Career

How to Lose a Job in 10 Days

Ok, so maybe not 10…

…but what if you REALLY want to leave your job…but don’t have another one lined up?

Before you quit, think about losing your job instead.

What does this mean? It means being laid off, and no, that is not the same as being fired.

Being laid off is often a result of restructuring, downsizing, or poor fit. While being fired is almost always for cause (and usually a negative).

But why would you want to be laid off?

  • The financial cushion:
    • In Canada and the United States, when let go  — without cause — you are entitled to severance payments. This means that upon being ‘laid off’ you are provided either your full pay or a certain amount of that pay for a specified period of time.
    • You will also be entitled to Employment Income (EI) depending on your region and number of days worked. This could greatly put your mind at ease when making the decision to finally leave that draining job.
    • You may get your unused vacation days paid. You should get this anyway, but if you quit, there’s no guarantee.
    • You are also more likely to not have to pay back any signing bonuses or training expenses incurred during your time with the organization.
  • Career transition support: I bet you didn’t know that many organizations (especially if you work for a financial institution, large corporation, etc.) pay for career transition support services for those employees who have been laid off. And IT IS WONDERFUL. Probably better than the training and support you are getting under your current job.
  • Most importantly, emotional freedom: if that job is really bringing you down, making the plunge to resign with no future plans can impede you from leaving. Knowing you will be able to leave on good terms and with free time to think about your next move, is priceless.

That being said, engineering your own layoff takes a bit of finesse. You don’t want to be fired for cause, such as performing poorly, acting insubordinate, or anything that may require a HR or human rights complaint. In fact, it is the opposite:

The better an employee you are, the easier it may be for you to negotiation your departure. While some articles believe this makes it harderfor you to engineer your own layoff, I think that it gives you leverage from the past to dictate your future.

So how do you do this?

1. Voice your concerns and come to a mutual agreement with your boss

If you have a relationship built on trust, you may be able to let your superior(s) know you are unhappy. If you do this far enough in advance, they may even try to help by mitigating the issues that are causing you pain at work, or helping you to find a new role in the same organization. If the issue is actually the organization itself, then they may not be able to find a suitable position for you and thus, lay you off regardless.

If the issue is your superior themselves, it gets trickier. Going above their head is not something I would ever encourage someone to do, nor talk to HR. In this case, I would recommend documenting anything that happens (if it is that serious) in the meantime.

2. Request part-time arrangements or a sabbatical

There’s never really a good time to ask for one, and those above you may think you are being foolish with your career. But if you are that emotionally spent, it’s the perfect way to get a break from work. As well, if they really think that you aren’t committed to your work, that’s fine, since you want to get laid off anyway!

3. Use the “It’s not you, it’s me” strategy

Blame the role. The tasks. Your passion for all things outside of whatever career you chose. People are much more forgiving when you have decided something doesn’t align with your values or long-term goals, than if you have personal resentment towards a firm or group of people.

Again, this is about planting seeds of doubt and discontent (professionally) within your manager’s or superior’s mind. They are people who come to work everyday wanting to enjoy themselves. No one wants to work with a debbie downer.

4. Move locations

I have seen this one in action, and it is not as easy as it seems. However, if you are a top performer who has been with an organization for years — it can work. Particularly, if your spouse is moving and you give fair warning. There may be a possibility to negotiate with your employer some terms to help ease the transition.

What should you not do when looking to get laid off? 

  • Underperform to the point that it impacts your reputation
  • Bash your employer publicly or act in an unprofessional manner.
  • Engage in workplace harassment of any kind
  • Show up late or not at all, or disappear for questionable amounts of time (although it may be tempting…)

The bottom line: If things aren’t working out at work and you can line up a new, hopefully more gratifying job without too much time or trouble, then quit and get on with your life. If not, and the writing’s definitely on the wall, the benefits of getting laid off far outweigh the gratification of quitting. That said, be aware that it is a rather tricky process that requires some due diligence and negotiating ability.

As well, it is more than likely that upon being laid off you may be asked to leave the premises immediately. So maybe clean up a bit beforehand (or not…depending on how much you like HR).

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