How to Get Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide

By Paul Michael on 23 October 2009 (Updated 9 February 2010) 80 comments

It seems ironic in this economy, and with a high unemployment rate, that anyone would want advice about getting kicked from a job. But last week a question was posed to me, and it was genuine — “How do I get laid off?”

When I dug below the surface of the question, I realized that the person in question was just done with the job (like this), but didn’t want to quit outright. Instead, being laid off was a more favorable option, with reasons including severance pay, vesting for stock options, contractual obligations, and a much more fitting job opening up soon in another company. Some people even call this the “no job vacation.”

In this obviously rare situation, quitting is not ideal. Being laid off is a better solution, but believe it or not, being let go or even “fired” can be difficult if you’ve been doing everything right. You need to change the dynamic. As someone so tactfully explained to me, it’s like purposely acting like a jerk in a relationship so that the other person breaks up with you.

So, if you’re in the awkward position of looking for a way out of your current job, here are some tips I have received from different industry professionals and HR websites that give you a way out without destroying your career. Some are perfectly ethical, others, well you decide for yourself.

To start with, the ethical list:

1. First and foremost, check in with HR to see what kind of severance pay and other benefits your company offers. You need to know where you stand.

2. If all looks well, let HR know that you’d volunteer to take redundancy if there was downsizing at the company. Not only are you making life a whole lot easier for HR, you’re also planting the seed that you’re not 100% committed to the job.

3. Let other people take credit for your good work. And, adversely, you can take some of the blame for projects that went wrong. Even if you weren’t actually working on it, people love a scapegoat.

4. Nurture your own replacement. If you see a bright, shining star with serious ambition, you can let everyone know that they’re perfect for your role. A few comments here and there like “wow, that Brian kid is one amazing worker…he’s even teaching me a thing or two, and I earn way more than him!” OK, well choose your own words, but you get the idea.

5. Start using up your remaining vacation time. This is free money and it’s also a good way to get noticed for being absent a lot.

6. Have a computer? It’s time to become a web surfer. Employers really don’t like you using the Internet at work to do your shopping and watch movie trailers. Don’t be blatant about it, but if Ebay is on the screen whenever your boss walks by, it won’t make you look like employee of the month.

7. Sleep at your desk during your breaks. Not every day, but dozing off once in a while can certainly help you stand out as a mediocre employee. If you don’t have a desk, use the break room or another public place. Remember, there’s nothing that says you can’t take a nap during your breaks…it just doesn’t look great.

8. Renegotiate your salary. It’s usually a delicate subject but now, you have nothing to lose. It can give you the confidence to ask for more and you may just get it, giving you a reason to stay. If you have a new job offer, why not take the terms you received at your new job and ask your old job if they will match it?

9. Look into employee benefits and start asking thoughtful, insightful questions. For instance, why doesn't your company have a day care program? What’s the paternity leave policy? Can I get reimbursement for professional conferences? Start circulating this discussion among other employees. At the very least, you will stand out as a hero to them and, possibly, a thorn in the side of HR.

10. Start enjoying every available company perk. If you have employee discount programs, use them often and in large amounts. If you get reimbursed for further education, take lots of classes.

11. Talk enthusiastically about additional education and training in a field completely unrelated to your job. For example, if you work at a tech company, talk about how excited you are about getting your new real estate license.

12. The most important rule, and the simplest: Do the minimum. Be less than you can be. You should never be exceeding expectations if you’re looking for a pink slip. As I heard once, “she had delusions of mediocrity.” So should you. This is a surefire way to place your head on the layoff chopping block, and when used with another tip from above, it could get you the pink slip and severance package you’re looking for.

Now, I also got a whole lot more tips that were phrased as “more sketchy” ways to get laid off or fired. I would say some of them are unpleasant, others just plain rude. I would also say that this is a list of things you should avoid in your quest for the pink slip. This may get you fired, but you don't want to burn a bridge completely that may affect your career later down the road.

13. Take a look at the code of conduct for your office and begin to bend a few rules, or even break them. Start to mess around with the dress code. Play your music a little louder.

14. Create your own, more flexible hours. Turning up five minutes late, taking longer lunch breaks and leaving early shows a nice lack of commitment.

15. Redirect your efforts to the wrong places. Spend 8 hours on a pointless task that should take 30 minutes. Rush a job that needs more attention. You’re still doing your job, but you’re doing it poorly.

16. Get noticed for all the wrong reasons. If you have a lot of meetings to go to, don’t feel afraid to make comments that are completely inane or make no sense at all. You can also say nothing, and spend the whole meeting doodling and staring out of the window. Put you phone on extra-loud and get people to call you all day. Let your appearance go, stop brushing your hair, allow a stain or two to appear on your shirts.

17. Be annoying. A great way to do this is to start cornering people with pointless questions that are a waste of time. Spend 10 minutes discussing something that should take 10 seconds. Ask the most obvious questions that you should already know the answers to. Hang around in the coffee room and start long conversations. When people start to avoid you, you’re on your way.

18. Become the biggest naysayer in history. Now, every idea is a bad idea. Nothing will work. The coffee tastes bad. The boss sucks. No one wants to work with someone so negative, and it puts you at the top of the lay-off pile.

19. Stop smiling. Be miserable. Act depressed. Remove yourself from conversations. Use one word answers. If you can’t annoy people with your loud music and silly comments, you can get under their skin by being about as much fun as a funeral.

20. Start forgetting things. Small things, big things, just have a memory like a cargo net. From meetings you should be at, to vital tasks, this is another surefire way to raise the red flag that your time has come.

21. Interrupt people, often, and with nothing more to add. That guy who keeps butting in when you’re talking, only to basically repeat what you just said, well maybe he’s looking for a way out of the door.

22. Memorize a bunch of useless quotes and start repeating them whenever possible, especially if they’re out of context. You can make quite an impression in a meeting if you’re asked for projected sales figures and instead come back with “Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.”

