Most terminations do not happen overnight. Companies have policies and procedures with rules and regulations regarding performance standards. As an employee, your goal should be to do your job well and exceed your managerís expectations. If your performance is lacking or you violate a company policy, you will find yourself on the fast track to termination.
The separation process has multiple steps which allow room for improvement at almost every level. The process begins with simple coaching and counseling to discuss action plans to improve performance. If that does not work, the next step is written disciplinary procedures. Depending on the organization, the progression may go from verbal to one or more levels of formal written documents. Finally, if all else fails, the final step is a recommendation of termination.
Depending on the violation, termination can be immediate. In rare cases, you may be placed on administrative leave while the company goes through the necessary steps to process your separation. It does not matter if you call it termination, separation or fired, it all means the same thing. You are back in the job search market without any income. You will also be faced with the challenge of explaining the reason for separation in your next interview.
Bottom line, the time to correct your performance issues is not when you are being handed your walking papers. If you have reached that point, however, itís time to move into recovery mode to diminish the blemish on your resume. At this point in time you have two viable options.
Resign in lieu of termination. Depending on the reason for the separation, employers will sometimes be lenient. Ask if they would be willing to allow you to resign in lieu of a termination. Some employers agree because it not only cuts down on the paperwork, but they mistakenly believe it will reduce your chances of applying for unemployment. Keep in mind that there are more variables involved when making the determination of unemployment eligibility.
Allowing you to resign may also make it easier for you when interviewing for future jobs. Bear in mind that references will be checked, however, it is easier to explain that the separation was a mutual parting of the ways rather than involuntary expulsion.
Your second option is to accept your termination and handle it with dignity and professionalism. You never know when your paths may cross again. You want your final impression to be a good one. Future jobs will require you to account for your career path. Leaving a job off your resume can be quite noticeable, especially if it creates a sizable gap in employment. The time to make it not happen is before it gets too late. If you do end up getting fired, however, make sure that your exit is professional.