You’ve been fired. There’s a lump in your throat, your fists are clenched, and you’re somehow resisting the overwhelming temptation to punch a hole in the office wall (á la Andy Bernard from The Office) on your way out.
Getting the boot is a tough pill to swallow and a definite blow to the ego. And, while your first inclination might be to either completely lose your cool or drown your sorrows in a pint (alright, a full-blown gallon) of Ben and Jerry’s, we don’t recommend either of those reactions (although, honestly, the ice cream can’t hurt).
Being fired will never be easy or enjoyable—there’s no denying that. But, there are a few things you can do after it’s happened to make sure that you act with the utmost poise and professionalism—and that you bounce back even better than before.
1. Take a Deep Breath
First things first, you need to make sure you do your best to keep your composure. Storming out of the office with a string of curse words and both of your middle fingers up in the air really won’t do you (or your reputation) any favors.
Unfortunately, people get fired all the time—sometimes for totally logical reasons and other times for things that come totally out of left-field.
Regardless of your circumstances, it’s important that you take a deep breath, collect yourself, and stay calm—even if your insides are screaming. Flying off the handle will only work against you in the long-run.
2. Analyze the “Why”
Now it’s time to take a magnifying glass to the situation and determine where things went wrong. Basically, why did you end up on the chopping block?
Was it something you did—such as failing to heed your boss’ repeated warnings about showing up late? Or, is it due to a change happening within the company—such as restructuring or downsizing?
I know, taking a hard look at your circumstances can be brutal (particularly when it involves recognizing any involvement in your own downfall). But, it’s an important thing to do before moving on—especially if there are personal changes you need to make before jumping into a new gig.
Plus, getting to the root of the problem now will make it easier to explain your termination when it comes up in future job interviews. Because, believe me, it’ll likely come up.
3. Polish Up
What comes now? Getting ready to jump back on the horse and start job hunting. We all have the tendency to let our personal branding slide a bit (when’s the last time you dusted off your resume or LinkedIn profile?) when we’re employed. So, it’s time to knock off those cobwebs.
Brush up your resume, making sure to change your recent employment dates and switch those responsibilities to past tense. Craft a new cover letter that describes what challenges you’re eager to undertake. And, make sure you polish up your LinkedIn profile while you’re at it.
Taking care of these things now will make sure you’re primed and ready when you find a new opportunity you want to apply for. Even further, you want to make sure you’re ready to go if someone in your network has word of an open job that’s a good fit for you.
4. Spread the Word
Speaking of your network, it’s time to announce that you’re job searching. No, this doesn’t mean you need to divulge the nitty gritty details of why exactly you’re looking again (there’s really no need to start off with a, “I GOT FIRED BECAUSE I LIKE MY THREE-HOUR LUNCHES, OK?!”.)
But, remember that your web of connections can be a huge asset when you’re looking for new opportunities—so, you want them to be in the loop.
Set up a coffee date with a connection you haven’t met with in a while or send a quick email to that well-connected friend of yours. Simply let them know that you’re searching for a new challenge, and that you’d love if they let you know when they hear of great opportunities you might be a fit for.
It’s a basic rule of job searching: The more people you have in your corner, the better off you’ll be.
5. Keep Your Skills Sharp
The job search process can take a while—this you already know. And, the time you have between jobs? Well, you don’t want it all to be spent alternating between applying for new gigs and binging your way through your Netflix queue.
Instead, you’ll want to shift your attention to finding some other ways to keep your skills sharp. Join an industry association or group. Volunteer to help out with a community organization. Take an online course to learn something new.
Not only are these things great resume boosters, but they’ll also demonstrate that you’re willing to take initiative to better yourself (even though you could use that free time to just sit on the couch). That’s a trait any future employer will admire—and it’s sure to help cushion the blow of needing to say you’d been fired.
Being fired is brutal—there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But, instead of losing your cool and wallowing in your own self-pity, there are a few things you’ll want to do right away to better set yourself up for success in the future.
Make sure to do these five things, and you’ll bounce back even better than before!