In the song “The Gambler,” Kenny Rodgers sang, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” If that seems to sum up your job situation, then you may be wondering if you should quit or allow yourself to get fired. Here are some common situations and how you should handle them.
1. I Need More Money
No one wants to feel overworked and underpaid. If this sounds like you, then perhaps it is time for a change. If you’ve already been turned down for a raise or work at a company with a salary freeze, then you probably need to dust off the old resume and start job hunting. In general, it’s better to already be working when job hunting since many employers may seek a detailed explanation about why you left your last position. So try to stick with your current employer until you find a higher paying gig.
2. I Think I’m Going to Be Laid Off
It seems like everyone knows somebody who has been laid off or has experienced this themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics144,111 employees were laid off in January 2008. If there’s a real chance that your job will be cut, it’s time to start looking for a new position. While you may be tempted to quit without having a new job, this is probably a mistake for two reasons.
First, your employer may offer a severance package to those who get laid off. This can include severance pay, training to help you get a new job, stress management help, health insurance, and job placement assistance. If you’re positive your position is going to be eliminated, you may be able to bargain for a better severance package by approaching your employer before the ax falls. Make sure you understand all the terms of your severance package before signing the paperwork.
The second reason for sticking it out is that even if your employer doesn’t offer any severance goodies, your decision to cut and run could affect your eligibility for state unemployment benefits. Many states limit or eliminate eligibility to those who voluntarily leave a position.
3. I Don’t Get Along With My Boss
It can be stressful to work for a boss who is moody, unpleasant, untrustworthy, or uncommunicative. Unfortunately, the longer you work, the more likely you are to encounter a boss who is unpleasant to deal with. If it seems unlikely that your relationship with your boss is going to improve, it’s probably best to move on. If it’s impossible to move to another department in your company then it may be best to leave. In situations where the boss is out to get you and you might be fired, you are in a tough spot. Cover your bases with your company’s human resources department and keep records because most states make it tough-to-impossible to collect unemployment checks if your boss claims you were fired for willful misconduct. Quitting may be your best option in this case. Unfortunately, if you quit it’s unlikely that you’ll receive any severance pay.
4. I’m in a Dead-End Job
It’s not easy to get up everyday and go to a job that bores you to tears. Be honest and ask yourself if you’re just going through the motions to collect a paycheck. If that sounds like you, then you’re probably not being challenged. Being bored on the job can lead to mistakes or sloppy work, which won’t win you any favors with the boss. Too many mistakes can lead to getting fired or placed on probation.
Examine your situation and see what you can do (if anything) to improve it, perhaps by adding some skills to get a better position at your company or educating yourself for a wholesale career change. If you can’t take much more of your job and think you’re really going to walk, make sure you have money to pay your living expenses while you job hunt.
5. My Job Is Making Me Sick
Has your job become so stressful that you can’t relax, eat, or sleep? Being in a horrible work environment can actually lead to physical or mental illness. Continuing in a job you hate can make you feel angry, hopeless, or apathetic. If this sounds like you, try taking a break from your job and improving your mental state before making the big decision to quit.
If you’re overdo for a vacation take one. Serious health problems may qualify you for a sick leave. If you’ve built up a lot of goodwill over the years you may even be able to ask for a leave of absence for a period of time. Use the time away to relax and reflect upon what you’d really like to do. The time off may help you decide you need to find a new job, transition to a new career, or even go back to school.
6. I’m Experiencing Discrimination
Federal laws prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. Being a victim of discrimination can make it impossible to get promotions, pay raises, or other opportunities for advancement. Looking for a new job may be the solution to an unfair situation if you think you’re going to get fired.
Many people being harassed end up quitting in frustration. However, if you choose this route, make sure you’ve documented your situation in case you decide to file a lawsuit or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint. Before deciding to leave your job, find out what kind of complaints process your company has in place to see if you can resolve your situation without having to quit.
7. I Have Young Children
According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were about 5.5 million stay-at-home parents in 2004. Most of these parents were stay-at-home moms who opted out of working to raise their kids. Staying home to raise children is a personal choice that each employee has to make based upon his or her circumstances. But for some parents, the decision to stay home could simply be a matter of dollars and cents. If you really want to be home with your children and all the money you’re earning is going to pay for child care, transportation, and other work-related expenses, you may be better off quitting.
Don’t let your emotions keep you from making good decisions about your career. Marching into your boss’s office and announcing your resignation might be a tempting but less-than-prudent action. Take time to carefully evaluate your situation and finances before leaving any job. Then set up a realistic plan of action for getting out of Dodge.
Publish date: March 28, 2008