What to Do When You Get Fired Unexpectedly

Don't let getting fired overwhelm you!

Businessman being laid off, carrying box of belongings in office
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Suppose you go to work each day and really think you are doing a good job and one day all of a sudden you go into work and you’re told that you are being fired and that this is your last day?

Today we had this conversation with a recent alum that had just graduated last year. As can be expected she was very distraught when she learned that she was being fired for no apparent reason. She had started at the company as an intern and in only 2 months she was hired for a full-time regular position. Initially, she was thrilled to get this job and that her job search was finally ended but after only 6 months on the job she went in and found herself getting fired.

As with many situations when employees are fired on the spot, there is usually a great deal of information that the employee does not know. This person was told that she was fired due to her boss’s inability to turn the department around and that she was let go as a result of this and because the company was doing some restructuring. The good news was that the company told her that they would issue her a paycheck for the next couple of weeks but once she realized that a deposit had not been made into her bank account, she called the company and was told that she was fired for cause and that the company was retaining a lawyer.

This can be an unsettling experience for anyone fired from a job, but for a new graduate, it can be extremely upsetting when they are not at all sure why they were fired in the first place. The fact that the company first offered to pay her wages for the next several weeks and then turn that around and say that she may be facing a lawsuit, the entire situation went from bad to worse and she found herself concerned about her ability to find a new job.

Tips on What to do When You Get Fired

  1. Don’t let getting fired overwhelm you.Like most people, you probably think getting fired will never happen to you. Unfortunately, many people get fired for various reasons and oftentimes it is no fault of their own.
  2. Maintain your self-confidence and self-esteem.Even though once you learn that you’ve been fired and are naturally feeling shocked by the experience, it’s important to put the situation into perspective and realized that it may have more to do with the company than it does about you.
  3. Check to see if you are eligible for unemployment benefits.Unfortunately firing an employee abruptly and for no apparent reason seems a bit unfair since there are basically no laws to protect employees from these kinds of situations. In this instance, the employer may have threatened a lawsuit to keep the employee at bay and to even discourage her from applying for unemployment benefits. Definitely, find out if you qualify for unemployment.
  4. Clean up your resume and cover letter and begin sending it out to employers.Once you get over the initial shock of being fired, it’s important to take a proactive stance and begin getting your resume and cover letter out there.
  5. Begin networking with family, friends, faculty, previous employers, etc.Don’t let getting fired hold you back from contacting your personal and professional network. This may seem difficult at first but you’ll be amazed at how people will understand and be willing to help you in your search.
  6. Don’t bad mouth your previous employer.Bad mouthing a previous employer is a sure way of not getting hired once you complete an interview. Potential employers do not want to hear bad things about previous employers and it may get them thinking negative thoughts about you.
  7. Find people you can do some practice interviewing with or practice alone making sure you do it out loud.The best advice we have for ​preparing for an interview is practice, practice, practice. You will want to make sure you get most of your mistakes out there prior to the actual interview.
  8. Don’t lie on your resume, cover letter, or in an interview.Keep your resume and cover letter positive by focusing on your strengths and interests and what you have to offer the company. For the interview be prepared to answer the question, “Why did you leave your previous employer?” The best way to answer this question is to keep it short and sweet and focus on changes or restructuring that may be taking place in the company.
  9. Be prepared to move on.Too many times it’s easy to focus on something negative that’s happened to us in our life. When it comes to the job search it’s important to forget or learn from the past and move on as quickly as possible. Keeping yourself positive and focusing on the future will help you to be prepared and focus on the next steps required to become successful in the workplace.