23. Send emails “accidentally” to the wrong people, revealing facts and figures that should not have been revealed. If the boss gets an email from you that was clearly meant for someone else, and the contents are less than flattering, that will certainly be a red mark against you. You can also send pointless or personal emails to the whole company instead of just friends, like a funny youtube video or your own ad for a garage sale.

24. Be messy. Stop cleaning up after yourself in the break room. Miss the trash can when you throw things away. Leave your office or cubicle looking like the aftermath of a twister. Untidy is one thing. Being a slob is quite another.

25. Use the office equipment for personal use, including job searching (obviously not the actual one you’re going to). It may even be prudent to leave your resume in the photocopier. And make plenty of personal calls, preferably talking loudly while doing so.

26. Do not keep secrets. If the boss tells you something private and personal, and asks you to keep your mouth shut, you may want to let that one slip out.

27. Start parking in the reserved spots. It will really bug those people who think a reserved car parking spot is important, and they will most likely be in charge.

28. Become a prankster on a daily basis. Whoopee cushions under chairs in the meeting rooms. Fart gas. Glue on the phones. Once is enough, but when you keep doing it you become a disruptive pain.

So there you have it; some advice to follow, and even more advice to avoid. Do you have any more tips? Do you think anyone trying to get laid off is just asking for trouble? Let us know. And remember, this is not advice for most of us — just the few people who desperately want an exit strategy.

Additional photo credits: The Stock Exchange, The Stock Exchange
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Guest's picture
Jerry

I do not like getting laid off because making the insurance cobra payments are a real burden for my family. If you are a real jerk and it leads to getting fired it's almost an easier option with unemployment, etc.
Jerry

Guest's picture
Guest

Why would anyone want to be laid off? I was laid off in February and I would have done anything to stay at my job that I loved. This economy is terrible and I cannot find another job. It really sucks being unemployed in this economy... I would not wish this on anyone.

Guest's picture
Dick

I would love to get laid off. I just turned 62 and can now collect Social Security. I would get severance pay and over a year of unemployment. The company would also pay 65% of my COBRA insurance for nine months. I wouldn't have to touch mny retirement nest egg for over a year. What a great way to ease into retirement. I realize this is an unusual situation but.....

I volunteered but didn't get selected for the layoffs. I can't see doing most of the things suggested in the article though. If you are accepting a paycheck you need to earn it--no goofing off.

Guest's picture
Guest

"If you are accepting a paycheck you need to earn it--no goofing off."

why?

Guest's picture
Phrank

Why would anyone want to be laid off you ask? Maybe because layoffs have reduced staff by 20 or 30% and those who remain have to do a lot of extra work now?

Also, it could be that you've saved up enough money to be able to last for a year or two without working but you'd like to also get the benefits of being laid off (The gov pays 65% of your COBRA for the first 9 months IIRC based on a bill that was passed soon after Obama became pres) that you won't get if you quit or are fired.

Oh, and the problem with many of the suggestions presented in this article is that they could easily get you fired instead of laid off - and that would be worse than just quitting outright. Companies are trying to find every excuse possible to fire instead of laying off right now because it's a lot cheaper - no severance pay, no continued health benefits for a few months, less they have to pay in unemployment premiums.

The company where I work tried this back in the Spring: everything was great with your performance one week and then the next week people were called into the bosses office and told of their screwups going back a couple of years (stuff that had been considered water under the bridge) and then told that they'd better shape up or face "disciplinary action". Of course, what management was doing was preparing a paper trail to cover their rear ends so they could fire some folks and not have to lay them off. Fortunately, that hasn't happened (yet) - I suspect that management looked into the abyss early in the year and feared the worst. The problem, with this kind of action by management, though, is that it poisons the well. As soon as the economy picks up again and people feel that they can find a job elsewhere, they will.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've been laid off before and it is awful...BUT my current job is slowly sucking the life out of me because my boss makes me cry and is slowly crushing my soul. Hence why I would actually want to be laid off at this point. Great tips! I think I'll try a few.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can give you several reasons why people want to get laid off...As of my reasons this is why....I have never been laid off, and because of my previous work history, I would actually come out ahead money wise, my benefits here suck the insurance is so bad more than half the places where I live do not take it, and if they do the cost is still outrageous that in the end I am better off not having it. The company I work for is a slow sinking ship that they just tug along, it should have closed a long time ago. I search for a different job every single day, and I mean every single day. I started here as a favor for family, but in the end, it was never worth it. And all the above ideas to get laid off, I have done them all. Hell this place actually keeps people around and gives them raises to people who actually do that stuff but what do you expect when the boss is lit half the time, and the other ones can't even figure that out!!....I gotta get out of here!! So yea getting laid off is my only option..Turn them in? I can't remember the family comment! I can go on for hours, but in the jist of it, one would think I could find better employment in GA, but I have tried, so please someone give me that "pink" slip...PLEASE!!

Guest's picture
Chris C

I'm planning on moving out of the State in a few months, and would honestly prefer to be laid off so that in the case that I don't find a job right away I can still get unemployment benefits to help cover my living expenses until I find a new job. I'm 100% hoping to find a job within my first week in the new state, and do have some money saved but it would make the move a whole lot less stressful.

Paul Michael's picture

but the reasons are clearly outlined in the article. As you loved your job, your situation obviously did not apply. But there are some people looking for a way out, for many reasons that are highlighted. Did you read the article, or just the title?

Guest's picture
croatian

Paul, I have read your articles for quite sometime now, and used to enjoy your writting style. Notice I said USED to. I have been avoiding your articles for 2 months now, but read this one not looking to see who wrote it. It just seems to me you are suffering from job burn-out. Your rude reply of: did you even read the article? DOWN RIGHT uncalled for. I don't know if you have problems in your personal life, but I think your posts belong in another forum, not Wisebread.

Financial Samurai's picture

Paul,

You've provided many useful tips. The easiest thing to do though, is simply ask your manager and HR person about what exit strategies one has to leave the firm, and keep as much deferred compensation as possible.

It's not worth trying to play gains and risk being going from laid off to fired, b/c getting fired is a black mark, while getting laid off is not.

Just have open dialogues. It's the easiest way.

