Congratulations. You’re fired! How to handle Getting Fired or Laid Off

Steve Jobs. J.K. Rowling. Walt Disney. Oprah. What do all these famous people have in common? They’ve all been fired. If you’re currently taring at your own pink slip – or anticipating one in the near future – you can take a tiny bit of comfort in knowing that you’re in illustrious company. In today’s tough economic times it’s inevitable that the season of joy and mirth brings you the news of getting fired. Apple CEO Steve Jobs, on getting fired:

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Getting fired, unfortunately (or fortunately), can happen to the best of us. It happens. You’re not alone. Whether you’re an ambitious young professional or an old-time executive, you just never know when you’ll be handed the pink slip. It could be due to many reasons like,

  • Company restructuring, downsizing or change in management
  • Your unsuitability for a role or under-performance
  • Your boss is an idiot or dysfunctional
  • Reasons that has nothing to do with you: Market changes
  • Disciplinary issues

Whatever the reason, getting fired sucks, big time. It can be one of life’s most stressful experiences, your feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are dealt a blow. The first reactions to getting fired are usually anger and pain, followed by feelings of confusion and disillusionment. It’s like getting dumped in a relationship, except you lose your paycheck too. However the good news is that getting fired is not the end of the world and with the right approach and perspective you could turn something bad into something positive. And that means taking a deep breath, getting yourself together, and looking at your situation.

The Don’ts | After getting fired

Even though it’s difficult, you can make a bad situation worse by doing or saying the wrong thing to the wrong people when you are getting fired. At that moment, the Don’ts are more important than the Do’s.

Don’t panic. You’re no doubt shocked, if not surprised at your new employment status. It can be tough to calm your anxious thoughts, but the smartest thing you can do right now is exactly that. Try to prevent your emotions from getting the better of you. The calmer you stay, the faster you’ll get past this crisis and into the next stage of your life.

Don’t beat yourself up. Getting fired truly does happen to the best of us. Don’t dwell on it, since that won’t help your situation. It’s natural to feel angry, sad, and frustrated but make sure to restrict negative comment and complaints to your closest friends and family.

Don’t Burn Bridges. Although you’re not leaving the company under the best circumstances, how you leave can affect your success down the line. Never bad-mouth a former employee or employer online, offline or via social media. You never know when you’ll need a reference. You need to protect your reputation now more than ever, and a bitter, hostile exit will make that impossible.

Don’t tell the whole world what happened. Be cautious, as this is the beginning of your job search process. Keep your communication of getting fired to those closest to you, who you can trust to keep your story confidential until you decide what your formal leaving message is going to be.

Don’t apply for a new role right away. Take a deep breath first. Your time may be better spent taking stock of what you liked about your previous role and what kind of challenges you’d like most in the next one.  This is an opportune time to make some personal choices and maybe even a shift in career direction. Preparing a modified, updated resume tailored to both your targeted audience and the type of role you’d like to pursue is the first step.

Don’t plead your case. Don’t try to defend yourself with detailed complaints about what “they” did to you. Don’t be morose or express anger or bitterness over the situation. And, most important of all, don’t badmouth anybody. All that you will accomplish with such defensive behavior is to convince your would-be employer that the business of your dismissal is still festering. They may be worried that this may affect the way you handle all future business dealings.

Don’t be angry. Feeling angry after being fired is normal. However, you need to leave that anger at home and not bring it to the next interview with you.

Things to do after getting fired

You can’t fire me, because I quit!Cut the Crap, Get a Job! It’s much easier to find a new job when you’re still employed, in part because of some hiring managers’ negative perceptions. Start looking for another job right away. Don’t just resign; the best time to look for a new job is when you already have one. Don’t feel guilty about looking while you’re working; in fact, it’s likely that you’ll be doing your current job far better, fueled with new energy because you have finally made a constructive decision about your future.

Ask for a reference. How crazy is it to ask somebody who has just fired you to provide a reference for your next job? It’s always worth trying to negotiate some sort of reference before getting fired and leaving. Securing some sort of reference will help to diffuse any worries you may have about explaining your exit to prospective future employers.

Calm yourself & Start over. While you may feel that your future is uncertain, it’s important to realize that getting fired is not the end of your career. Go home, have a good cry, let it all out, binge on ice-cream. But tell yourself it’ll be okay. Take care by exercising and journaling to relieve stress after being fired. Once you’ve allowed some time to mend emotionally and have gotten over the anger of being fired, it’s time to set sail on a new course.

Regain your self-confidence. Tell yourself that you did not lose the job because you were incompetent or a good for nothing. Take this analogy. You have hired a cook and he’s brilliant at churning out the best North Indian spread you can think of, is punctual and hygienic but suddenly you marry a Chinese girl who would love to have Chinese food every day. Could you continue to have a cook that can only cook Indian food? You might have to let him go, but does getting fired make him any less competent in his field?

Get your finances in order. Review your budget for the next few months, and cut out any expenses you can. Having an accurate picture of your financial status will give you some time guidelines around your search, allow you to consider your options and hopefully reduce some of the anxiety. Assume that you might not have any money coming in for at least a few months, so pare your spending down to the essentials. Simply adopt a more modest lifestyle – without overdoing it.

