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Don’t Quit Your Job Until You Read This Book


How to engineer your layoffHave you thought about quitting your job? The economy is still not good and a steady paycheck is a precious commodity these days. However, there must be some reasons as to why you might want to quit. I left my six figure salary job in July and I haven’t regretted it yet. After 16 years, the job was no longer the right fit for me and it was time to move on. Unfortunately,  How to Engineer Your Layoff by Sam @ Financial Samurai came out 2 days after I handed in my two week notice. While I felt that leaving was the right thing for me to do, I left without a severance package and the book could have helped with that if it had come out earlier.

Is quitting better than getting laid off?

Most people think that quitting is better than getting laid off. I guess it’s better to be the dumper than the dumpee, but is that really true? The end result is the same – you won’t have a job anymore. If you can get laid off and collect a severance package, it is better than quitting and walking away with nothing. Of course, every situation is different and if you need to quit now, then do it. This book is most useful for someone who has 3 months to 2 years to work on getting laid off.

Sam also points out the ideal layoff candidate:

  • Someone who has worked at their job for three or more years and over 10 years in the industry.
  • Someone who has good relationship with his/her superiors and co workers.
  • Someone who is financially ready to face months or years of no income.

If you fit this description and have time to work on getting laid off, then How to Engineer Your Layoff will be very useful for you.

HR holds the key

One of the most important points Sam raised was to befriend your Human Resources (HR) manager/representative. I was an engineer and did not know any HR person in my company at all. I never had to interact with them throughout my career and it would have been useful to get their sincere assistance. HR represents the company so they won’t do anything special for you; however, if you know them well, they might be more willing to work with you on various options and at least tell you what to expect.

Before I left my job, I tried to see what kind of severance package was available.  I talked to my HR rep and she told me a severance package was not available for me. I worked in this company for 16 years and had good annual reviews for 15 of them. My last annual review was not great and I expected it. The HR rep said they only lay off someone who had several bad reviews. I’m guessing at least 2. I would have had to stay until April 2013 to get a bad review before trying to negotiate a layoff package. My industry is also doing better and there have not been many layoffs in the last few years. If this had been 2008, it would have been easier to get a severance package. I also would have to endure 9 more months of working there. Sam talked about how to positively engineer your layoff without having a bad review and this would have been helpful while I was working.

You can see that I did not have a clear idea of how to get laid off from my company.

  • How many bad annual reviews do I need? How bad does the annual review have to be? What happens if I don’t do anything at all for a year?
  •  I did not know if there is a layoff coming up. I guessed that there weren’t, but I could have been wrong.
  •  Whether or not I could have a good working relationship with an HR rep. He/she could have helped me navigate the layoff process. Or not… Who knows… Sam gives some good tips on how to engage HR and build a good relationship with them.

The KEY is to build a relationship with HR, your boss, and co-workers. Don’t focus on the performance reviews like I did.

A lot of great tips

This is just one chapter in Sam’s book. Here are some other chapters that would have been useful for me.

  • How to lay your cards out for your boss
  • What to look for during severance negotiation
  • How to make yourself redundant/a dead weight so the company will want to lay you off.
  • Case studies of people who successfully quit. Sam coached about a dozen of people through the layoff process and most of them were successful.
  • Why you shouldn’t quit/get laid off. Last minute devil’s advocate check list.
  • And more…

Here is the bottom line.  How to Engineer Your Layoff cost $85. If you are thinking about leaving your job and have the time to implement the layoff strategies, then you need to at least read his book. $85 sounds expensive for an ebook, but you could be walking away with a $4,000 severance package like Lana the bartender instead of nothing. The high end of the severance package that Sam helped with was $500,00 for an investment banker (very impressive.) $85 is peanut comparing to any kind of severance package and it’s worth it to learn what Sam has to teach. This book is for anybody who wants to retire early, change career, go to graduate school, or simply take a hiatus.

If you have any questions at all, let me know and I will try my best to answer them.