Keigu,

Financial Samurai
"Slicing Through Money's Mysteries"

Guest's picture

I don't see how it isn't a black mark. Sure people may be more understanding, but if you get laid off, it means that of all the people a company felt were important to their business you were not one of them.

Guest's picture
Jay

I had the same dilemma. I wanted to get laid off for ages, so I could stay home with my kids. I couldn't do any of the things you listed though, it just isn't in my makeup to do a bad job. I kind of knew that even if there were layoffs, I wasn't going to be the first to go. After months of waiting, I finally just decided to go ahead and quit. Just quit!

Guest's picture
fairydust

I went through this. We were in the midst of a mandatory downsizing anyway and I was so very over my job (having stayed probably 4 years too long). So I basically asked to be included in the RIF when I was done helping management RIF all the other people tagged to go. I most likely would've quit anyway at that point, but I admit that the air of 'severance package' floating around the offices was an added enticement, and it gave DH and I a buffer while he looked for work and I got a home-based business up and running.

Guest's picture
Jim

I had a coworker years ago who had been burned out at work and wanted to leave. He wanted to change careers and just 'get out'. He would have loved to be laid off since he'd have gotten severance and unemployment benefits. Depends on the company but here at least they wouldn't lay off someone just cause they asked unless they were doing layoffs anyway. If they know you want to quit they have no incentive to fork over severance for someone who would leave anyway. My friend in question couldn't bring himself to do a bad job to force them to lay him off so he just ended up quitting.

Guest's picture
Guest

Regardless of the situation or how you go about it, doing a poor job just to get laid off seems unethical to me.

Guest's picture
Erik

Good stuff. Sarcasm always speaks to me! Included it in my PF blog round-up for the week

Guest's picture

Fun article. I'm self-employed, so can you write an article to address how I get me to lay myself off?

Guest's picture
Caleb

The majority of these suggestions mean turning into a complete douchebag. Even if I want out of a company and I'm looking to reap whatever benefits come out of getting fired, I'd still rather my colleagues consider me a good employee. One suggestion for keeping the respect of peers, not coming off as a tool, and grinding management's gears:

Become very vocal about what you think the company is doing wrong or could do better. Do you think your company's flagship software is a pile of crap? Give suggestions. Give them to anybody who will listen. Give them to people far, far up the org chart or in distributed emails. If whatever you are complaining about is valid, chances are a lot of others are thinking the same thing. Seriously, don't try to commit personal workplace suicide, commit POLITICAL workplace suicide.

Guest's picture

ROFL @ title for the first comment... Not sure if it's showing up for anyone else like this, but for me it's "I do not like getting laid."

Sorry, long day at work.... :P

Guest's picture
Paul

I had a system admin job where I actually worked about 30 minutes in a 40 hour work week. Literally. I had automated the tasks to do it all and alert me if there was trouble. It was horrible to sit there day after day, year after year, but the pay was too good. I tried to get laid off and was told my job was essential. I tried to find a walk in replacement and was told all candidates were not skilled enough. Finally I quit with retirement benefits. My replacement now struggles with the stunning boredom I left behind.

Guest's picture
Guest

"The stunning boredom I left behind"

Thanks for my big laugh of the day!!

Guest's picture

Yeah this is a pointless article. Applies to 0.0001% of the population and even to those people it's unethical. Just quit already. This whole "trying to get laid off for years" is crap. For the severance package? What kind of twisted lives are these people leading?

Guest's picture
Guest

This does actually occur more than you think. Living proof, got at $30,000 severance instead of quitting and getting nothing. Did not do anything to get fire but let a few know I was shopping for a new job, company did not like it and got rid of me.

Guest's picture
Jesse

I WANT OUT... My current job requires half a brain and 'some college work preferred but not required' while I have a MBA. My boss is a highly autocratic, the end-all of discussions, micro-manages the entire department and tries to do the same in other departments.

I am in my late twenties, married, have a mortgage, car payment, child, etc, etc, etc and can't afford to quite outright. Unemployment benefits will buy me some time while I find another job more suited to my qualifications.

My last yearly review was based on me exploding into a 15 minute rage about how she is a horrible manager and even spoke out to HR regarding my discontent. What happened? HR is on her while she tries to make my life even more miserable at work by super micro-managing me. At least this has turned into a game! :-) I know I will be the first to go if there is a downsize... I just wish it would be NOW !

Guest's picture
marzone

Pass a lot of gas. Not only does it work, but if you can master it, you can get drinks faster at the bar...

Guest's picture

I believed that most workers who are dreaming to be laid off are burnout from their work.
But still, it is strange to wish to be laid off..

Guest's picture
Guest

This article would have applied to me, but I wouldn't have taken most of this advice. I tried for months to get laid off after we had a round of cutbacks and my job was changed into something I never wanted to do, working ten hour days, and shifted to reporting to an abusive jerk. As well, I was burnt out and wanted to go back to school and change careers. I had been with my company for thirteen years and would have gotten 26 weeks of pay along with several weeks of vacation I hadn't taken.

Doing most of these things, though, would have been unprofessional and as much as I wanted my severance, I also wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror. I did go to HR and since not only are we in an awful economy, my industry is dying due to an old business model in a new media world. They told me they "thought they could help me" but I waited six months and they did not lay me off. Finally, I left with nothing (but, well, I had my dignity).

It's true, no one owes me anything but it was through the original layoffs that my job was combined with someone else's into something that sucked my soul out little by little every day. How I wish they would have laid me off instead of that woman whose job mine was merged with!

I worried for a long time that going to HR was what doomed me, that they knew I wanted to leave and would therefore not waste money on paying me to do so. But after I left, someone was promoted into my job and remains there now, so at least I know they would have held onto my position no matter what I did.

