Help! I Just Got Fired and Need Career Advice

Getting fired is hard. It results in feeling anger and pain. When your boss fires you, you feel disillusioned and confused. Furthermore, when your company lets you go, you become overwhelmed and debilitated with feelings of powerlessness, depression, and fear of inadequacy. Now that your boss has fired you, how do you move your career forward?

Firstly, there is a difference between getting fired and being let go. Being fired is your fault. Something you did or did not do caused your boss to fire you. This is within your control. On the other hand, when the company lets you go, they did or did not do something and it is not something you can’t control.

You might not think the language matters because the result is the same: you are now out of work and unsure how you will support yourself and your family. But it does matter, and knowing the difference has a significant impact on your finance and career. Additionally, determining if you were fired or let go can help you process this traumatic and life-altering event.


Reasons your boss will fire you

  • Performance issues
  • Attendance issues
  • Policy violations
  • Poor quality of work
  • Dishonesty
  • Theft or criminal activity
  • Sexual harassment or discriminatory behavior
  • Physical violence or threats against other employees

Reasons your boss will let you go

  • Reduction in costs
  • Downsizing
  • Reorganization
  • Merger or acquisition
  • Loss of a contract for which your boss originally hired you
  • Changing business needs

Getting fired from your job should never come as a surprise. The conversation you have with your boss should help distinguish if you were fired or let go. See which group above the words your boss used while firing you falls under to determine if you were fired for something you could have controlled or it it were outside of your control.

Even if you hated your job or were struggling in your role when your boss fires you, it can feel overwhelmingly personal. Some much of our identity is embedded in the work we do. While not easy to bounce back, you have to get back on the horse to move your career forward. The following steps will help you recover after you are fired or your company lets you go.

Take time to grieve

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are the five stages of grief. Not everyone will experience each stage or in that order. However, it is vital to give yourself time to grieve the loss of your familiar and comfortable routine. It is nearly impossible to search for a new job when filled with self-judgment, anger, and shame over your boss firing you. Spend a few days processing your emotions so you can get it out and let it go.


Reframe the situation when your boss fires you

Losing your job can quickly become an opportunity. Further, it is a valuable learning experience. When your boss fires you, it doesn’t define you, your skills, or your future. Perhaps that job wasn’t a good match for your skills and personal goals. What have you always wanted to try but were afraid to do so? Maybe your boss wasn’t developing you and being fired is a blessing in disguise. When your boss fires you from your job is a temporary feeling of anxiety. Once that goes away, you have an opportunity to reshape your life. When the boss fires you from your job, don’t look at it as an ending. Instead, view it as the new beginning that it is.

Look for what went wrong

Even when your boss doesn’t give specific problems that led to them firing you from your job, you have some things to work on. Take time for self-reflection to bring awareness to your shortcomings. The best way to avoid carrying them forward to your next job is to identify ways to improve. Think about your past reviews and what your boss praised you for as well as your development opportunities.

Develop your exit story

The chances are high that recruiters will ask about your past employment. If your boss has fired you, this question can easily cause you to panic and ramble. Doing so will eliminate you from their hire list. Instead, practice what you will say that demonstrates what you learned and what you want to do with your career moving forward. Don’t dwell on being fired, and most certainly don’t gossip. Show the hiring manager that you are aware of your shortcoming and are ready to move forward. Get clear on what you tell recruiters, your network, and yourself after your boss fires you.


Make a plan after being fired for your next career

You can’t let too much time pass before you work on finding a new job after your boss fires you. Looking for a new job is a job in itself. Schedule time to update your resume. Research job openings and bookmark the ones that interest you. Contact a recruiter to help you find your next job opportunity. Get active on LinkedIn and ask your network for recommendations. Create a weekly schedule for job hunting activities. The best way to become employed after being fired is to plan your job search and work your plan.

Getting fired is hugely disruptive to your life. Having your employment terminated is devastating and leaves you feeling powerless and inadequate. However, when your boss fires you, it opens doors and creates unexpected opportunities. Rise above feeling like a victim and regain power over your future. Focus on how you can bounce back and take the actions above to recover from being fired from your job.

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Jason Cortel is currently the Director of Global Workforce Management for a leading technology company. He has been in customer service, marketing, and sales services for over 20 years. In addition, he has extensive experience in offshore and nearshore outsourcing. Jason is an avid Star Trek fan and is on a mission to change the universe by helping people develop professionally. He is driven to help managers and leaders lead their teams better. Jason is also a veteran in creating talent and office cultures.

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