You're chugging along at work despite the fact that the writing seems to be on the wall: You're being excluded from meetings. Your project load is shrinking. There's a ton of upheaval internally, and your management team seems to be slashing positions left and right. Therefore, it's somewhat inevitable that in the coming weeks or months, you, too, will be a victim of layoffs. The question becomes: Should you up and leave on your own terms, or stick around and let your company decide your fate?

There are actually benefits to both quitting a job and waiting to let your employer send you on your way. Here are some to consider.

A professional man carrying a cardboard box filled with a plant and office supplies while walking away from a desk


Why it pays to quit

Sometimes, it pays to leave a job willingly rather than hold off until your company lets you go -- namely, because you might have an easier time selling yourself during the interview process. When workers get laid off, they tend to approach interviews with less confidence, even though they often aren't to blame for their circumstances. But no matter what sort of position you interview for, you can pretty much expect to be asked why you left your last job. And generally, it's more comfortable to state that you made the conscious decision to move on rather than admit that you were let go, even if not for cause.

Along these lines, quitting on your own terms might allow for a smoother transition emotionally. When leave voluntarily, you take control of the situation rather than wind up a victim. And that might help you approach your job search from a place of empowerment rather than desperation.

Why it pays to wait to get laid off

Clearly, there's a pretty good argument for quitting a job that seems to be going downhill rather than anxiously anticipating a layoff. But one thing you need to remember is that when leave a job willingly, you're not entitled to severance pay or unemployment benefits. The latter can really make a difference financially, because in most cases, you can collect up to 26 weeks' worth of unemployment provided you meet the associated criteria. Now your unemployment checks won't replace your former paychecks entirely, but if you're a low to middle earner, they'll do a decent good job of helping you stay afloat. And that's reason enough to wait for your company to let you go rather than jump ship of your own volition.

Not only will having extra income from severance or unemployment benefits help you keep up with your bills while you're out of work, but it might also prevent you from taking the wrong job. Think about it: If you're stressed about money, you might rush to accept the first offer that comes your way. But if you have a little financial breathing room, you can take your time with your search and approach it from a more level-headed perspective.

What's the right call for you?

When it comes to quitting versus getting laid off, there's really no right or wrong answer. Though leaving on your own terms might make you feel better about the situation, you might lose out financially if you go that route.

Speaking of which, your finances should absolutely play a role in your decision. If you have a healthy level of savings, then you may not care as much about forgoing unemployment and severance. On the other hand, if you have little money in the bank and will no doubt struggle to pay the bills once your paychecks disappear, you may be better off letting your company call the shots and snagging some extra cash in the process -- even if it does constitute a blow to your ego.