Follow this link to buy the book –  How to Engineer Your Layoff* NEWLY RELEASED 2nd EDITION UPDATED FOR 2016! *


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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Lance @ Money Life and More September 7, 2012, 6:12 pm

    I’ve been interested in this book but don’t have plans to get leave my job or go for severance so I can’t justify the cost right now. Maybe if things change down the road but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    • Financial Samurai September 9, 2012, 7:36 pm

      Lance, I suggest doing researching on quitting your job well before you actually DO quit your job. At least give it 6 months in advance if you have this luxury.

  • Charles September 7, 2012, 6:32 pm

    All major companies have a short term disability policy. It seems that you would’ve qualified under stress leave which would allow you to stay at hime for a few months. Then when you come back some of your skills will be rusty, which adds to your stress level and your performance. That will get you closer to a bad review. Did your company have a 6 month mid year review?

    In my company the poor peformers go on stress leave for 6 months, return and underperform for three months, and then receive a year severance package. Since performance is subjective many companies offer severance so that you don’t sue. Consider it a strategic default on your career.

    • retirebyforty September 7, 2012, 8:46 pm

      I went on a stress leave for 3 months and didn’t want to continue when I came back.
      We didn’t have a mid year review this year so I would have to stay another 9 months to get a bad review and then push for a severance package. However, I feel like I already put it off long enough so I just quit. My health was deteriorating and the severance package isn’t worth another 9 months of feeling terrible.

      • Sam September 8, 2012, 7:03 am

        I’m glad you got the 3 months of sick leave Joe. Hopefully it was paid time off? But if not, what’s more important than your health?

        • retirebyforty September 8, 2012, 7:56 am

          I got the short term disability pay. It was helpful.

  • Sam September 8, 2012, 7:06 am

    Honored for the book to have been reviewed by you Joe! Sorry I was not quicker in coming out with it.

    If any readers have any clarifications or small questions they’d like to ask, I’m open to answering.

    Best, Sam

  • Kim September 8, 2012, 8:42 am

    I guess I’ll have to read this book at some point even though it does not apply to me. It just sounds a bit shady to me that you would intentionally perform poorly at your job with the intention of taking as much money as you can. I’ve never worked for a big company and maybe I would feel differently if I did. As an employer, it has taken a huge toll to deal with employees who have tried to work every angle to their advantage. It has cost me quite a bit of money to deal with employees who aren’t there to do their jobs. I realize it’s like apples and oranges a bit, but this just sort of rubs me the wrong way.

    • Sam September 8, 2012, 11:08 am


      Please focus on the 3 key points in Joe’s post:

      Someone who has worked at their job for three or more years and over 10 years in the industry.
      Someone who has good relationship with his/her superiors and co workers.
      Someone who is financially ready to face months or years of no income.

      These are the positives and foundation one should focus on first.

      The book is not about encouraging people to before badly. It’s about empowering yourself with knowledge as employees have much more power than they know. The second is building the right strategic relationships.


  • Buck Inspire September 9, 2012, 1:40 am

    Great review Joe! Unfortunate that the book came out too late for you, but your health is really more important than the severance. I mentioned to Sam before I actually engineered my own lay off back in 2009. Lay offs were running rampant. I had been there for four years and had great relationships all around. I decided to be proactive and do something rather than wait for the axe to drop. It worked out well, but I didn’t fully take advantage of all of Sam’s tricks so I probably left some change on the table.

    • retirebyforty September 9, 2012, 11:14 pm

      I think the timing is very important. In 2012, my company is hiring like crazy. We already went through our big layoffs over the last few years. It’s more difficult to get a severance package in this environment, but Sam’s book could have helped.

  • jim September 10, 2012, 11:33 am

    I think a lot of it is timing. Its a whole lot easier to get laid off and get severance if the company is cutting heads rather than hiring. I have a friend who had a recent bad review. When we had to cut staff in the group he would have normally been sent to the internal job pool but since he had that bad review he was instead terminated. Unfortunately the only way to get that termination was if the department or company as a whole was already cutting staff. So if they weren’t cutting staff getting laid off would have been more work. Normally one bad review wouldn’t have done anything except get you no raise that year.

