If you’re reading this, it’s reasonable to assume that you were most likely fired within the past few days. Before you panic, read on to find out about the next steps you should take. It may seem like your world is coming to an end, but don’t freak out yet, because there are countless ways to get back on the path of gainful employment! Here are the first directions to take on your (un)employment journey.
- Mourn and then get over it:
When it comes to being unemployed, you don’t have much spare time to feel sorry for yourself. In today’s turbulent economy, getting back on the job market and seeking employment is a must for anyone who finds themselves recently unemployed. It’s totally fine to feel bad about being fired for a few days, but don’t let that hinder your progress in searching for potential employment opportunities. Feeling bad for yourself, being embarrassed, taking a vacation (this is a no-no; you need to be saving money, not spending it), or hiding yourself away from the outside world is not going to help your case. So, eat way too much of your favorite foods, watch a few episodes of your favorite comedy, and then move on.
- Trim: Compile a list of all the expenses you can live without. Being jobless means living on a strict budget to ensure your savings last for as long as possible. You need to stretch every dollar by trimming the amount of things you’re spending them on. A huge temptation in the interest of cutting costs might be to buy fast food over making grocery store trips, but this is a mistake! Cutting coupons, planning ahead, saving the sale ads, and getting resourceful will be the only effective methods for cutting costs. If you find yourself needing some new business attire or household items, instead of going to the store, go check out your local thrift stores. You will be amazed by the amount of things you can find that are practically new and cost practically nothing, especially compared to the costs of new items from the store.
- Figure out why you were fired: Yes, it will be awkward, and yes, everyone will be uncomfortable, but you need to figure out why you were fired. Send an email to your (firing) manager or meet with him/her in person about the circumstances that led to you being fired. This way you will be able to prepare for potential interviews by knowing the answers to the questions you’d rather not have to answer. In a sense, you will be getting your stories straight so that it doesn’t seem like you’re not telling the whole truth if you say something differently during an interview than what your previous employer disclosed. It may even earn you brownie points with your previous employer, since the contrary reaction to being fired is losing all sense of professionalism. Brownie points with your previous employer may even lead to securing a letter of recommendation from him/her!
- Reflect on why you were fired: Now that you know the circumstances surrounding your firing, you can reflect on the experience. Were you fired for a legitimate reason? Were you fired because of your own poor misconduct? If you knew then what you know now, would you do anything differently? As the saying goes, you need to learn from your mistakes. If mistakes led to you being fired, then reflect on those mistakes so you don’t make them again. You’ll be better prepared for any future jobs you take on.
- Form an Explanation: You will come to dread the imminent questions about why you left your previous place of employment that go along with job interviews, if you do not dread them already. If you actually want to be hired, you need to have a game-plan regarding how you’re going to explain being fired. Please note, though, that formulating an explanation is not the same thing as giving excuses or placing blame. You should give context, facts, and short explanations for any questions that arise. It’s best to approach questions through neutralizing them – you place the blame on no one – not yourself or your last boss. However, if you screwed up, then you screwed up and you need to own up to it. Actually, you should own it! It will show you’ve grown from the experience.
- File for unemployment: Another bonus to knowing the circumstances surrounding being fired is that you can determine your eligibility for unemployment. Many people hold the common misconception that the only ones eligible for unemployment are those who were laid-off. This is false! If you were fired for no good reason or for no fault of your own, chances are that you will qualify for unemployment. Receiving weekly unemployment insurance will help you out immensely with covering the bills and keeping things going while you’re looking for a new job.
- Take an inventory of your references: Over the years, you’ve had many accomplishments and gone through a number of experiences. Take an inventory of all those events and select the ones that will shine the brightest in the eyes of potential employers. References don’t necessarily have to come from previous employers; they can come from anyone you’ve worked for or with! This could have been within the capacity of a volunteer, intern, leader, teammate, and so on. Ask around to see who would be willing to write a letter of reference or recommendation for you. Once you’ve secured a few job interviews, reach out for those letters from the most relevant references.
- Update your resume: Technically, you’re always supposed to keep your resume updated, but most of us don’t get around to it, for whatever reason. You might not think you have much to update, but odds are that you do. Employers are looking for well-rounded candidates – how are you well-rounded? The preferred format and content of resumes is constantly changing. Make sure your resume is up-to-date with the current trends.
- Brainstorm: Considering you’re not currently working, you’re going to have a bit more time on your hands. You need to put this extra time to good use by brainstorming your next career move. You have this amazing opportunity to start over. Obviously you can’t jump into a professional role that you have no experience or training in, but there are tons of options out there. What can you do, how well can you do it, and do you want to do it? Ask yourself these questions to set a few starting points you can branch out from.
- Insurance: If your previous job had insurance benefits, use them! Soon you will be out of the job and out of coverage on your insurance plans. If you are having any health problems, tooth aches, or need prescription refills, schedule your appointments for as soon as possible. Most insurance plans will terminate at the end of the month.