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Should You Ever Ask to Be Laid Off?

Topics: Career Advice

Sometimes, your dream job doesn’t turn out so dreamy. Your work grows more and more monotonous and unchallenging, you become increasingly frustrated with the people with whom you work, and you feel stuck in your career. The best course of action is usually to start a job search, but looking for work can feel like an additional full-time job. Depending on your company’s circumstances, however, you might have another option: asking to be laid off. Before you try to wrangle you way into a buyout, consider your options.

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Image Credit: Xochi Romero/Unsplash

Benefits of Getting Laid Off

Sure, getting laid off can be a much better option than being fired or quitting. For one thing, you can usually collect unemployment if you get laid off — you (typically) cannot if you are fired or you quit. Additionally, employers usually offer some sort of severance package when they lay off employees, depending on the financial situation of the company at the time. However, it’s usually the employer that initiates layoffs, not the employees themselves, so requesting to be laid off is a pretty brazen move that could result in you looking selfish and ungrateful to your employer.

Who Benefits?

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Generally speaking, the time to broach the subject is when a layoff is already looming. In this scenario, you and your employer benefit equally. You get to move on without sacrificing unemployment, and they get to save on your salary and benefits, and avoid laying off an employee who still wants to be there.

In all other situations, you’re essentially asking for a favor. Your employer is not only losing an employee (albeit an unhappy, unmotivated employee) and having to spend money to hire and train someone new, but they’re going to have to pay you unemployment on top of that.

Some Exceptions to the Rule

With that said, there are a few exceptions to requesting a layoff rather than quitting (or being fired). For instance, if you have a close, trusting relationship with your superiors at work, then you’re probably more comfortable having an open and honest conversation about your current situation and your potential options — but this is still no guarantee things will go your way. Likewise, if you know that the company isn’t doing well financially and word has gotten around that there could potentially be a round of layoffs in the near future, then you could start planting the seed that you’re willing to “sacrifice” your job and take one for the team.

The Big “What If”

Here’s the kicker: What if your employer says no? Again, there’s no guarantee that your employer will agree to your request to be laid off, but that’s the risk you take in this situation. If your employer does happen to say no, then you’ll have to deal with an offended boss/employer who knows you’re disengaged and probably actively seeking other opportunities elsewhere — and that’s an awkward situation to be in. What’s worse, being honest about your request to be laid off could wind you up canned soon after, so be mindful of the many potential risks involved.

Final Thoughts

The best thing to do when you find yourself wanting to leave your dead-end job is to update your resume and start actively (yet secretly) hunting for a new job. This way, you can collect your usual paycheck and not cause yourself undue financial hardship by getting laid off or quitting before you have another opportunity lined up. You also don’t have to worry about ruining your chances of a positive referral from your current employer if and when you find a new opportunity. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile and play it safe by going about switching jobs/careers the old-fashioned way.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you asked to be laid off? If so, how did it go? Share your experience with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Carla B.
Carla B.

I totally agree! Many years ago, I requested a lay-off because I got married and had to relocate out of state to be with my husband. It was granted. It saved them money. I was a senior staff which meant they could possibly replace me with someone at an entry level status.


I’ve been considering this scenario. I’m thinking about retiring. My company has seemingly perpetual, semi-annual budget “challenges” that inevitably are met in part with some sort of small or medium headcount reduction or “rationalization” of business lines staffing. I would certainly be open to a layoff with the severance I’m entitled to. I think I may suggest to my immediate supervisor that if he has to reduce headcount, he should give me the option to be part of the layoff… Read more »

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