Guest's picture
KEVIN

HOW DO I GET LAID OFF? I MYSELF HAVE STARTED MANY NEW JOBS IN THE PAST FOR TEMPORARY COMPANIES WITH THE ABILITY TO GET HIRED ON FULL TIIME WITH THE COMPANY THAT YOU HAVE BEEN PLACED WITH. SOME COMPANY REQUIRE AS LITTLE AS 90 DAYS AND SOME REQUIRE AS MUCH AS 18 MONTHS WHICH I BELIEVE IS KINDA BS. HOWEVER, THAT BEING SAID I STARTED A JOB THAT REQUIRED ONLY 90 DAYS. I WORKED THE 90 DAYS NOT MISSING A DAY FOR ANYTHING AND ALSO WORKED OVERTIME. I ASKED THE COMPANY WHEN I WAS GOING TO BE HIRED ON AND THEY SAID WE AREN'T HIRING RIGHT NOW, BUT I WAS STILL WORKING THERE. SO I THEN STARTED BRAINSTROMING ON HOW TO GET LAID-OFF TO FIND ANOTHER JOB. SO WHAT I DID WAS I CAME UP WITH CALLING IN SICK EVERY FRIDAY UNTIL THE COMPANY LET ME GO, WOULDN'T YOU BELIEVE THAT IT TOOK 4 WEEKS OF ALWAYS CALLING IN SICK ON FRIDAYS TO GET LAID-OFF. ON THESE FRIDAYS I DIDN'T JUST SCREW OFF I WENT AND LOOK FOR A BETTER JOB AND YES IT DID WORK. SCREW THOSE TEMP SERVICE COMPANIES THEY SCREW EVERYONE THE EMPLOYEE THE MOST, LEGAL SLAVERY

Guest's picture
Kim_Mango

This article is very timely for me!

My employer has gone through 2 rounds of layoffs, leaving way too much work for the rest of us and now very low morale issues.

I have wanted to work for myself for the last five years. I recently took my first freelance writing gig and I enjoy the work so much more than my day job. Maybe because it's fresh and new, or maybe because I'm totally burned out. Not sure. What I do know is my client is happy which makes me happy.

The biggest issue is the medical benefits. Even if I'm eligible for COBRA for 18 months after leaving or gettingn laid off, of which 65% will be paid for for 9 months, I don't have reasonable options after that due to pre-existing medical conditions.

I would take a leap of faith and go out on my own today if there was a solution to the medical insurance.

Best,
Kim

Guest's picture
Ryan J

I'm very disappointed in Wise Bread for posting this article.

Guest's picture
Guest

"Do less" "surf the web". I find many of the suggestions in poor taste as well. If it is a job you want to quit, then quit. I understand the lure of paid time off, but find it abusive.

Using up vacation time or taking advantage of already offered discounts are wise moves. Honestly talking with management about ways the company could realistically improve (such as suggesting daycare) is also good.

Everything else... boo hiss. Pretty sad when people start feeling so entitled that they want to weasel out by doing less so they can get paid for nothing.

Guest's picture
Guest

Many of the thing pointers on the "ethical" list as listed by the author are not so good and can damage one's good name and career reputation. This is because many of those points on the list will show the employee as not worthy of a good reference, and the absence of a good reference means gettiing the next job will be that much harder.

IMHO, if one wants to get laid off, then first determine if the severence amount is worth it, and if it is, then tell management that you'd volunteer when the need arises. To "earn" the position of being laid off through less then great work is to damage one's good name, and ability to receive a good reference.

I'd suggest the author talk to different HR people, because the people he was advised by are dead wrong.

Guest's picture
a

I hope you're feeling better soon. This article just doesn't sound like you (one of my favorite WB writers).

Paul Michael's picture

for anyone who found the article unpleasant. I can assure all of you I'm my usual chipper self! This was an interesting question that was posed to me and thought it would make for a good topic. If I was a little curt with my first response, it was uncalled for. I do get a little peeved when people attack an article without reading it first, but that's no excuse for a short temper. I have something quite fun lined up for my next post.

Guest's picture
Guest

I was recently laid off. On thinking back, I believe I know the real reasons that I was laid off. I have reservations about the financial excuse I was given. In many organizations, what is called "interpersonal relationships" (aka politics and currying favor) is the most important performance criterion. Instead, I chose to do a good job, as thorough as I deemed proper, politely with a professional demeanor. However, I didn't brown nose the self-important managers to the degree they desired. I were laid off. The other people who were laid off at the same time, had the same work ethic and didn't brown nose either. The people who stayed, had their primary focus on pleasing that management. For those who have ethical concerns about some of the ideas above, and still have their reasons for leaving, try to simply do a good job without spending time on currying favor. Certainly being laid off this way depends on managers who are not the best. However, betting on managers who choose not to be the best is frequently a successful bet.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am confused, The things listed seem to be sure fired (ha ha!) ways to get Fired not "laid off". I was under the impression that benefits are hard to get when you have been fired.

Guest's picture
Anne

It depends on why you are fired. If you are fired for cause then you will not get any benefits [I am assuming you mean unemployment, so correct me if I am wrong]. I was 'fired' but my former boss wrote that it was not for cause - he actually wrote that. Then he told unemployment that I made many material mistakes that led to my being fired. Funny, but he always told me what a wonderful job I did and how great an employee I was. And I had it in writing where he said I was just let go 'at will'. It took 6 months [delays in the process], but I did get my unemployment. Sorry for going on, but it feels better to get that out. :)

Guest's picture
Guest

I have been with the same company for 28 years. We have merged again, and they are ruthlessly chopping people, little groups at a time. Think about it, they don't want to tarnish their fortune 500 company image or stocks by headlines of thousands laid off. This company has systematically dismantled an awesome company that is over 100 years old, and a great bunch of people. Those that are left behind are devastated. SO, to all those who ask why would anyone want to be laid off, I say why let the bastards get away with you walking away and they don't have to pay severance or unemployment to peole that have dedicated their lives to this company? NO FREAKIN WAY BABY! and to the others that say getting fired will hinder your job search? Companies no longer give out references, because they are afraid of lawsuits. SO, you won't get anything from being loyal to a company. What is in it for empolyees to remain faithful these days? Companies just don't care about the people anymore

Guest's picture
Anne

I worked with many people who did many of those things. Funny that the workers who had no brains kept their jobs and the ones who thought and spoke for themselves have been let go [me included]. Of course, I hated my job and on one hand am glad, but a year later there are no prospects and money will get tight sooner or later. That, and I believe I have been blacklisted in my community. I would suggest making sure you have a plan in place before getting laid off [whether you try or not].