    • Financial Samurai September 10, 2012, 12:28 pm

      Jim, did your friend get severance at least?

      It definitely is “easier” to get laid off in a job cutting environment. However, what I explain to folks who are willing to listen is that it’s not just about the environment, but about relationships, life, and knowing your own powers as an employee.

      There’s A LOT more that goes on to getting laid off than just where we are in the cycle.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


      • jim September 11, 2012, 12:47 pm

        Yes he did get severance. I believe severance packages are standard procedure at my company assuming you’re not fired for some sort of illegal act or severe violation of rules or something.

        I work at a very large company and from what I’ve seen the HR folks stick by policies pretty consistently. But knowing those policies and how HR applies them would certainly help someone looking to leave with severance.

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 10, 2012, 7:37 pm

    Joe, I’ll be honest. I don’t even want to think of this topic right now. I know it is important, I’m too busy to focus on this. That said, it sounds pretty darn interesting/helpful should the time come 🙂

  • JayCeezy September 10, 2012, 8:07 pm

    Just bought and read this book last week. Insightful and a pleasant surprise, because it contains actionable information. My own situation is complicated. I am like a piece of gum on my employer’s shoe; they can’t get rid of me, though they attempted twice to lay me off. My skillset is not easily replaceable, and my employer’s clients have come to expect my availability. The problem is, the amount of paid client work is right on the cusp of profitability (i.e. 30% billable time). I am in a situation (finally!) where I am looking forward to leaving the workforce (in my 50s, with a non-working spouse and a low overhead).

    Sam’s examples, and real-life assumptions (don’t count on much appreciation through investment, and manage risk) have been a great help. I do not have to quit, but would like to. There won’t be a severance, but Sam’s book actually explains the advantages of simple unemployment benefits. This chapter, alone, was well worth the price of the book. I’m a lifelong student of the subject, and as a new reader to Joe’s blog I am greatly enjoying reading about his journey. His blog is how I found out about ‘Financial Samurai’ and this book. Thank you both.

    • retirebyforty September 12, 2012, 8:22 am

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m sure Sam would appreciate your comment.

  • Mike September 11, 2012, 4:50 am

    I have to check out the ebook when I get some money to afford it-currently have a few other obligations on my plate at the moment. It looks like an interesting one to check out.

  • Aloysa @My Broken Coin September 11, 2012, 6:05 pm

    I am not planning on quitting anytime soon but I am extremely curious about this book. It is on my list to read (whenever I finally get time to do it.) When you quit there is nothing to be offered in my place. When you are laid off, some severance packages are offered. Most of the time they are not too bad but they are not good enough for me to take that step.

  • Mr. Budgets @MrandMrsBudgets August 31, 2015, 5:40 am

    Someone who has worked at their job for three or more years and over 10 years in the industry. – YES!!
    Someone who has good relationship with his/her superiors and co workers. – YES!!
    Someone who is financially ready to face months or years of no income. – YES!!

    Great post. I was hired at my job right out of college and it’s been almost 10years. Not a challenge anymore and politics in the office has really put a damper on things. If I don’t pick up the book, the plan is to tell my employer in January that I plan to leave and kindly give them 2 month notice. It will be a shock to them and not sure how they will respond! Any thoughts?!

    • retirebyforty August 31, 2015, 10:05 am

      You should get the book. A severance package would really help with your cost of living for quite a few months.
      Personally, I would just give them 2 weeks notice. 2 months is a long time. I guess it depends on your relation with your employer and coworkers.

    • Stevie Wonders October 12, 2015, 2:49 pm

      Keep in mind that to qualify for Social Security or Medicare requires 10 years (40 credits). So might as well stick it out if near 10 years. Medicare is still obtainable, but premiums get steep under 30 credits.

  • Targeting FI April 6, 2018, 2:18 pm

    Sounds like this could definitely be a good read. However, how does one justify $85 for an ebook?

    • retirebyforty April 6, 2018, 2:23 pm

      Only if you’re trying to get a severance package.
      It’s not for casual reading, that’s for sure.

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