Job Title or Company Name
State, city
You Are Now Fired. Then What Next?

Category: Applying For Jobs


In this article, I'll present a survival kit that can help
you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

Basically, you must get through five steps in the process of
recovering from the loss of your job: deal with it, damage control, plan of
action, execution, and damage control (reprise). Let's take a closer look at

Deal with it: Sound harsh? Maybe so, but there are many ways to "deal
with it". The most important thing is to get through the denial phase.
Accept that you've been fired and that only you can get yourself back on your
career path. Go ahead; feel sorry for yourself for a day or two. Take some time
to calm down. Unless you seriously intend to pursue legal action, forget about
blame. Admit it was your own fault you got fired, and go on from there. I'm not
going to deliver the usual "whenever a door closes another one opens"
speech, but the fact is, you have nothing to lose. It sounds corny, but making
up your mind to find a better job is the first step to doing just that.

Damage control: Let's not get into the circumstances of your
termination--the fact remains that you must try to sell yourself to another
company. Before you begin your job hunt, you need to take some steps to
minimize the effect getting fired has on your job search. The straightforward
approach is best here. Contact your former supervisor if possible. Explain that
there are no hard feelings, and tell him you intend to search for another job.
Ask what he would say if a prospective employer were to call for a reference.
This can help for a couple of reasons.

First, you may be surprised at the answer. In today’s
litigious society, employers will often go to great pains to smooth the exit
for a terminated employee. If you left on reasonably good terms, your employer
will probably give you a decent reference. If you know in advance what your
former boss will say about your termination, you can smoothly address the issue
in future interviews as a "teachable moment." Explain how much you
learned and that it will never happen again.

But suppose you left on horrible terms, setting your boss'
desk on fire as security dragged you from the building. When you contact your
ex-boss about a reference, he swears he’ll take out an arrest warrant against
you if he so much as hears your name again. At least you’ll know where you
stand, and you'll know not to put prospective employers in touch with him!

Plan of action and execution: This is simple. Get another job. A complete guide on job
hunting is for another article (see our recommended links for some articles
that can help). For our purposes, I'll simply tell you to get busy with your
best job-hunting techniques--networking, resume scattering, door to door,
whatever. Just put together a plan and make it happen. Not sure how to start?
Hey, you got that last job, didn't you? Start with how that happened and work
from there. And no, "execution" does not refer to your former boss!

A tip: You don't have to volunteer on your resume that you
were fired from your last job. Make no reference to it on your cover letter
either. There will be an opportunity to discuss it later. It's not your
obligation to bring it up. Just don't lie about it if asked.

Damage control--reprise: OK, you've wrangled an interview. Now what? Again, you don't
ever have to volunteer that you were "involuntarily terminated". If
the interviewer has any brains at all, he/she will ask. If asked, don't play
word games and dance around the fact that you were sacked. Admit it. Ask for a
chance to explain the circumstances. Few people can pass up what might be a
juicy story, so you will likely get your chance.

With as much graciousness as you can muster, explain why you
were fired, and try to make it sound like it was the right decision. What the
interviewer will be thinking is: (a) are you a psycho, and (b) you look pretty
good so far--was it something all that bad, really? Being gracious and positive
can have an incredible effect--it might actually work in your favor if you do
it right. Make sure you explain that being fired is an opportunity to explore
jobs that better suit you. Arrive prepared to explain exactly why the job
you’re seeking is just such an opportunity.

Do not, under any circumstances, say anything negative about
the former employer. This is vital. No matter how bad you got hosed, you’ll
only look thoroughly unprofessional, or, worse, like a complete nut case.
Furthermore, if you've instituted legal action over your firing, don’t tell the
recruiter. You might think that mentioning a lawsuit will show it wasn’t your
fault you were fired, but what it says to the interviewer is "Hi! I sue
companies for a living. I'll sue you too, and you’d be insane to hire me.” Not
the sales pitch you want!

It's not the end of the world

To sum up, the things to remember if you ever find yourself
holding a pink slip are:

* Accept that you have been fired, and work through it

* Contact your former employer and minimize the damage in
your impending job search.

* Have a real plan for your job search and stick with it.

* Don’t volunteer that you were fired but never deny it.

* Never be negative when talking about your previous
employer. Be gracious and positive when explaining why you lost your job.

Doing these things will not guarantee you another job right
away, but you’ll present yourself in the best light in your quest for new