Working below your ability is not unethical unless you believe it to be. Employers have no problem paying you beneath your ability so sometimes it's just evening things up. Although I heard this saying once and thought it fitting - work for the job you want, not the one you have.

Good post.

Guest's picture
Travis

While this article provided a lot of good info, it also was good for some laughs. Reminds me a lot of my previous office... and maybe that explains why that one guy used to interrupt everyone all the time...

Guest's picture
Guest

thanks for the topic, it is timely.

I agree with those that say that some of the above advises is poor ethics. However, there are some situations, when getting laid-off is more preferable.

Take me for instance. My company has been laying-off people for a while now; meanwhile things been going worse and worse in terms of business, due to a poor performance of owners/principles. The company is still alive only because employees have been working hard, while bosses have been enjoying themselves and acting like nothing happening.

Right now the company has such a large dept that even if we miraculously improve our performance, all profits will go to pay-off the depts. So essentially being laid-off is just a matter of time for me. I lasted longer than others, but there is nobody left less preferable than I am.

The worst thing about this situation is that there is no more enthusiasm about this company; since our bosses let us down so bad. We've been loyal, but right now we lost all respect to our leaders - the wound that will take many years to heal.

BTW, this problem - the lack of respect and trust to our leaders - started long before the crisis. Right now it just got worse as all weaknesses surfaced due to a bad times. I've been with this company long overdue even before 2007.

Unfortunately, there are simply no other jobs in my field whatsoever, as it was one of the few that got affected the most. So, I can't find another job, no matter how hard I try. And I cannot quit - I am a young man who just started his career and just got married and had his first baby, so naturally, there is no money saved.

I am not going to follow most of these advices. I did do some of the mentioned things for a while now even before reading it; not because I intentionally wanted to get myself laid-off, but because I lost my motivation and simply don't care anymore.

So, I am not going to do unethical things that could harm other people, my company and my reputation; but I will wish deep inside that I will be the next.

Guest's picture
Guest

Reading all of the responses, it's clear that everyone's personal situation and experience influences their view and that should be expected. In my case, I've put many years into a business and was instrumental in developing it from nothing to a booming enterprise.

Now after an internal merger, I find myself marginalized by new management and their cronies, working for a jerk in a job I was never hired to do with no prospects of career growth. They still pay me like they did when I was in a more important role, but I'll never see another raise as I'm overpaid for my position due to the change.

They have been laying people off quarter by quarter and are destroying the company I helped built through poor decision making. My only real career move is to go start a business, but it will take years to build up to the income level I enjoy now. A severance gets me a years pay to help me get on my feet while quitting puts me into the great unknown of a start-up with no net. In my case I'd love to find a way to get laid off, but I'm finding this to be difficult. Doing a poor job is so common, it won't get you noticed in this place! I believe the political approach is likely the best as the management is more concerned with how they are perceived than reality..... I'm going down that route now. I'll let you know how it turns out!

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Guest

Most of these suggestions can get you fired, not laid off!

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Tisso

I love this article. lol. I was once in this situation where an internship trapped me into a contract, if i insisted on leaving id have to pay back most of it. That was a finmarkets job. Oh what to do. I did sooome of this stuff, lol. But my fave, was to do a stupid spreadsheet-x to BEYOND perfection. For days. And nothing else. Lord, mega formulas that run in circles, graphs would be 3d from designed on photoshop, stupid things would look FAR better that the banks annual report. I remember they'd wait 4 days for a list of 20 certain hedge funds, metallic presentation as if for God. Lol. You can guess, this indian guy had enough and I was free to pursue my destiny :-).

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Tisso

I love this article. lol. I was once in this situation where an internship trapped me into a contract, if i insisted on leaving id have to pay back most of it. That was a finmarkets job. Oh what to do. I did sooome of this stuff, lol. But my fave, was to do a stupid spreadsheet-x to BEYOND perfection. For days. And nothing else. Lord, mega formulas that run in circles, graphs would be 3d from designed on photoshop, stupid things would look FAR better that the banks annual report. I remember they'd wait 4 days for a list of 20 certain hedge funds, metallic presentation as if for God. Lol. You can guess, this indian guy had enough and I was free to pursue my destiny :-).

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Brigid

I got laid off by being great at what I did.  Sounds weird, but basically I started in an hourly "Coordinator" position, but then took on a lot of added responsibility and basically evolved my role into a management position.  Every year, I got the top pay raise and bonuses.  Life was good and I figured they'd never get rid of me... until the bottom fell out of the economy.

In the end, they couldn't afford me and they found an outsourcing company that probably gave them a bid that was half my salary.  

I thought this article was pretty funny, but I'd be afraid to try half the things (like sleeping at your desk) because you may get fired!  Being kind of a jerk isn't bad, but then you have to work extra hard.  It will drive your boss nuts because he/she hates you, but can't complain to HR about anything you do wrong.

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Guest

Yeah, sleeping on the job will be the go-to excuse for your former employer to not be obligated to pay your unemployment compensation. That BS excuse was used on me in a UC benefits hearing and my benefits were taken away without the slightest bit of evidence against me. The mere mention of the act was enough to convince the state that money could be saved.

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Guest

To add, I wasn't laid off, I was "terminated" and told it was due to budget contraints, as stated in my termination papers. At the end of my hearing, as they didn't have any reason to get rid of me beside the fact they wanted to save money, the manager's last ditch effort was "sleeping" on the job and it worked for them. So I agree with everyone who disagrees with these suggestions, bad idea and will only hurt you in the long run with claiming benefits.

