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Laid Off vs Fired: What’s the Difference?


Are you feeling lost after losing your job? You’re not alone! Career setbacks like being laid off or fired can be discouraging. But fear not; let’s discover the key differences between these situations and how you can bounce back stronger than ever.


Regarding career setbacks, there’s a world of difference between being laid off and getting fired. Understanding these distinctions is vital for regaining control over your professional journey.


What does being “laid off” mean?

Laid off” means losing your job because the employer needs to change how the company operates. It happens when the economy is tough, and the company has to adjust its staff. Some common reasons for being laid off are changes in business, company restructuring, mergers or acquisitions, losing funding for employee salaries, having less work, or downsizing the workforce.

In such cases, employees lose their jobs, not because of something they did wrong. It’s beyond their control and often happens due to external circumstances affecting the company.

What does being “fired” mean?

When someone is fired, it means their employer decides to end their job because of something the employee did wrong. It’s different from being laid off, where it’s not the employee’s fault. When you get fired, it’s usually because of bad behavior or not doing your job well.

Reasons for firing include inappropriate actions or not meeting the employer’s expectations for how the job should be done. It’s a more serious situation, and it’s important to understand the difference between being laid off and being fired.


  •  Reasons for Termination

When someone is laid off, it’s not because of anything they did wrong. It happens because the company faces challenges like limited resources or changes in the business. On the other hand, when someone gets fired, it’s because of their actions. They might have taken too much unapproved time off or not followed company rules.

  • Notice from the Employer

If an employee is not performing well, the employer may give them warnings and a chance to improve through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). But when a company lays off employees, there might not be much warning. The decision is usually final, and employees don’t get a chance to redeem themselves.

  • Compensation for Former Employees

Laid-off employees might receive benefits like severance pay or continued insurance for a short time after losing their jobs. The company may also help them find a new job through outplacement services.

However, fired employees rarely receive severance packages. Additionally, when someone is fired, they usually can’t access unemployment benefits. But if laid off, they may qualify for unemployment benefits to help them during their job search.


Now, after being laid off or fired – What’s Next?

Losing your job can be a very stressful and difficult experience, especially if you have a high-ranking position in the company. Whether you were laid off or fired, it can lead to feelings of pain, anger, and confusion.

If you’ve been let go, you must talk about your feelings with someone you trust, like your spouse, friend, or counselor. Keeping these emotions to yourself can lead to depression. Along with sharing your feelings, consider these steps –

  • Understand the reason for your termination – If you’re unsure why you lost your job, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Knowing the nature of your termination is important, as it can affect your future job opportunities and the benefits you might be entitled to.
  • Check your severance package – A severance package is the compensation and benefits you receive when you leave a job involuntarily. The amount you get depends on how long you work for the company. Note that not all laid-off employees receive severance pay.
  • Collect your final paycheck – Before leaving your workplace, inquire about your last paycheck. Find out when and how you’ll receive it. In some places, employers are required to pay employees immediately after termination. Also, check if you’re entitled to accrued vacations, sick leave, or back pay.
  • Apply for unemployment benefits – If you were laid off due to the company’s fault, you can apply for unemployment benefits. In some states, you can do this online, over the phone, or by mail. Applying online is usually the fastest method.
  • Ask for references – Whether you were fired or laid off, request a letter of recommendation, especially if it was a company-wide layoff. Also, inquire about how the company plans to handle reference requests about your employment. Will they only share dates of employment or disclose that they fired you?
  • Start your job search and prepare for interviews – Once you’ve dealt with the necessary paperwork and details from your previous job, begin searching for a new one. Learn to create an excellent resume, CV, and other job application materials. Research common interview questions and how to answer them.

What to Say If You’re Laid Off?

If you’re asked why you left your previous job in a job interview, it’s best to be honest and straightforward. Layoffs are common in many businesses, and there’s no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about discussing it.

You can simply say, “I was laid off,” or “The company went through layoffs, and my position was eliminated.” Avoid using the word “terminated” as it might imply that you were fired, which is not the message you want to convey to potential employers.

What to Say If You’ve Been Fired?

If you were fired, it’s essential to take ownership of your mistake and explain your steps to avoid it happening again. However, there are certain things you should avoid mentioning to your interviewer, such as having difficulties with your boss and frequent fights. Talking about these issues might make you appear to have an ongoing attitude problem, and you want to avoid that impression.


So, these are the differences between being Laid off & Fired! Following the tips after facing such an issue, remember to be strategic in communicating and how you explain yourself. The key is to be honest about the past while highlighting what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from the experience. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects, focus on how you’ve improved and are committed to being a valuable asset to your team.

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