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Career: What Now? What To Do After Being Fired

Career: What Now? What To Do After Being Fired

You get to work Monday morning, breakfast and newspaper in hand, when you get called into The Boss’ office. You’re given “the talk.” It’s the one that goes something like, “you know, things just haven’t been working out lately …” and before you know it breakfast is taking a ride back home with you.

It’s happened to many people, but if it happens to you it can seem like the end of the world. So besides panic, what can you do once you have been fired?

Take a day to mope. It would be great if we could all just bounce back instantly from any setback but the truth is we can’t. We spend most of our waking hours on the job, and when something we spent so much time and energy on changes so dramatically, it can take the wind out of us.

It’s important to give yourself time to do some grieving of sorts. Take some time (a day or two is ideal — but, sorry, a month is pushing it) to feel sorry for yourself or let out a good cry. Lie on the couch and watch a movie in your pajamas or call your best friend and vent. Do something to decompress, but once you’ve done it, move on. The lights have to get flicked on at some point, even at a pity party.

What happened? There is something to be learned from every misstep in life and getting fired is no different. Be honest with yourself, examine the situation and determine a way to avoid repeating the same mistake. Ask any manager and the most common reasons for terminating someone’s position include poor performance and attendance. If this was the reason you were terminated, perhaps it was due to not being passionate about the job you held? Try looking into a career path that you feel strongly about so you will want to show up on time everyday and complete all your work. This time, if you’re unhappy, don’t wait until you’re burned-out.

Evaluate your options. Depending on your economic situation, getting fired can either feel like a slight squeeze on your purse or a vise grip. This is the rainy day your parents were always talking about. How can you survive financially while you’re not employed full time? Some jobs will still give you severance pay despite terminating your position. Check with your local unemployment office about collecting benefits.

This is also the time you might need to tap into your savings account. If there are bills you can reduce or eliminate altogether, you should go ahead and do so (movie rentals, magazine subscriptions, premium channels — bid them adieu for now).

You might have to use your credit cards but do so wisely because remember, you’ll have to pay for them once you are on your feet. Is your field the type where you can get temporary work or freelance assignments? Do you have a second job from where you can request additional hours? Can your husband or partner pick up some of the slack temporarily? Every situation is different and not all of these questions will apply, but once you start thinking practically, you will see there are other avenues open to you.

Get yourself organized. Reviewing your cover letter, updating your resume, collecting references and polishing up the post-interview thank you notes — even making sure that interview suit looks good on you — are ways for you to mentally prepare yourself for moving forward.

Besides cleaning up your tools for scoring a better job, this is also the time to do those little things you never had time for when you were working. Whether it’s washing those piles of laundry or cleaning out the closet, get yourself into the mindset that you are starting clean and fresh.

Jump out there again. You’ve done this before: the job hunt. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common methods jobseekers use to find employment include: sending out resumes, reaching out to family and friends and seeking out employment agencies. Tap into every resource, such as the Sunday classifieds in major newspapers, online job boards, industry Web sites and publications in your field. Set a chunk of time aside each day to plow through job listings, make phone calls and send out emails. Treat your job search like a job.

How do you explain? You finally have an interview. You just know they’re going to ask you the question: “Why did you leave your last job?” It’s a standard one after all.

First of all, don’t lie. The best thing you can do is keep it brief and end your answer on a positive note. They don’t need every horrid detail and you do not want to talk negatively about your boss or former company. If you and your boss were at each other’s throats, then say something along the lines of it being a bad fit, emphasizing what you have learned and how you’ve improved for the next job.

If you’re position is terminated, do realize it is only a temporary setback. Use it as a learning experience and as a time to reassess your career plans and life goals. You are capable of coming back and being an exemplary employee who is just as satisfied with her work as her new employer.