Author of "Your Journey from Fired to Hired"

7 Critical Steps After Being Fired

“You’re Fired!”  Two words that no one wants to hear.  Admittedly the fear of hearing these words propelled me towards the land of Type A and classic “Over Achiever” for most of my professional career.

But then what I had dreaded for so long happened.  And I realized that I had been absolutely crazy to waste so much thought and energy on something that was really so insignificant.

You see, like most people I didn’t plan to get fired on that hot August day.  But what I learned very quickly is that my problems were really insignificant.  You see at almost the exact same time that I heard the words, “You’re Fired” a dear friend in her 50’s suffered an aneurism.

While I was simply dealing with the fact that I didn’t have a job, she was truly fighting for her life!  And oh so quickly I had a new perspective for something that I had always feared.

But if you (or someone you know) has heard those dreaded words and is struggling to move on, then this post is for you.

1. Accept Responsibility. One of the most frustrating things about being fired is the loss of control in your own destiny.  And yes, while most of us are “at will” employees and can be fired for literally no reason, there is usually something you could have changed, or averted or even improved. Sure, some bosses are jerks and unreasonable.  But at the very least, you need to accept responsibility for realizing the situation was less than desirable and leaving while you could do so on your own terms.

2. Allow Yourself to Grieve. Much like you need time to grieve after the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up, grieving is an important part of your journey after being terminated.  Every person and situation is unique, so there’s no playbook for this part.  But it’s critical that you embrace your emotions…which by the way will likely run from frustration to sadness and embarrassment.   But the most important thing is to allow yourself to express your feelings and communicate your thoughts to those in your inner circle

3. Learn and Improve. Like many things in life, getting fired can be an opportunity to better your situation.  But before you can improve, it’s important to identify the root reason for your termination.  Was it because of work quality?  If so, consider finding some training to shore up your skills.  Or perhaps you struggle with deadlines and getting work completed on time.  Then, maybe you could focus on improving time management skills.  Bottom line:  Before your healing can begin you’ve simply got to come to grips with what part of your job you could have done better and vow to learn from it.  If you truly don’t know (or understand) why you were fired, then you may want to schedule some time to visit with the Human Relations department at your former employer.  With that said it’s important that you approach this meeting with a desire to learn and understand so that you can literally improve yourself from the experience.

4. You’ve got Company. It’s important to realize you are not the first (nor last) person that will be fired.  In fact, in 2013 over 19 million other people heard the same words. And not only do you have lots of “friends” on the same journey, many of them are folks you would recognize.  Did you know that Walt Disney; Oprah Winfrey; Bill Belichick, J.K. Rowling and Lee Iacocca were all fired before they later experienced phenomenal success?  For more on this and an overall roadmap to find success after being terminated, check out my latest book, “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.”

5. Find that Silver Lining. While admittedly you may not have wished for the career detour, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a positive experience.  With a positive outlook, you may in fact realize that perhaps you weren’t happy or fulfilled.  Or maybe you were completely stressed out of your mind and missing important time with family or friends.  Regardless, the mind and attitude are powerful things.  Convince yourself that this was a fate worse than death and you’ll likely struggle to move forward.  But look for that silver lining and you may actually consider yourself lucky!  For more on this, check out my post, “7 Benefits of Being Fired.” 

6. Lend a Hand. Over the past decade, it has been wonderful to see a higher emphasis placed on volunteerism by organizations. In fact, many companies are now beginning to offer paid time off work so that employees can volunteer.  Admittedly these companies often gain some free PR for their generosity, but they also benefit by having happier and more engaged employees.  You see, it’s tough to volunteer for a cause and not feel incredibly lucky…even if you did just lose your job!  The act of helping someone less fortunate and the internal feel good can be just what the doctor ordered at a time when your self-esteem has taken a serious kick to the stomach.

7. Call in the Pro’s. While grieving is a natural part of the process, if you can’t move past this stage or find that these emotions are controlling your every thought, then it’s likely time to seek the help of a professional therapist.  There is certainly no shame in having the courage and tenacity to seek out help so that you can move forward from what is most assuredly a life-altering event.  And if you’re open to counseling but can’t afford the fees, you may want to check with your former employer as many include counseling services in their termination packages for a period of time.

I’d love to hear from you.

Were you fired?  And if so, where are you at in your journey back?


Article written by:

Kathi Miller-Miller is a sought after career specialist and author of “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” Kathi draws on her 25+ years of success (and failures!) to offer her readers advice on topics ranging from dealing with a boss that drives you crazy to managing millennials...all in a light-hearted and easy to read style.

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