There’s no need to sugarcoat it. Getting fired from your job can turn your world upside down. And it may take some time for you to get back on your feet — especially if you got fired unexpectedly. But, with the right mindset, you’ll get there.
That’s why, in this post, I’m sharing the 9 things you should do immediately after getting fired from a job. These tips range from how you handle things with your now ex-employer to how you approach landing a new job — without stumbling on interview questions like “why did you leave your last job?”
But before we get into those tips, I want to help you see a new perspective on your situation…
If You’ve Been Fired From Your Job
Yes, getting fired feels awful. But don’t be too hard on yourself. You didn’t fail or permanently ruin your career. You just gained a new experience you can learn from. And, in the long run, getting fired could even be good for your career.
A recent study of over 2,600 leaders found that 45% of them had experienced a major setback in their career like being fired. And, still, 78% of those “failed” leaders eventually went on to become CEOs.
So, hope’s not lost. You can pick yourself back up! How? By starting with the 9 recommendations I share below.
9 Things You Should Do Immediately If You’ve Been Fired
Getting laid off or discharged from a job takes some people a while to bounce back from. But it doesn’t have to completely take you or your career off track. Here’s what you can do:
Ask for feedback on why you were fired
You may already know the reason you got fired. But if you don’t know, ask. This will probably feel uncomfortable. Yet, knowing the reason is for your own good. It helps you to identify weaknesses, describe the reason accurately if you’re asked in a future interview, and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again.
Check the status of your employee benefits
Is your health insurance tied to your job? If so, check with the HR department to see how much longer you’ll have coverage. Do the same for any other employee benefits you depend on. And if you’re laid off and eligible for severance pay, negotiate the terms and amount as much as you can in your favor.
See if you qualify for unemployment
Unless you were fired for misconduct, you should qualify for unemployment benefits. But you’ll need to check to be sure. In most states, you can check online, by phone, or by mail. To find the information you need, google “[your state] unemployment”.
Leave on good terms
You might feel that you didn’t deserve being fired. And you may be right. But I really encourage you to resist the temptation to say or do things you could later regret. You never know when you might need to list a boss or supervisor under your resume references section. You also don’t know who they may know at the next company you hope to work at. So, don’t burn the bridge. It’s just not worth the risk!
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
You’re likely already thinking of how you’ll find your next job. But before you start sending out applications or reaching out to your network, update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Yes, you can start by updating the information about the job you’re about to leave. But, don’t stop there!
Do some work to optimize your LinkedIn profile so that it presents you as a potentially good fit for the type of role you hope to land next. If it’s really optimized, it should also help recruiters find your profile.
Also check to make sure you’ve optimized your resume to pass applicant tracking systems. Generally, the means you’ve done things like used the right resume keywords, written strong bullet points that demonstrate measurable value, and demonstrated proficiency in relevant skills.
Reach out to your network
You don’t need to tell everyone you’ve been fired. But it is a good idea to let people in your network know you’re looking for new opportunities. For example, you may want to set up some informational interviews, send follow up emails to people you’ve recently met, or just ask for advice on what others would do in your shoes.
Who knows? You may end up getting a referral to work at the same company as someone in your network. Or, better yet, you could find out about job openings that might have never even appeared online!
Consider temp or freelance work while looking for your next job
There’s nothing wrong with having short gaps in employment on your resume. But if you want to continue working while you look for your next full-time job, consider reaching out to temp agencies or picking up some freelance work.
Either of these options allows you to continue working on your skills, build relationships with people at different companies, and make some money. If you bring a lot of value to the temp or freelance role, it could even turn into a full-time gig or side hustle!
Prepare to talk about being fired in interviews
The next person who interviews for a job might not know you got fired. But they will likely ask questions about why you left your last job. So, what should you do? Lie and give one of the other reasons for leaving a job? Nope! Be honest but spin your answer so that it puts you in a positive light.
For example, you might say something like:
“My last job was going through a restructuring process and terminated my role. It was unfortunate, but it gave me the opportunity to get clear on what I wanted from my next job. I realized that I wanted to work somewhere that I could not only use my current skill set but be pushed to expand my abilities at a company with a mission aligned with my personal values. That’s why I was so excited when I spoke with Maria in HR here at XYZ company about this opportunity. It sounds like the perfect fit for what I’m currently looking for!”
Take some time for yourself
I know I said to act on all of these things immediately. But that only applies if you’re in the right headspace to do it without running yourself into the ground.
So, if you need a few days or more to begin doing things like updating your resume or reaching out to your network, take the time off. Just don’t spend too much time dwelling. Instead, focus on recharging to be ready for the next opportunity that comes your way.
Getting fired isn’t the end of the world. But it can, understandably, set you back a bit. To get back on your feet as soon as possible, try out the 9 pieces of advice I’ve shared here.
And remember: this may just be life redirecting you to something better like your dream job! If you're ready to find that, check out my guide on how to land a job without applying online!