Getting fired is one of the toughest things to handle. Even if you saw it coming, exiting a job suddenly is super stressful. Facing the impact on your finances, relationships and your career can feel like an avalanche when your emotions are already running high.
Take a breath. While it’s hard to have perspective in the moment, here are three strategies you can adopt to help you move forward.
1. Negotiate your terms
Getting fired is humiliating and it can hit your self-esteem hard, but you can work with your employer to cushion the blow.
If you’re angry, upset, distraught, or a combination of all three, it’s important to think before you act. Maintain your professionalism and don’t say or do something you’ll regret later, either in person or on social media. It’s just not worth it in the long run.
Work with HR to negotiate how your exit will be explained to potential future employers. Chances are that your employers won’t be motivated to obstruct you from working elsewhere. Agree on your departure language and determine the process for references from prospective employers.
Review your paperwork closely. If you’re offered a severance package, take your time to review it. Don’t sign it straight away. If you need to, there may be room to negotiate. If in doubt, seek independent professional advice from an expert, such as an employment attorney.
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2. Connect with others
Give yourself time to regroup and process what’s happened but don’t remain isolated. Getting fired will kickstart a roller coaster of emotions and you will need time and space to work through your feelings. But remember, you aren’t the first person to be fired and you certainly won’t be the last. That fact doesn’t make the experience less painful, but you don’t have to do this alone.
Connect with a friend or a colleague who’s been through a similar experience and talk it through. They’ve been there, and will be able to provide empathy, support and perspective. Remember though, everyone’s path is different. It’s vital to focus on what you want and how you will move forward. Working with a coach, either for just one session or an ongoing basis, is a smart way to navigate the present and lay the groundwork for the future.
3. Use the experience as a catalyst
When something bad occurs, you can choose to either keep looking back or strive to move forward. Learn from what went wrong in your previous role. If you underperformed you can — and will — improve. If you made a mistake, you have now learned from it. If you have weaknesses, you can take steps to address them. Reflection is important but how you act will determine everything.
Create an action plan for your career and stick to it. Start updating your resume and your LinkedIn profile. Don’t be afraid to show on LinkedIn that you are actively seeking a new role, it could open doors as recruiters are constantly searching for suitable candidates.
Seek out opportunities to connect with people in your network, either in-person or on the phone. They may be able to recommend other people who can help you with your job hunt.
Instead of feeling ashamed or despondent be proactive and invest in yourself. This means covering the bases. Make sure to exercise, sleep and eat right. Taking care of your well-being during a stressful transition is essential, even if the last thing you feel like doing.
Rightly or wrongly the smartest, most talented people often find themselves suddenly out of a job. How you respond and what you decide to do next is key. The most important assets you possess are your skills and your talent. Believe in your ability to move past this set back and don’t let being fired define you.
In fact, getting fired may end up being the best thing that ever happened to you, if you use the experience as a catalyst to move on to something even better.
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