Have you been fired? Or do you have the feeling your termination is coming on soon? First of all, don’t beat yourself up. Millions of people lose their jobs every single day for any number of reasons. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. With that said, you want to make the best out of this normally stressful and tense situation. You need to know how to deal with the employer who’s firing you. You also want to know how to handle your emotions after the event, as well as how to go about finding a new position somewhere else while dealing with the stigma of being terminated. A few tips can go a long way in making this whole process go as smoothly as possible.
First, while you’re being fired there are a few things you should keep in mind. You need to pay attention to what your employer is saying. They will most likely let you know why you are being fired. It may be difficult to listen to, but these are issues and mistakes you can work on and learn from for future jobs. You should also ask your own questions. You may not get much information. You will however show your boss that you’re interested in learning from past experiences along with the fact that you want to maintain a civil and professional relationship. If the meeting goes well and you’ve succeeded in maintaining that professional atmosphere, ask for references. You want to make sure your boss has no objections to you putting him or her down as a reference on your resume and applications.
After you’ve been fired, don’t go crazy and burn any bridges. You never know when you will cross paths with your former boss or co-workers again. The urge to yell and throw things may be there, but don’t act on those feeling. This sort of behavior will never help you and will almost always hurt you in the long run. Try to remember that getting fired can happen to the best of us. Don’t dwell on what happened and focus instead on what you’re going to do next. You’re goal is to address the issues and put a positive spin on a negative situation.
Once the dust settles, try coming to terms with what has happened. It is normal to feel upset and worried after being fired. Those feeling are valid and shouldn’t be ignored. Instead of hiding from your concerns, tackle them head on and find a way to deal with them. For example, if you’re worried about money, sit down and take a close look at your finances to see how you can make it until you find another job. Maybe a loan, dipping into your savings, or taking a job at a temp agency could help. If you’re worried about your reputation, work hard and make wise choice in the future. Sit down and prepare responses that will repair the damage made by your termination. You need to know how you’re going to respond and react when someone asks you why you’ve been fired. Practice your responses so you can respond confidently and professionally.
Now, take a moment to do some self-reflection. Evaluate what’s happened, take responsibility for your actions, and learn from what you discover. If you were fired for always being late, maybe now is the time that you should take some time management courses. This way, when you do find yourself in a new job, you will be better able to meet your boss’ goals. Taking a few proactive steps can prevent a similar situation from happening with your future boss.
You also want to try to surround yourself with positive people. Negative people are only going to drain your energy and make you feel worse than you already do. Positive people will have a positive influence on your self-esteem, thoughts and actions. Talk to others who’ve been in similar situations and how they conquered their own issues effectively. Learn from other’s mistakes and successes.
Now it’s time to get started on the job hunt. Start the process off by creating a positive cover letter and resume. You don’t need to mention on either of these documents that you’ve been terminated. On your cover letter you want to focus on the basics and nothing more. You want to state the position you are applying for, why you want that position, along with how you’re qualified. Don’t bring up your termination until you absolutely have to. Also, when looking at your resume, think about if you want or need to include the job you were fired from. Most times, you should include the job. The exception is if you only worked there for a short time (less than three months). If you want to downplay your employment history because of your termination, focus on your accomplishments and achievements. Add a section to your resume that’s devoted to your key accomplishments and transferable work skills, and put that section at the top of your resume. Next, revisit your reference list and start picking up the phone. You should let these people know you’re back on the job market and ask if they are still okay with being a job reference. This is extremely important if you know your former employer is going to give you a bad reference. You’ll want people who will rave about your skills and abilities to prospective employers. Once you deal with your cover letter and resume, you’ll be one step closer to getting this situation resolved.
When you’re filling out job applications, avoid being negative but remain honest. Lies will only come back to hurt you. But instead of saying “fired” you can use terms like “job ended” or “terminated” if you’re asked why you are no longer working at specific jobs. This basically sugarcoats the situation. If you’re asked if you were fired, answer honestly. Lying on a job application can get you fired from any position you do acquire under false pretenses.
Now if all goes well with your resume and application, you may be called in for an interview. You can be almost certain that you’re going to be asked “Why did you leave your last job?” You might want to volunteer the information even before the question is asked and move on quickly. Generally you want to keep your explanation brief and honest. If the termination wasn’t your fault (budget issues, downsizing, etc.) explain what happened. It you were fired due to some personal fault on the job, explain that you’ve learned from the experience and how you have benefited as a result. Turn the negative into a positive. You could say, “My personal skills and competencies weren’t the right match for my previous employer, but it looks like they’d be a great fit here.” Another great response would be, “After thinking about it, I realize I could and should have done some things differently at my previous job. It was a learning experience and I’m wiser and ready to prove myself to you if given the chance.” Always tell the truth and stick to only one story regardless of how many people interview you. Don’t make excuses and never insult or blame your former employer for your termination. No one likes to wonder if you’ll be bad mouthing them that same way in the future. And remain unemotional and professional about the situation. It’s normal to feel upset and angry about being fired, but you want to leave that emotion at home and out of an interview. Your goal is to convince the interviewer that, regardless of your past termination, you are a strong candidate for the position and can do the work. Focus on your skills and accomplishments instead of the termination. You will be much more likely to get the job by focusing on the good instead of the bad.
Hopefully now you know how to make the best of this bad situation. Getting fired is never easy. It is stressful and upsetting on a number of levels. Even so, taking all of this advice into account can make the situation a little easier. Good luck to those of you out there dealing with a termination. Think proactively, stay professional, and remember to turn those negatives into a positive. This could be a blessing in disguise after all!