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Gretchen

It's not unreasonable to think that being laid off, or even straight out fired, would be a preferable alternative to quitting in some instances. Take me, for example. I got hired at a company straight out of school that had me sign a 2-year contract guaranteeing my employment for two years. If I break the contract by quitting prior to my 2-year anniversary, I have to pay the company a "training fee" of $7,500 (they say it's to recoup their "investment" in training me.) At this point I'm a little under a year in, and I really hate my job. It's a struggle for me to go into work every morning, and while when I signed the contract I was quite excited about the position and the company, I became very quickly disenchanted when I realize just how little they care about me.

So my dilemma then becomes, do I quit and leave the company on my own terms, $7,500 poorer? Or do I somehow try to get fired, risk taking the potential "black mark" and leave with what little money I've made still in my bank account?

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this is a great way to leave a job if you don't have the guts to quit. :)

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BossesAreEvil

A lot of these methods would probably just get you fired. If you're fired, you will most likely have to fight to even TRY to get unemployment benefits, whereas being laid off guarantees these benefits. Being laid off also looks better when you apply for another job. To some employers it even makes you look stoic, that you've been through it yet keep trudging on. I currently work for a crappy company that had layoffs/firings and now works the remaining employees to death. I have been hoping and praying for a layoff due to stess and them trying to pile on another job/shift. Now my boss seems to be building a case to fire me instead. I do good work and they basically have nothing on me except nit-picking about hours, etc. I will be meeting with HR to discuss these issues because I want to clear my good name. If I'm going to be let go, I want it to be because of downsizing, not being fired.

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Curious

Its interesting that I found such an article on the web. I guess its not just me who thinks like this ! Its not that I hate my job, but getting laid off (atleast in this economy) seems like an easy way out to get a temporary break from the rat race and explore new opportunities and discover myself.

Though I don't hate my job, I dont love it either. Maybe a few months off without worrying too much about the bills will let me do things I've always wanted to and find something I can wake up to with a smile on my face!

Great article, things I have been thinking about as well though some items are doable, others can get a little messy atleast if you want to leave with a good reference. I guess you have to play your cards accordingly...

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Guest

I wanted out of my job, but i was too good. I couldnt find it in me to do bad but i really wanted out. I had a lot of money saved, single, no kids, live in a beautiful place with super cheap rent... so yea, im cooked. I quit, yet i was so good, that they gave me unemployment anyway.

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Guest jungel

Im on the same page buddy. I just dont do any extra and hopefully i can get laid off. good luck to you!

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Guest

I'm in a situation we're i wouldn't mind being laid off. It's happened to me before and for once in my working life I was happy. During my time off I actually used my time to do the things I enjoy and explored things that i never have.

Now I'm in a situation where my job is horrible, my bosses are petty ego maniacs who think ever job is so imporant and above all else where were bought out and merged in with a new company.

I would never follow most of the advice in the article. The advice you need to follow is this.

1. Still do a good job. If you don't who is going to hire you later on.

2. Don't kiss the butt of your bosses, matter of fact be a recluse or anti-social. Act like you're Don Draper and that anything personal needs to be a mystery. If your boss asks how your weekend was. Just leave it at "fine" and show no interest in theirs or their interests. Fact is people who have a better relationship with their boss, genuine or not are more likely to stick around.

3. Make sure you department needs some trimming. If yours does and another department needs help, ask to help with the other department. That seems counterproductive to your goal of being laid off but it isn't. It allows the people you leave behind in your original department to master their job without you.

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Guest

I'm in a situation we're i wouldn't mind being laid off. It's happened to me before and for once in my working life I was happy. During my time off I actually used my time to do the things I enjoy and explored things that i never have.

Now I'm in a situation where my job is horrible, my bosses are petty ego maniacs who think ever job is so imporant and above all else where were bought out and merged in with a new company.

I would never follow most of the advice in the article. The advice you need to follow is this.

1. Still do a good job. If you don't who is going to hire you later on.

2. Don't kiss the butt of your bosses, matter of fact be a recluse or anti-social. Act like you're Don Draper and that anything personal needs to be a mystery. If your boss asks how your weekend was. Just leave it at "fine" and show no interest in theirs or their interests. Fact is people who have a better relationship with their boss, genuine or not are more likely to stick around.

3. Make sure you department needs some trimming. If yours does and another department needs help, ask to help with the other department. That seems counterproductive to your goal of being laid off but it isn't. It allows the people you leave behind in your original department to master their job without you.

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Guest

I agree. As much as I want to be a jerk at work I do have self respect. However, my job has to be the best paying and worst ethically in my area. The funny thing is no one 'knows' what the company really does until you are far into it and then you are stuck. Payday loans and porn marketing. Yea. I would not have APPLIED there if I had known. I can't afford to quit yet it is making me sick to stay. I am not a conservative religious person but I do have standards. If I wanted to market porn I would work for Vivid.

I would give anything t get out and it does nto help when the head of HR is your boss. So many unethical business practices. Thank them for spam text messages...

Unstable with people being let go left and right and everyone walks around with clone smiles on their faces ignoring the huge fat elephant in the room and patting their fat wallets.
Makes me ill. SOS.

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Guest

I have been doing most of these steps for 5-6 years and this hasn't work me or any of my other co-workers who want to get laid off. We've gotten to the point where we've even told our boss that we want to be laid off. So can you please come up with a better list???

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Guest

this is great! i love the ethical versus the avoid lists! sometimes people really do want to be laid off, even in the current economy for reasons many of you might or might not understand, but for those who do, this is a great list to start from. i dont think Paul is suffering from burnout or looking to get laid off himself, he is answering a very genuine question, a question i was very seriously asked recently and had no good reply to!

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crash

I rather liked this article, taking it as more tongue in cheek sarcasm than actual advice. I guess i have been lucky in that while i have been laid off from just about every company I've ever worked for ( save for the current one, obviously, but there is still time for that to happen) I've always ended up in a better situation than I was in the one before it. Conversely, not a single one of those companies is still around.

