Let Go vs. Fired: Definitions and Tips To Move Forward

Employees who are let go can receive severance pay from a company. This means the business provides an extension of employee wages for a certain period after their job is terminated. Employees who are fired typically do not receive any pay extension and are just compensated until the date of their job loss.

Fired. Laid Off. Let Go. What’s the Difference? | JobSearchTV.com

What does it mean to be fired?

A person’s performance or personal conduct may result in termination from a job. Employers may notify you of undesirable behaviors and attempt to change your behavior with you before terminating your employment. However, if you are still unable to comply with their demands, it’s likely that your employment will be terminated. Due to improper behavior, you might occasionally lose your job without warning in some circumstances.

Following are some reasons why employees may be fired from their jobs:

Unmet performance expectations

Employers will probably hold you to specific company standards once they have outlined their expectations and policies for your position during the hiring and onboarding process. Your employment may be terminated if you don’t live up to those expectations.

Underperforming job results

You might be required to meet specific quotas and sales projections for some positions, particularly in sales and marketing. You could lose your job if you don’t comply.

Unprofessional conduct

Your employer may decide to terminate your employment with the company if you behave in a way that is inappropriate for the workplace.

Illegal actions

Theft of company property or other illegal behavior at work are reasons to terminate employment.

What does it mean to be let go?

When a company uses the term “let go” to describe a job termination, it means that you are being let go due to company needs rather than poor job performance on your part. It is a business choice that may have an impact on your position, the jobs of many people, or even entire departments.

A company may fire an employee for any of the following reasons:

Mergers and acquisitions

Staff changes are frequently made when a business is acquired by another or combines with another. These changes can eliminate redundant positions. Typically, newly acquired employees are fired while those with more seniority or who work for the parent company keep their jobs.


To increase profits and provide current and potential customers with better service, a business may decide to downsize. Additionally, businesses that are too diversified from time to time may decide to sell off or eliminate certain aspects of their operations.

Financial trouble

During economic downturns, businesses might experience financial difficulties. They might be unable to cover payroll, production costs, or debts. Some employees may be let go in order to maintain the business.


The organizational structure of a company may occasionally change to reflect evolving business trends or executive decisions. This may entail relocating, combining, or eliminating specific positions in order to change job responsibilities.

Let go vs. resigned

Different circumstances arise when one resigns from a job as opposed to being fired or laid off. You can voluntarily terminate your employment with a company by resigning from your position. Even though it is your decision to leave a job, you typically lose the right to receive severance pay from the employer unless you have a prior arrangement such as an early retirement.

When you decide to resign, you typically inform your employer of the length of time you will be able to hold the position. You might be able to agree to a longer notice period than the typical two weeks that most employers request from employees. When you inform some employers that you intend to quit your job, they might ask you to leave your position sooner.

Let go vs. fired

In terms of benefits and how you prepare for your next job, getting laid off or let go from a job differs from getting fired. Companies may offer severance pay to fired employees. This indicates that after an employee’s employment is terminated, the company extends their wages for a set amount of time. Employees who are fired typically are only paid until the date of their job loss and do not receive any pay extensions.

Another major difference between being let go vs. being fired is your eligibility for unemployment benefits. Unless they can demonstrate that the reason for termination was unfounded, fired employees typically have a harder time receiving unemployment compensation. Once they submit a claim, fired employees are qualified to receive unemployment benefits.

Employees who are fired may also be rehired if the business recovers from a financial setback or reinstates some positions. When fired, it’s unlikely that the same employer will rehire you.

Severance pay explained

When a company offers benefits to a worker after they leave their position, the term “severance pay” is used. Although it is not required by law, employers may choose to give severance to terminated or let go employees in order to maintain goodwill toward the business or as part of company policy.

When a company verbally promises to pay severance to an employee, they have to keep their word. Usually, these benefits are paid all at once and are considered taxable income. Depending on your position within the organization and the circumstances surrounding your job loss, you might be able to negotiate the terms of a severance package.

A severance package can include any of the following:

How to address why you were fired or let go with an employer

Here are some methods for discussing your termination or release with a potential employer:

1. Provide minimal details

If you’ve been fired, be upfront about it, but don’t go into too much detail. When applying, you can use the words terminated or discharged to describe being let go. If that’s what happened, the terms “laid off” or “let go” are also appropriate.

