SpongeBob is working happily at the Krusty Krab and is making a Krabby Patty while Squidward sleeps on the job. When he finishes making the patty, Mr. Krabs comes up and tells him he is fired. SpongeBob is devastated by the news, as Krabs says the reason why he is firing him is because he found out he can save a nickel if he cuts off SpongeBob's salary completely. Squidward then asks if he can be fired as well but Mr. Krabs states he can't be fired as he has seniority, to his dismay. SpongeBob offers to work for free, but Mr. Krabs stated he already thought of that, though he had found out he cannot because it is illegal and he would lose his vendor's license. As a result, SpongeBob starts crying uncontrollably and floods the Krusty Krab with his tears. Not sympathetic to this, Squidward drains his tears and escorts the sad sponge out and mockingly tells him he should come back "as a customer," which makes him cry again before Squidward closes the blinds on a sulking SpongeBob. Then, he congratulates Mr. Krabs for his decision and asks him who is going to make the patties. Mr. Krabs tells him that he was a "golden spatula fry cook" in the navy, so he is going to be the new chef before the spatula spontaneously bursts into flames as Squidward comments on the impending disaster.
SpongeBob then goes home, still sad about his situation, as he is comforted by Gary who also wants to be fed. SpongeBob feeds him, but continues to cry as he hears Patrick crying because he is doing so too. Feeling bad, SpongeBob invites him to come inside, before (at first unsuccessfully) telling him about his situation. However, Patrick tells him that being unemployed is the best gig that he knows and tells SpongeBob he is going to come back the next day to tell him the steps of glorious unemployment.
The next day, Patrick arrives to get SpongeBob who appears depressed and disheveled, as Patrick tells him the 3 steps of glorious unemployment, or as Patrick likes to call it, "fun-employment." The steps are breakfast with Squidward, taking a mid-morning siesta, and free lunch with friends. First, they go to Squidward's house and step on his plants. Angered, Squidward throws food at them to go away as Patrick compliments on SpongeBob's "fun-employment" spirit. Next, Patrick and SpongeBob stick themselves to Patrick's rock to sleep, but SpongeBob falls down.
Then, the pair go to Sandy's treedome, where she is handing out food which is really toxic waste that gives off mutations, such as a puffy face for one fish and an extra forehead for Patrick. Sandy then notices SpongeBob who tells her he lost his job and tries to eat the food that she made but she quickly prevents him from eating the slop, as he asks about it and she explains her real goal is doing a psychological test to determine how much stuff (as she doesn't even know what this "stuff" is) they eat, for free. Sandy then tells SpongeBob that he needs to get a new job and not be like the "freeloaders." Motivated by her words, SpongeBob tells Patrick that "fun-employment" may be fun for him but he needs to get a new job. While Patrick's second head insults him, Patrick angrily hits the latter for insulting his friend and tells SpongeBob to go ahead with his decision. With that, he turns from a depressed sponge to back to a happy and joyful sponge again, and he goes looking for a job.
The first job SpongeBob arrives at is the Weenie Hut, where he gets employed by Mister Weiner. However, Mister Weiner soon fires SpongeBob due to him making Weenie Patties instead of hot dogs. Next, SpongeBob goes to Pizza Piehole where he gets hired by Pizza Pete to make pizzas, but SpongeBob makes a Pizza Patty, much to Pizza Pete's disapproval, resulting in SpongeBob getting fired again. Next, SpongeBob goes to Taco Sombrero; he gets hired and makes a Burrito Patty, and Señor Taco decides to give it a try and asks a customer to taste it. Pilar volunteers, but when he takes a bite, the burrito meat gets into Billy and Frank's faces, so he gets fired once again. SpongeBob then cries an excuse to Señor Taco, but the latter just strictly fires him. Next and shortly, a crying SpongeBob goes to Wet Noodle, but he gets fired yet again, and Noodleman throws the Noodle Patty on SpongeBob, causing him to say he'll take his cooking home.
SpongeBob is crying about being fired several times in one day as he goes home. When he arrives home, Gary asks him for snail food, but he says he does not have any, so he makes a homemade can of snail food for Gary. SpongeBob tastes a bit of it, saying it tastes great. Gary eats the food, saying it is the best food he ever tasted. Patrick and his second head also eats the food
Then, there is a knock on the door, which SpongeBob answers. The Hotdog Minions trap SpongeBob in a hot dog bun and take him away. It turns out Mr. Weiner has kidnapped him and "promotes" him because of his idea of Weenie Patties, while ignoring his mentioning of firing him. SpongeBob can't leave because he got chained until Pete comes along and frees him with pizza sauce, only for him to kidnap him with bread stick cuffs. Soon it is a war against all the owners of each restaurant who now see how useful SpongeBob's creations were. This results in a tug of war until the Killer Krabby Patty defeats them and takes him back to the Krusty Krab, where angry customers are leaving because of Mr. Krabs' terrible cooking. Krabs thanks Killer Krabby Patty, who is then revealed to be Squidward in disguise, for bringing SpongeBob back. Squidward admits that even though he hates SpongeBob, he hates the smell of burnt Krabby Patties even more. He begs SpongeBob to come back and become a fry cook again.
SpongeBob says he would if it was okay with Mr. Krabs, who apologizes to SpongeBob for firing him in the first place since the Krusty Krab is falling apart without him, and rehires SpongeBob. Ecstatic at being rehired, SpongeBob cleans the whole restaurant and gives Mr. Krabs and Squidward a new suit and dress.
SpongeBob later serves the customers patties again, even inviting his old bosses over for a meal to make amends. Mr. Krabs then says that to make up for the nickel he lost, he installed a pay toilet, which costs a nickel to use.