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Guest

I'm so glad I came across this article. I've been miserable at my job for well over a year. There were a few months during which I even contemplated suicide b/c I felt so trapped and helpless (the endless 12-14 hr days, and working most weekends and some holidays, didn't help). I knew I was destroying myself, though I still wanted to do my job and not makes things worse by doing a wretched job and then fearing getting fired. But the unhappiness and irritability took their toll (esp. with rude, cold, arrogant characters to deal with), and my performance started to flag - how could it not when my heart was no longer in anything I did in or out of the office? My job was/is pure hell and I started looking for a new opportunity months ago. With this economy, the search for something better is taking time, but something promising is in the works. And, lo and behold, my current employer has, in the meantime, realized that there is a mutual interest in parting ways. But rather than firing me, my employer is good with my staying on for a number of months longer, or leaving when I find a new job (they are giving me this flexibility b/c they actually really like me as a person). While a part of me is sad about it, I also realize that this may be the best outcome I could have asked for -- I have their support while I work to land this amazing new opportunity, and I can stop worrying both about when my sheer disillusionment would be found out and that, if fired, I'd not have time to make a wise next step. I know what it's like to wish there could be a way to leave, but with some financial buffer. Thankfully, I have it. And I wish for all those who seek something similar that their hopes are realized and that happier days lie ahead.

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melle

I thank you so much for this article, because I am currently in the same predicament and I am so glad I have someone I can relate with 100%, except that I am still at the horrid job. It's just I'm tired of being sick and tired of this place where people don't have any integrity, get pissed off all the time at the drop of a dime, play the blame game, and when you do such a great job that it has grown the company so large, they don't give you any credit for the work you do, making you feel in the end, screwed like what did I really get out of this? A salary bump? Bonus? Nope and Nope. A sense of accomplishment? Nope, Not even an ounce of appreciation. Instead, my boss changes the employee policy as he sees fit, effective immediately without considering how it will impact his employees, for example, dropping employee gym memberships, lowering the transportation benefits, charging for health benefits, making us use up our vacation to save some moeny, etc etc. Everyone is so disorganized and dysfunctional that I am not making any personal growth. I don't feel like I'm living with a meaningful purpose at work simply because I am not surrounding myself with good people. I just want to work with good, collaborative, respectful people who are trying to achieve a common goal without tearing each other apart. Why is that so difficult? I really really really want to get laid off. The longer I stay here, the more and more miserable I get. It's like the line from Office Space that Ron Livingston makes, that everyday is worse than the day before, so everyday that goes by, that is the worst day of my life. I no longer want to work crazy hours on a salary where if I work extra I don't get extra pay, but if I work less, I get pay deducted. What kind of system is this? I am so done with this job. It's only been 1.3 years since I've been there and I really hope not to waste anymore of my life. The reality is though, that I need a job. I've got student loans, and other bills to pay. I don't get severance like a lot of people on here have mentioned. I only get cobra to pay an arm and a leg. However, I still want to get laid off. The least I want out of this cheapskate is unemployment. I hope he notices how unmotivated I am at work. I hope he notices how much I hate him and resent him for all the crap that he has not had any repercussions for, YET. I hope he has an ounce of human in him to feel pity and lay me off.

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Jake

I was doing 10 of 12 of your first 12 points for 2 months and they still wouldn't fire me... Seriously couldn't handle it anymore so I broke down and quit. Sometimes it is time to move on with life.

Good entertaining article these should work at most companies.

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Guest

Or better yet, leave this article up on your computer screen whenever you leave your desk!

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Guest

Skip work once every two weeks. Call in and say you don't think you are feeling well enough to come in today.

Act crazy. Say you are forgetting basic things about your job and ask for help.

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First Time

I never used to think like this but after going through 6 months of rumors and then layoffs caused me to rethink my career. Now several more rounds are due in 2012. The company is ruthless and admits its replacing more expensive employees with cheaper ones. From their perspective it all has to do with shareholder value. Benefits are cut each year while profits increase. Think Occupy Wall St.
All this creates a hostile work environment of stress and low morale. Everyone is expected to work like a robot. Everyone is statused and micromanaged and being tracked (especially Internet and time cards).
I’m able to accept early retirement but want to get a severance package to grease the skids.
I think the political tactics are best like going over your bosses head to try to resolve issues on your own.
I declined the Christmas luncheon first so that everyone else would see my name. I wrote to the president of the company asking about extensions to our work but yet no more funding. In this way you are a caring individual but sticking your head up to be axed! I am also fortunate enough to be doing a very difficult task and being slow to resolve it. Management always underestimates how long a task takes and employees are now asked to commit to their schedule. They are not responsible anymore - we are.
So it’s a fine line which I’m walking. My wife tells me to quit thinking like an ass, but I enjoy it as I get to plan ingenious ways acting like Dr. House. All in great fun!
Socialized healthcare is coming just in time. Stress kills and its fun to laugh and live longer.

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Guest

I am actually doing almost half of these and it hasnt worked yet.....BURNOUT FROM WORK!!!

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Doreen

These are terrific and yes they work! Thanks for the help, hated it there since the new owners took over. Didn't really mean to use any but hey if no one likes to hear the truth then they should not be in business. The place was a huge success and then this corp came in and didn't even give anyone training on their software. Just DO IT. Naturally the pressure was on and the smiles were gone from everyone walking on edge. We knew they would dump us one at a time anyway. I loved the job before they took over. Was there five years. Happy to be free.

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Nelson

I am late in adding my comments, but after reading the article and the comments, I imagine that this article wasn't meant for 95% of the workforce who are terrified of being laid off, as they are your average 9-5ers. That's not a knock on those workers, the workplace needs the "worker bees" so to speak, who value their personal lives more than their work lives.

However, there are a very few people, who are natural superstars. No matter what they do, they are considered the top performers, producers, idea makers, leaders, etc. I am one of those. I value my home life a great deal, but I also am gifted with high intelligence, motivation and an unhealthy work ethic. I work for a large company though, and while I am fairly compensated (well into 6 figures) plus options, commissions, bonuses, etc. the job itself can be very soul sucking. You know you are only doing it for the benefit of a very few shareholders. Meanwhile, I see lots of up and coming companies that I would love to go to, but simply can't because of non-disclosure agreements and non-compete clauses.