Understand why you’ve been fired. One of the most important steps for finding the next job is understanding what went wrong in your last one. Oftentimes, people lose their jobs because they just weren’t a good fit for them. Most importantly, you need to “own the failure” by understanding what they personally did wrong and not blaming others for what happened.

Learn what you do best. Once you’ve determined your strengths, you can brand yourself as an expert in these subjects during your job search, which will give you a leg up over other people who are selling themselves as generalists.

Work on your issues. There is a good chance that you were fired because of disciplinary reasons such as low inputs, slack attitude to work, discipline, non-punctuality, nuisance to other colleagues etc. Think objectively about your behavior and performance at your workplace. Are you someone you’d want on your team if you were the owner of the business?

All your job search correspondence must be positive. There is no need to mention that you were fired in your resume or in your cover letters. Focus on the basics. Make sure your cover letter address the position you are applying for and why, and how, you are qualified for it. That’s all you need to do. There is no point in bringing up the circumstances of your leaving until you have to.

Prepare for the Interview. The moment of truth has arrived, when an interviewer asks you why you left your previous job. Don’t panic. Prospective employers are not interested in being your judge and jury, nor are they interested in rescuing your career. The most important thing is to be honest about what happened because hiring managers will almost definitely know you’re lying if you give untruthful answers. When asked why you left your last job, your answer should be true, concise and as positive as possible. All they’re trying to ascertain is if there’s a problem or not with your attitude and approach to your work. Focusing on the skills and experience you have, rather than the firing, will help sell you to the employer and will help you get the job. If all goes well, you’ll be back up on that horse in no time.

Maintain a confident and in-charge attitude. Seek the help of friends or a therapist to convert feelings of frustration, anger and loss into positive energy and action. Attend professional meetings, take skill-building courses, attend career workshops, study and respond to job listings, review career advice websites, maintain a wide network of contacts and use a variety of other resources to focus on job searches.

The alternatives

While getting fired is never a boon for your career, it can still be a positive experience. If you use the break for self-improvement instead of self-pity, you can emerge a winner. Yet few people view termination as an opportunity to lay a foundation for future career satisfaction. When you’re unemployed, you have a chance to explore new careers and fields, find a better-fitting job, or perhaps even start your own business. An enforced sabbatical provides an excellent opportunity for self-rediscovery.

Start afresh. Sounds cliche, but it’s true. Having to leave the familiar, stretches you to reevaluate what you really want and give you the freedom to go for it. A career transition gives you the chance to correct a bad job choice. It can free you from a situation in which you felt used – or used up. Do-overs can re-energize you and give a much-needed shake up to other areas of your life.

Apply to other jobs. Look at getting fired as a positive opportunity to reflect and grow. An opportunity to find a place where you can thrive. Use your notice period to look at other suitable openings. But first, understand yourself, evaluate your skill sets and ask yourself an honest question. “What you really enjoy doing and can add value to” and apply to such a company.

Learn a new skill. Did you lose the job because you couldn’t deal with the demand of an ever growing, dynamic workplace? This is a good opportunity and free time to upgrade your skill-sets to be ready for a new job. Maybe a new programming language, an advanced excel course or an introduction to marketing analytics is what you need to move on the next level in your career.

Start-up. Indeed, after a life dictated by a controlling boss, an intricate employee assessment, and mundane tasks that had no relation to what you found most enjoyable, you are free. Maybe getting fired is the wake-up call you need to stir into action to start that cafe you never would have with the convenience of a cushy job. Put all experience from the job to good use and be thankful you could now work hard in making your dreams come true instead of helping someone else make theirs.

Being Human. Who was I if I wasn’t going to work, making money, and contributing in that way? Answer that question, and learn to love yourself. “You’re not a Human Doing, you’re a Human Being.” Learning to value the being part of yourself not only puts you in deeper relationship with yourself, it also helps you appreciate the other “beings” in your life.

Build your passive income. Passive income is highly sought after and often misunderstood. Passive income streams require an upfront investment and a lot of nurturing in the beginning. After some time and hard work these income streams start to build and are able to maintain themselves, bringing you consistent revenue without much effort on your part. Adding passive income streams to your portfolio can help you increase your earnings and accelerate your financial goals in tremendous ways. So start building your passive income channel – be it a blog, selling online, coaching, YouTube videos, house rent, network marketing, whatever…

Pick up, dust yourself off, and work on it!

“Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.”

Getting fired is a blow to your ego and can be downright scary. However getting fired isn’t the end of the world, even if it feels like it on the day you receive your termination. In fact, many people learn valuable lessons from the experience and come back stronger than ever. The same goes for rejection, failure, losing business, anything that feels gut-wrenching bad at the time. It’s an opportunity to learn, gain wisdom, and ultimately improve your position.

No successful career goes straight up and to the right. Failure and loss, especially getting fired, is not only a source of great wisdom, it’s also necessary to keep that fire that drives you burning inside. This is the time to contemplate carefully before talking too much or running away. Managing your transition may be one of the most challenging, but pivotal parts of managing your career. Find the blessings in the beast. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and work on it.



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