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Quitting your job instead of waiting for your employer to terminate you gives you control over the timing of the process. You may be able to give two to four weeks notice rather than being asked to leave the building immediately. A resignation may also look better on your resume and is easier to explain to a future employer than a firing. However, voluntarily leaving your job does bring some disadvantages, so consider all of your options carefully before turning in a resignation letter.
Most states do not pay unemployment benefits if you voluntarily resign from a job. You may be better to hold out until your employer terminates you if you can stand the working conditions. The company may make it unpleasant for you to remain at work in an attempt to get you to resign. It may not make a difference if you think you will be terminated for cause because this will disqualify you from receiving benefits in most states anyway. However, if you can prove that you were forced to quit because of intolerable working conditions, you may be able to claim a constructive dismissal and receive benefits as if you were laid off.
A resignation letter may forfeit your right to file claims for inappropriate behavior in the workplace, such as sexual harassment or discrimination. If you believe you might have a valid cause of action, consult a lawyer before deciding whether to resign. Language in the letter stating that you enjoyed your time at the company or working with a particular person may imply that there were no substantial problems during the term of your employment.
Check the terms of your employment contract for any provisions related to resignation. You may be required to pay back a bonus or sales commission if you voluntarily leave the company before a specified date. There may be a provision to pro-rate your bonus for the portion of the year you remained employed with the company. You may also be entitled to a severance package if you are involuntarily terminated, which you would forfeit by resigning.
Future Job Prospects
It can hurt your ability to get jobs in the future if you resign on bad terms. Do not include angry or inappropriate language in your resignation letter or a voice mail message that could be used against you later. You want to be able to use your former employer as a reference whenever possible. Consider your career history when deciding whether it is the right time to quit. Too many jobs in a short period of time can make you look unreliable to potential employers.
Denise Sullivan has been writing professionally for more than five years after a long career in business. She has been published on Yahoo! Voices and other publications. Her areas of expertise are business, law, gaming, home renovations, gardening, sports and exercise.