Being laid-off frees me of these, while providing my family with a nice cushion to weather through a couple of comparatively lean years providing my talents to an organization where my input would have more impact. Again, not saying I am not appreciated, but when you are one superstar employee in a company of 100,000, there are 1000 other stars and your comparative impact is negligible. I know I would actually be more helpful to my clients, where my passion truly lies, with another organization than I can be with the one I am in.

That said though, few of these suggestions really work. Last time I tried the laid-back approach, the Senior Management Team thought I needed a new challenge and instead of getting laid off, I was moved to a new territory.

The best way to do this, is to have a frank discussion with your leadership, telling them of your dissatisfaction, and your true intentions, and work on an exit strategy that meets their needs and your own. That way, you keep the contacts and respect, without injuring your reputation. Or consider yourself lucky to have a great job and fight through the tough years that inevitably come during a recession.

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Guest

if your job was slowly transforming into another job title and you were no longer doing what you were hired to do... I think that's a great reason to want to be laid off...

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Guest

If you work a job with constant schedule changes every week or every other week, do a couple no call-no shows and explain that you did not get a chance to see your schedule posting. That shows lack of responsibilityand is another way to get noticed...

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Ernest -

Oh man... I have been doing like 45 percent of the things mentioned here at work without even realizing it!!!!

But, yes, I guess cause I have felt its time to move on from there. Deep down inside subconsciously I guess my soul knows its true but just having made the move yet but happy to know sonething inside me is doing so.

Great article!!!

Ernest-

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Guest

Great article, covered it all.

Americans are brainwashed to the point where they take violent offense to the idea of NOT being a corporate slave and NOT putting the corporations interests ahead of their own.

Even though I do much of this stuff they still won't fire me! Argh!

Who cares about working?

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Guest

Haha..I loved this article too. They're always axing the people who don't want to get laid off, but keep the people who do. Guess I gotta step things up a notch!

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Wanna Leavitt

Me too... I have nightmares on a regular basis about my job, especially on Sunday nights. I have done many of the things on the list, not consciously, but probably subconsciously because I just don't want to be there. The joy-killers at work are related to multi-tasking high risk situations involving lots of money. ie: taking customer service calls while simultaneously doing financial transactions at a drive-thru teller window, etc. etc. I complain about the multi-tasking and am reminded time and again that it is part of the job. I found this article because we are going through a merger and I am secretly hoping to be laid off. I am trying to find out if layoffs occur before or after the actual deal is done. ?

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Guest

I am trying to get laid off. I think I earned the severance with my service and my job doesn't deserve my honest hard work. I am already doing most of the things in the list, but more of a jerk I became, more the managerial I sound. If you are unhappy and want to leave your job, why not to collect the severance pay. If your manager is a douchebag and you want out, enjoy the payback time and have some fun pissing off the asshole who made you consider leaving the company.

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Guest

I've been laid off before from multiple companies, from jobs both wonderful and jobs so incredibly horrid they gave me depression just thinking about them.

Of course, getting laid off from a job you enjoyed is a terrible experience; I had a previous job with 2 seriously awesome bosses and some great coworkers that made the work actually bearable to do. I didn't even mind the mandatory overtime I got every Saturday morning. When I was taken aside and told I would be allowed to finish the week and that was it, I was numb. I was depressed for a while after, even when I landed a new job a few weeks later. Those are jobs you look back on fondly even when you've already gotten a new job, one that might even pay better and have actual benefits.

Then there are jobs where they couldn't even pay you to do, and not because the work was hard or hazardous. It's because the job completely ruins a whole chunk of your day and poisons the rest just from its very existence and the fact that you're the one stuck doing it. One such job started out as a great job like above, with similarly awesome bosses and coworkers and none of the required overtime. I would get worried when layoffs were rumored and would be relieved when they didn't happen to me or my team (a cruel thought, I will admit). Then my boss was promoted and a new manager was brought in from another department.

This new boss, he was not so awesome.

He started off by having us all moved from large, reasonably private cubicles into desks that were much too small to comfortably work at - to say nothing of the absolute mess of wires this created, a real and constant tripping hazard - he was constantly micro-managing everybody's time, and he piled on responsibilities that we were never prepared for much less trained well enough to perform. And that was before he started making up issues with people's performance and attitude - not even trying to dig up something genuine like another comment to this article - in order to scare them into working harder and making his numbers look good or else. It got to the point where I simply couldn't stand it and started complaining to my former boss (now his boss) and generally stopped giving a damn about my job (only doing the minimum). My bellyaching got me labeled as a troublemaker and my boss picked up on my change in attitude, putting me first on the chopping block when the company downsized. I'm not kidding when I say I wanted to dance my way to my car when I was taken aside and told I wouldn't even be allowed to finish the day, much less the week, not even caring if I would get unemployment or not (I did, without incident in fact).

So for those saying "getting laid off on purpose is a terrible idea! Why would you even entertain it!?" It's likely that you haven't gotten "that one job" yet. That one job they write someecards about; you think they're just kidding, but you'd be shocked at how depressingly accurate some of those can be. That one job you wished somebody would invent a robot to replace you with already. That one job you needed medication to dull the incredible anxiety and/or depression your boss provided you on a daily basis, even on weekends or when he wasn't around.

That one job made me decide to finally go back to school and get that degree I've always wanted and hopefully get a job that I will at the very least find stimulating and worthwhile, if nothing else, even if it means taking on a part-time job (as opposed to full-time) so I can better concentrate on my studies.

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Guest

I was recently laid off earlier in the year after being with the company for 9 years. It took forever to get unemployment benefits due to a separation package. I sent countless resumes and went for interviews with no offers. I finally started getting unemployment and after 4 weeks or so, I got an offer. I accepted the offer even though it was for less pay. After 4 weeks of the 90 day probation, I find that the job is not what I expected and I am doing work that is bad for my health. I would like to search more for what I really want, but I do not want to quit. I'm not sure what to do.

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Guest

I love it, this is what I need right now. I am going to follow that list, it's perfect. What about just telling the boss "I don't want to work for you anymore" straight up?