Getting fired does happen sometimes because you do not fit in with a company OR you are last one in, first one out when things get tough and sometimes you made a mistake or a misstep that led to you being fired.
These are all very different stories and lead to very different options for you to pick up the pieces. Being fired is traumatic. I am lucky in that the last time I was “fired”, I was 15 and working at Roy Rogers. In my defense, it was SO hard to make those chicken packages I just could not deal – and Roy Rogers was hella busy and hey, I was only 15 – and you get the idea – this was over 25 (almost) years ago and it still can be something to be defensive over!
I am lucky, honestly. I led my career with focus (mostly) and never found myself on the chopped block again but that does not mean I did not have issues. For those of you unlucky enough to have been fired more recently, it is not the end of the world. In fact, there are tons of examples of people who have been fired and it was the catalyst that led to bigger and better things.
Being “laid off” is often considered not being fired – but ultimately it is similar to being fired in that you have no job. I was laid off in early 2000 from a dot-com (who wasn’t) but it still left me scrambling. I learned some lessons in early 2000 and I have built on these lessons as I help clients and students alike recover from being fired or “let go” or “separated” from their companies and careers.
What do you do when you are fired? Sometimes, it comes out of left field so it does not leave you time to be prepared but most people can sense something is going to happen. It is rare that you walk into the office thinking today is the day you get promoted and then wind up being escorted out by security with your belongings in a box. I mean, it is rare – unless you are delusional or at a crazy company that likes to torture employees.
For some people above a certain level, being fired leads to a negotiation process with the ability to ask for career counseling and a severance package but for the rank and file, this is just a goodbye without anything. How can you be ready for this without thinking negatively for no reason?
I am huge about not thinking negatively – not to sound all granola and crunchy but I do think if you put out negative thoughts, negative things come back (see a future post about Meditation that I have in the works for more on that). It is important to always be ready for anything and a good way to be ready for your career is to always have a great resume and LinkedIn profile.
If you cannot maintain both, please keep the LinkedIn up to date and active. You can find out more of my advice on LinkedIn here Blog Category LinkedIn Advice. If you just cannot fathom LinkedIn and how it works, please consider either my do it yourself LinkedIn product OR my LinkedIn Improvement Package on improving and instructing you how to use LinkedIn – this takes me over 10 hours of work on my part and it leaves you with an excellent noticeable profile and the game plan on how to use it.
Also, always cultivate your network. You do not need to spend 20 hours a week on this – that is insane. You can just always be “available” and at times, out there with meetings and events. If you see something that would apply to someone’s life, job search or more, take the few minutes to send it over to them just as a way to “water” your relationships. There are some people that might expect more but almost everyone is so busy, just occasionally hearing from you is enough to help the relationship for when you have to send the “Help, I have been fired” message.
And you should never send a “help, I have been fired” message anyway. It should read more like,
“Hi, Joe. I hope the email I sent you about XYZ helped with your project. I wanted to also let you know that I am looking for new opportunities in my field (or another field or x or y). If you know of anyone looking for [INSERT YOUR EVP HERE – find out more here Using Your Elevator Pitch as a Value Statement] please keep me in mind. Looking forward to seeing you again! Warmest regards, Jane”
You do not have to say you have been fired BUT if you are interviewing for a new role, you do have to be transparent. Resist the urge to bad mouth the company or otherwise make it seem like you have been betrayed or abused. These are all massive red flags for hiring managers and everyone, really. Make it as professional as possible. Do not bring emotions into it. When asked your reason for leaving your last job (it is right there on every job application and definitely brought up in any interview), “The company and I decided to part ways” or “The company made some changes that led to my position being no longer necessary” or “I was fired because [INSERT PROFESSIONAL SOUNDING REASON HERE].
If you were fired for gross misconduct or something very negative, this will come out when your references are called. As much as companies are tied up into what they CAN and CANNOT say (such as basic information confirming employment dates), a savvy hiring manager (on either side) can figure out the real story without too many words. If you have done something extremely unethical or borderline criminal, be honest and beware when / if you can pick up the pieces of your career.
This is in very rare cases; most people are fired due to poor performance which can often be brought back into the culture/fit discussion in terms of how your mesh with a company. And this is hard to identify until you are in the trenches of said company but you can use some of my advice here The Next Step Blog Posts on Culture and Fit.
What do you think of my in case of firing advice? Have you been fired before? Why? Was it something that allowed you to change your career for the better? Is it something that still causes you anger and/or other emotion? How did you mask the emotional aspect? Happy Hunting!
Sign Up Here for The Next Step Exclusive Content and Offers
Lisa Vento Nielsen