“You’re Fired!” Now What Do I Do?

Oct 24, 2019

Getting fired is awful. Even if you were struggling at work or already looking for your next job, getting fired can feel like a personal failure.

It’s not easy to get back out there and find a new job. The aimless feeling of a broken routine added to the feelings of personal failure can be immobilizing and overwhelming. Below is some advice to help give you direction after losing your job.

Take Some Time to Yourself

Getting fired is akin to an unexpected breakup. You may feel out of control, angry, and afraid—and that’s normal. Take the time to experience this grief and process your feelings. It’s perfectly ok to feel sorry for yourself and take it easy for a little while.

During this time, it can be beneficial to take a break from social media. If you’re already feeling unworthy and depressed, it can be hard to remember that your friends don’t have perfect lives. You should also take a breather from the working world for a bit. Don’t search for new job opportunities until you’ve worked through some of your emotions.

But Not Too Much Time

A few days is good, a few weeks is not. If you spend too much time wallowing, depression can take hold and make it that much harder for you to get back on track. Some methods for managing your stress and keeping depression at bay include:

  • Unload and process your feelings by writing in a journal. This is a safe space for you to disclose everything that’s going on in your mind.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes each day. The dopamine released by your brain will help you stay mentally stable (as well as the physical benefits).
  • Talk to a licensed therapist. They can assist in helping you work through your fears and manage any anxiety you have surrounding getting fired.

Find the Silver Lining

Once you’ve processed your emotions, it’s time to change your mindset. Many famous people have seen success after being fired. It’s a major opportunity to make changes in your life. Think of the positives of losing your job, such as:

  • You’ve eliminated all the negative aspects of your job.
  • You can take the time to consider what you want to do next.
  • You can complete training or other programs that you never had time for.

Consider What Went Wrong

Remember that people get fired for many reasons. Even if you were told the reason you were fired, it’s a good idea to explore what might have gone wrong and how you can do better in the future.

Employer reviews are a great source of constructive criticism. (Take notes on your positive feedback too—this will help later in your job search!) You can also reach out to former colleagues who you trust. Let them know that you are open and ready to listen without being defensive. Avoid badmouthing the company, even if you think it’s deserved. It gives people a bad impression and can cost you a positive reference.

Once you’ve evaluated the feedback, you might see some patterns or trends that can show what you need to work on.

Plan Your Next Steps

It’s now time to start focusing on the solution. Is there a class you can take for skill building? Are there books to help you with interpersonal relationships? Do you need professional coaching for a soft skill, like time management?

Don’t go through the motions—give this self-improvement your all. You’ll see results in no time and will be in a position to accept new opportunities with a positive attitude.

Between jobs, you can explore freelancing or volunteering to keep your skills sharp. This will also provide something on your resume to show potential employers that you used your time well.

Start Your New Job Search

First things first: make sure all your professional materials are up to date. This includes your resume, cover letter template, reference list, social media profiles, and portfolio. You’ll also want to practice answering tough interview questions about losing your job.

Once you’re ready, get started with networking. Spread the word that you’re looking for a position and ask for help. Now is not the time to be shy! Your next opportunity could come from the unlikeliest of places.

Written by: Sarah Perlman

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