It happens to many of us throughout our work career. It could be in the form of a lay-off situation, or it could be a straight-up dismissal for cause. The end result is the same. You are without a job. You’re in shock, and it hurts.
Here are the things to do and what you don’t want to do. They are intertwined below, and the latter is as important as the former.
1. Don’t speak badly about the company you have just left.
Avoid this like the plague on social media and in-person. It reflects poorly on you more than anyone and is something that a new employer never needs to hear, whether it’s straight from your mouth or from another source like your trustworthy Facebook page.
Instead, focus on how much you learned there, what you appreciated about the experience, and why it wasn’t the best fit for you. All those things are true.
2. Ask for help on every front.
Ask for help from professional Recruiters, friends, and family. Ask for advice on social media, particularly LinkedIn. Sign up to work with a Career Coach like me. Move past the present situation and focus on your future.
It’s also okay to ask your former employer or co-workers for a recommendation. You’ll get a lot more “yes’s” than you think, and having that recommendation from your last employer will help your job search.
Remember that dates and duties are all a previous employer should legally disclose about you. That said, you can ask about how any reference checks will be handled. This will cast you in the light of being savvy about employment law while providing a subtle reminder around legalities. Some companies aren’t as tight around this as they should be.
3. No negative action, please.
Talking about your previous company or co-workers isn’t worth it. Ranting on social media won’t feel as sweet right after you hit the send button. Keep those bridges intact and take the high road.
You want your previous employer to feel very kindly disposed to process your severance and benefits owed, speak nicely about you during background checks, and say positive things about you in the workplace you’ve left. The one word to keep in mind here is professional. How would the most professional person you can think of handle this situation?
4. Don’t be afraid to talk about the elephant in the room.
It’s normal not to want to discuss the “why” of the termination with your previous employer. However, if someone is released from a job, they are legally owed an explanation. You’ll probably get this feedback during the dismissal conversation. Make notes as it’ll be hard to focus adequately.
Use the feedback after you are gone, and the smoke has cleared from your mind to evaluate how you need to improve realistically. There are usually a few nuggets of truth that can be mined to help you moving forward.
5. New beginnings ROCK!
“Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me.” It’s a saying for a reason. Many people genuinely feel that way after they are on a new and better path. I know I did.
It’s important to honor your feelings of fear, anger, and shame. That’s normal. Just don’t stay there. Formulate your action plan and take the steps that you decide are best.
There’s something so nice about a fresh start and clean do-over. It will begin to fill you with hope rather than despair for your future. You can do this!