before you quit, set aside enough money that you and your family can live comfortably for at least six months.