Water Cooler August 2015: The First Five Things to do When You Get Fired

man-getting-fired-from-hi-006by Melany Hallam

Question: Have you ever been fired? Take the survey

There’s a lot of advice out there on what to do if you’re fired from your job. The most important first step, however, is Don’t Panic!

This is my favourite piece of advice for whatever happens to you in your life. Before you go off the deep end, take a day or two to think about what’s happened and accept it. This will go a long way toward helping you think realistically about what to do next.

There are many reasons you might be fired; including incompetence, staff reductions, mergers, and changes in company direction, personality clashes, political conflicts, and bad chemistry with the boss. But they all fall into two categories: (a) not your fault (nothing to do with your job performance) or, (b) your fault (something you did or didn’t do). Your action plan following a job loss will be surprisingly similar in either scenario.

  1. Set a cooling-off period

Getting fired or laid off can leave you feeling rejected and angry. Shock, sadness, worry, and fear about the future are all perfectly normal reactions. But acting out is never a good idea – you don’t want to burn bridges with a well-connected former employer or damage your reputation in town (especially a small town like Powell River, where bad news travels fast). Once you get to the point where you can think more clearly, you’ll be more likely to come up with a practical plan on what to do next. If you’ve been laid off, your former employer may even offer to help you in your job search. Don’t reject this offer out of anger. You’ll need all the support you can get!

  1. Tell only a trusted few

At first, keep the news to your closest friends or family – those people you trust and who believe in you. This will help you accept what happened and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it!

  1. Stay home

You might really feel like running away on a beach vacation somewhere, but you’ll still have to deal with your job loss when you return home. First, review your finances – you may not be in as bad a situation as you think. You’ll also need to review your severance package (if any) and make sure that you’re getting all of your pay, vacation pay, pension plan contributions, etc. before you leave your job. You may be able to negotiate a better deal. Make sure you find out from your employer exactly why you’ve been fired. You may determine that you’ve been wrongfully terminated and pursue legal options. For more on your rights as an employee, see the BC Employment Standards on termination here: https://www.labour.gov.bc.ca/esb/facshts/termination.htm. Do you qualify for Employment Insurance? Receiving Employment Insurance is a possibility even if you’ve been fired, depending on the circumstances and fairness of the dismissal. Check with Service Canada for your options. EI can give you some much-needed breathing room.

  1. Hold off on applying for a new job

If you can, take some time to really think about what happened at your old job and use this information to figure out what kind of work you want to do next. Maybe you liked your work, but not your company. What qualities do you want in new employer? Maybe you were fired because you didn’t have all of the skills required. How can you upgrade your skills and become more valuable to your next employer? Maybe you hated your job and only stayed for the money. What kind of work would you be happier doing and how do you get there? This is an excellent opportunity to reflect and plan for your future and tailor your résumé to your new goals. In all these cases, a Career Link counsellor can outline all the employment services you are eligible for as a job seeker, and help you plan your next steps.

  1. Put a positive spin on it

Once you’re ready to get out there again, stick to the facts when talking about your job loss. A lot of angry talk about a former employer can give people the impression that you’re a difficult, negative person. This won’t inspire them to help you network your way into a new position. Talk about the job or company as not being a good fit for you – that you’re now excited to be looking for something more suited to your interests. Or admit that you didn’t have all of the skills necessary for the job, but that you’re now doing some re-training. People will see that you’re a positive, hard-working person and that will go a long way toward helping you achieve your new goals.

The trick to handling being fired or laid off – as with any devastating news or event – is to keep looking forward. There’s nothing you can do to change what happened, so how can you learn and move on? Is this your opportunity to figure out what you really want to do with your life?

Who knows, maybe being fired will have been the best thing that ever happened to you!

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