Use the interview as an opportunity to briefly discuss the details of your termination. Make it clear how you intend to use the mistakes you made to improve yourself if you were fired due to poor behavior. If you were fired, you can elaborate on your previous employment and the cause of your dismissal.

2. Explain gaps in your employment

It’s a good idea to be upfront about the reason you have a gap in employment if your job search has lasted more than a month or two. Your potential employer might assume things about the time between jobs if you don’t say anything. Provide employers with a clear justification that also demonstrates your progress.

When you update your resume, you can explain gaps by mentioning in a summary statement that you are actively looking for work. You can use comparable language in your cover letter to discuss this circumstance. Be ready to elaborate on your time between jobs if you move on to the interview stage.

3. Keep your emotions neutral

As you interview for a new job, remain composed and avoid displaying any negative or bitter emotions, regardless of what may have happened at your previous job. Even though you may have made mistakes in the past, you can convince employers that you are a responsible and logical job candidate by maintaining a neutral tone.

Say, for instance, that you regret not living up to your supervisor’s expectations, but that you are committed to working hard to make goals and meet deadlines or sales quotas in your new position, as opposed to stating that you were fired because your boss was unreasonable and demanding.

Tips for job searching after you’re fired or let go

Following a job loss, consider the following suggestions to aid in your job search:

Renew your resume

Take the time to update your resume after being let go or fired to reflect your new employment. You don’t need to include it on your resume if you worked for the new company for a brief period of time. Make your contributions to the company evident in your experience section if you worked there for a significant period of time before being let go.

Start your job search right away

When you are unemployed and may have severance pay to cover your expenses for a while, it can be tempting to take some time off, but it is preferable to start looking for a new job as soon as possible. It is best to start your search as soon as possible because the application and interview process for a company can take several weeks.

Use your connections

It’s time to communicate with these networks if you’ve been in the business long enough to develop relationships with clients and colleagues on a professional level. Consult your contacts to see if they are aware of any job openings that match your qualifications. Even if you must accept a job that isn’t a perfect match for your skills, it might be the beginning of a new career path and open up more opportunities in the future.

Stay positive

Keep your sights set on securing a superior position with a new employer. Consider new growth options. Perhaps you’ve always considered returning to school or beginning a new career in a different field. Work to overcome the difficulty of identifying your career’s next step

Questions you can ask your employer if you’re let go or fired

Here are some inquiries you can make after being fired from a job to help you determine what to do next:

Ask for more information about your job loss

While employers are not required to provide a reason for terminating your employment, they can specify whether you are being let go or fired. As you prepare to apply for unemployment benefits and conduct job interviews, precise language is crucial.

Ask about benefits

If you lose your job, you can inquire with your employer about how benefits like unused vacation time and 401(k) rollovers are handled. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are aware of when you will receive your final paycheck from the company, regardless of whether you are fired or laid off.

Ask how your employer will handle inquiries

You might also want to find out how management intends to respond to inquiries about your employment in the future depending on your relationship with them. While some employers will only verify your length of employment, others will be willing to provide glowing testimonials about your work ethic. It is reasonable to inquire if your former boss will serve as a reference if you are fired or laid off as you look for work elsewhere.


Is it better to be fired or laid off?

Being laid off entails losing your job as a result of adjustments the business has made. When you are fired, as opposed to being laid off, the employer believes that your actions are what led to the termination. You didn’t necessarily do anything wrong if you were fired.

What does it mean when you are let go from a job?

If you were fired, it meant that the business had terminated your employment for reasons unique to you. Some businesses may also refer to this as “terminated.” Being laid off, on the other hand, means that the company eliminated your position without any of your fault, for strategic or financial reasons.

Can I say I was laid off if I was fired?

Employees who are laid off may later be eligible for rehire, unlike those who are fired. In both cases you have been terminated. This is a term that is used to indicate that you have left your job, but it is neutral and does not specify whether you were fired, laid off, or retired.

Does termination mean fired?

What Does Being Terminated Mean? An employee who has been terminated means they were fired by their employer. The voluntary or involuntary termination signifies that employment ends.

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