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I Was Fired From My Job, Now What?

Joseph Meyer

Getting fired is painful, one of those situations we all try to forget, but it happens. All to often we get comfortable in our jobs for those who work for an organization/company everything seems be going great and then suddenly you get a dreaded call “Can you stop by HR, we need to discuss something with you”. 

I personally have not gotten many of those calls, one which was back when I had my first real job in 2002 after college, my last role in February 2018 and then this Friday. I had a pretty good streak I guess you can say, some may experience this more often then not, depending on the industry that you are in.

I worked in software, not a developer or anything specialized like that, more like a project coordinator with credit unions. I have been here eighteen months. This position was unexpected but came at the perfect time as I was letting laid off from my previous employer for financial difficulties. This time it wasn’t so cut and dry as the company stated it was for my performance.

Laid before me listed all my indiscretions since I started a laundry list of mistakes, mistakes that most would make learning this position but they felt it was time to let me go.

I am pretty open when things are my fault and I am not one to point fingers, but when you keep open lines of communication open with supervisors and managers and they give you no indication that you were on the rocky road and then get let go it’s pretty devastating at first, I automatically start blaming myself, thinking of myself as a poor employee, unintelligent, worthless, the list can go on.

Although I am not longer in my early career, it still hurts, because as an adult you don’t expect these things to happen to hard worker like myself. I am what you call a self-aware employee, constantly monitoring myself, checking what areas I need improvement, asking for feedback on how I can improve. I think it’s important to do this regularly, but if not you can definitely become lazy on improving yourself, if no one is questioning you.

The question I now ask myself, is where do I go from here?  How do I recover quickly, get a new job and manage not to drive myself crazy from depressive thoughts, worry about paying the bills and taking care of a family. Let me tell you its not easy, my mind has been on the run since last week finding out this news.

Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Oprah. What do all these people have in common? They have all been fired or let go. If you are currently staring at your own pink slip – or anticipating on in the near future-you can take a tiny bit of comfort knowing that you’re in great company.

Where is my approach if you are faced with the same situation:

1. Termination Checklist: Do this Right Now:

When you’ve lost your job, it’s important to check right away on compensation due, benefits, references, and unemployment. If you have been fired and haven’t been informed about benefits, contact Human Resources. In most cases you will know because HR is always involved when an employee is let go.

2. What to do in the days after you have been fired

The day you were fired or let get go, your focus will waver between the immediate and the Long Term. Some of the thoughts running through my heard were how could this happen to me and is my career ruined now? It does help to have a plan especially financial, a strategy for finding a job.

It’s important to remember that not be beat yourself, it can happen to best of us, don’t dwell on it, since it will not help your situation.  to

Instead, focus on what you are going to do next and how you are going to find another job. Keep in mind that another hurdle – the stigma of being fired or let go has just been added to your job search.

3. Things Not to Say (or Do) if you were fired or let go

For those who have been there, it’s easy to feel upset and sometimes it helps when we talk about it. I would say it’s perfectly ok to speak with those in your inner circle, but not to former co-workers, bosses or anyone that has any connection to your old company. In the world of Social Media, it’s easy to blast off on Facebook or Twitter, but don’t do it.

4. Does my employer have to provide notice of termination

Short Answer: Probably not. When an employee is terminated or laid-off, there are no federal regulations requiring employers to give advance notice to the employee unless the employee is covered by an individual contract with their employer. In most cases this will not apply to you.

5. Were you fired for Cause?

When an employee is terminated for cause, they are fired from their job for a specific reason, for example, being chronically late, stealing, spending too much time on social media or having a bad attitude. It’s important to determine this, because it may have an affect over your unemployment benefits.

6. Can you collect Unemployment?

Don’t assume being fired means you are ineligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances, you could still qualify. The exception is if you were fired for misconduct, but you can always apply because your perception of your work history may be different than your employers.

7. Employee Rights

Regardless of how you were terminated, its important to know your rights. Depending on which state you live in. Whether you’re working under a contract, or as an at-will employee, and how the employer typically handles terminations, your rights will vary.

8. How to answer the interview question, “Why were you fired or let go?”

Getting fired isn’t the end of the world, even if it feels like it on the day you receive your termination. Handled correctly, it can be a minor bump in the road of your career.  But the best approach is to speak honestly, but there is no reason to go deep in details on why you were let go, you are still valuable and need to reflect that to new employers. Think positive, again don’t dwell on the termination.

9. Exercise

You may say what does this have to do with losing a job, it has everything to do with your mental health, your physical health and really staying focus. Exercise has the ability to get you out of the house. Go for walk, join a gym, don’t sit home and sulk. Know that you will find

another job and this situation will all be a memory in time.

Moving Forward to Bigger and Better Opportunities

No one wants to deal with these situations, but we must remember this is apart of work for organizations. Especially in California where I am from, where most employers are At-will employment, meaning they can terminate you for no reason at all, as long as it’s not discriminatory then that would be illegal.

It will take adjusting at first, but a couple weeks the feels tend to pass and will focus on the future and know that many times those situations happen for reasons. Keep your head up, exercise, enjoy the time off with family.

I am currently in the stage of shock since it happened a few days ago, but I am sure in time I will move on and realize that what happened could be for the best and new opportunities are waiting for me.  

It’s important to create your own strategy for these situations, because they will happen, thinking about financially saving, having your affairs in order and continuing to look what the job market is like and apply, moving onward and upward, stay positive most of all.

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