“You’re Fired!” Two words no one ever wants to hear. But it happens. And people are fired without warning more often today than ever before. The reason? Most states have no adopted the concept of “at will” employment. The main premise is that we get to keep our jobs “at the will” of our employers. In states where this is practiced, you can literally be fired for wearing a purple tie when your boss doesn’t like purple. And believe it or not, you would have no legal recourse.
So gone are the days of progressive discipline where you may have gotten a verbal, and then a written warning and then perhaps even a couple of days unpaid from work before being fired. Today, many folks happily leave the house in the morning and return with a pink slip eight hours later. And often, there’s no warning that this is coming, If that’s you, check out the tips below for some basic tips to start your journey.
1. Take time to accept what has happened. It's likely that this was a catastrophic event in your life and it’s critical that you take some time to process all of it before you start job hunting. Trying to interview for your next position before you have your confidence back and can give a non-emotional explanation of why you are no longer employed is a disaster waiting to happen. Besides, if you are like most people that were fired, you are still trying to figure out what just happened and don’t even begin to know what kind of jobs/careers interest you. Time spent to catch your breath, regroup and develop your job search strategy will be time well spent.
2. Consider how you want to tell your story. While initially you may have blurted out that you were fired, by giving yourself some time to reflect chances are that you will develop something that is much more palatable. You may decide to indicate that you resigned or were a victim of downsizing. Regardless of how you present it, realize that you only get one shot to tell people what you want them to know and accept as the truth. Consequently, it is vitally important that you actively consider this step.
3. Deal wih necessary housekeeping stuff. Start by contacting the human relations department at your former company. While I realize this may be the last call that you want to make, it's actually the first one you should make. When you talk to them your first priority is to find what potential employers will be told when they call for reference checks. Under no circumstances do you want to fill out any job applications until you know what this response will be. It some cases, they may only confirm your employment dates and duties. In others, they may indicate if you are or are not a candidate for rehire. Knowing how this question will be answered will be critical as you develop your interview strategy.
4. File for unemployment benefits. There are two main reasons that this deserves attention early in your process. First, since you were not expecting to be unemployed, it’s likely that you may not be flush with the cash you need to pay your bills. Secondly, even after you complete your enrollment, it can still take a while before you start receiving payments. You should check with your state unemployment office regarding the specific criteria for your state of residence, but many states carry a one week waiting period. In essence, that means your pay is delayed one more week even after your benefits are approved. Also, due to the fact you were fired, you need to realize that you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits and the sooner you know if you will qualify for this benefit, the sooner you can make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle and your budget. Check out this article for more specifics on creating a budget after being fired.
After being fired, these are just a few of the things that need your attention before starting your job search in earnest. If you are interested in more tips that may help you through everything from dealing with the shock to accepting that next job, check out my newly released book, “Your Journey from Fired to Hired”.
Were you blind-sided by fired? If so, please comment and tell me your story!