It’s almost always unexpected, it’s always jarring, and usually happens on what starts as a normal day.
You wake up the same way you do every other workday. You follow your usual morning routine, whatever that might look like for you, before you head to the office. When you walk in the door, though, the air seems thicker than normal. Something isn’t quite right.
You’re asked to come into your boss’s office. Jan from HR is sitting off to the side. And your stomach sinks as you realize what’s about to happen.
If you’ve had this experience recently and you’re now asking yourself, “What do I do if I get fired?” you aren’t alone. Plenty of people are laid off or fired at some point during their working careers. In fact, one 10-year study showed that 91 percent of executives who were fired found a new position that was as good as or even better than their previous position.
Unfortunately, millions of people every year find themselves in the same situation. It doesn’t matter whether you receive a severance package or if you have plenty in your savings to fall back on. It’s alarming to be fired from your job.
So, what do you do if you get fired?
Help! What Do I Do If I Get Fired?
You might find yourself at a loss for what to do after you’re fired. It’s earthshattering at the time but you will get through it. There are a few steps you can take to ensure you make the most of this setback and come out of it stronger than before.
If you’re sitting at home right now on your first day of unemployment asking yourself, “What do I do if I get fired?” keep reading. You’re about to find out a blueprint to get out of your rut and back to success.
1. Pause, don’t panic.
It’s an important thing, perhaps even the most important thing, to not send yourself into a panic. It probably feels dismissive to be told, “Don’t panic,” after you’ve been fired, but it’s important. You’re more likely to make rash, emotionally-charged decisions when you take action in a panicked state.
Pause for a moment. Stop running around frantically, set your phone down, and take some time to sit still. Simply sitting and breathing for a moment, as silly as it may sound, can help you gather your thoughts. Then you can take your next steps from a more centered place.
2. Reflect and see what you can learn from the situation.
Sit with yourself for a moment and reflect on what happened in your most recent position. Did your boss or Jan from HR outline exactly why you were fired? Pull out a notebook or fire up your preferred word processor and do some writing about the situation.
You know more about how you conducted yourself at that job than anyone else. Take some time to reflect on how you carried yourself, completed your work, and treated others. Where did you misstep, make a mistake, or go wrong? What are some areas you can grow in? Use this as a chance for growth when looking for a new position.
Take any suggestions your previous employer offered into consideration. Look at the self-reflection you wrote out and see where you can make adjustments. Every opportunity can be a learning opportunity if you have the self-awareness to let it be one.
It’s also important that you don’t beat yourself up. Getting down on yourself for past mistakes won’t make it any easier for you to move forward. Don’t ignore where you went wrong but don’t tear yourself down for it either. Use it as a chance to better yourself in the future.
3. Allow yourself a day or two to process what happened.
There’s no need to rush immediately from your old office to the temp agency with your desk things still boxed up on your passenger seat. You don’t want to settle for the very first opportunity that presents itself to you. You’re more likely to take a position out of desperation that doesn’t line up with what you’re looking for.
Don’t sprint directly from one job straight into the next. All this is likely to do is create another problem you will need to deal with later. If you’re lucky, you might not need to find another job right off of the bat. Instead, you gather your moments of pausing to process what happened and re-consider the position.
Ask yourself what you want out of your next job. Do you want to work in an environment similar to the one at the job you just left? Are you interested in moving into a new industry or do you want to stick with what you were at? Would you like to stay local or are you open to relocating?
You’ll have a more effective job hunt when you take a moment to pause, reflect, and process after getting fired.
4. Start looking for a new job, but don’t lie about what happened.
After you take some time to ensure you move forward with intention, it’s time to start looking for a new job. Update your resume, adjust your LinkedIn profile, and start networking with friends and family. Use your newfound knowledge about yourself and your capabilities to find your next opportunity.
There’s another important thing to keep in mind as you move forward. A common follow-up question to, “What do I do if I get fired?” is, “Should I be honest about it?” People wonder whether they should tell their interviewer that they were fired or if they should try to hide it.
Honesty is always the best policy. Your potential employer will likely find out one way or another and lying looks worse than being honest upfront. You don’t need to offer a longwinded, in-depth explanation of what happened, but don’t try to cover it up.
Getting fired isn’t the end of the world and often provides a springboard into new opportunities and accomplishments! Still wondering, “What do I do if I get fired?” Keep it simple: fix your eyes on what’s ahead of you and use the experience as a catalyst for growth in your life.