Being Let Go vs. Being Fired: What’s the Difference?


being let go vs. being fired

If you or someone that you know has lost a job, you may be familiar with the terms “being let go,” “being fired,” or maybe even something else entirely (for example, “being relieved from a job“). 

And while the terms being let go vs. being fired sound like they mean the same thing, there are subtle difference between the two that can be confusing.

To that end, this article is going to pack what being let go vs. being fired means and the similarities and differences between the two terms.

Being Let Go Vs. Being Fired: What’s the Difference

thinking person

At a high level, being fired means that you were let go with cause. Being let go means that the job that you were performing has been eliminated.

To unpack these a bit further, when a person is fired, it typically means that the event was specific to the person (i.e., not a mass layoff) and was typically due to something in their performance (i.e., missing a goal, communication, ability to work with the team, attitude, etc.).

When someone is let go, the most common reason for that is a mass layoff where a company is looking to save costs and eliminates a variety of positions. It could also be the case that the company decided that a specific job is no longer needed, potentially due to acquisition, outsourcing, new management, or some other reason.

A final note on the term being let go is that it sometimes is a softer way of referring to someone being fired. If you want to understand whether somebody was truly fired vs. let go, try to unpack some of the context around the situation. The biggest clues as to whether or not somebody was actually fired is if it was just them that it happened to and whether or not the company is replacing the position. If the organization is replacing the position, that means that the position wasn’t eliminated entirely, and it was just the specific person that they got rid of.

Is Letting Go The Same as Getting Fired?

No, letting go typically refers to someone losing their job as a result of their position being eliminated. Getting fired means that an individual person was terminated for cause.

Is It Better to Be Fired Or Let Go?

thumbs up and down

It is almost certainly better to be let go than it is to be fired. A few reasons that being let go is better than being fired:

  1. It is easier to get unemployment benefits when you’re being let go vs. being fired
  2. You are less likely to receive severance pay when you’re fired vs. when you’re let go
  3. Being fired for cause typically raises more potential red flags for future employers than does being let go

Being Fired Vs. Being Let Go: What It Means For Unemployment


To be eligible for unemployment, an individual typically must be out of work for reasons beyond their control.

When an individual is fired, they generally will have a harder time getting unemployment benefits because people are fired for cause that is related to their job performance. 

If you’re fired, and would like to get unemployment, you’ll generally need to prove that the reason for termination was unfounded.

On the other hand, if you are let you, you’re generally eligible to receive unemployment benefits. The reason for that is that the true definition of being let go refers to people who were terminated because their position was eliminated (i.e., in a layoff) and for reasons that were outside of their control (hence, you would be eligible for unemployment). 


Understanding the differences and nuance between the terms being let go vs. being fired can be difficult and confusing. Hopefully, this article provided some clarity between the two terms and answered any questions that you may have had. 

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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