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Maintaining Your Cool after You've Been Fired from Your Job

Maintaining Your Cool after You've Been Fired from Your Job


By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips

A fact of life in today’s business world is that no one’s job is safe. Corporate downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, plant closings, and internal realignments have blown apart the once enduring worker-employer relationship.

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As a result, being let go is no longer the “disgrace” it once was when workers generally stayed with the first company that hired them until they retired. Unless you are extremely lucky or you own the company, getting fired happens to all of us at one time or another. We are no different from major league baseball managers.

In fact, business icons such as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Oprah Winfrey “were all famously fired,” notes Glassdoor contributor Lillian Childress. She quotes Wintour as once telling a conference audience, “I recommend you all get fired. It’s a great learning experience.”

I guarantee that upon hearing an HR officer say, “We have to let you go,” you will not immediately think of your dismissal as a learning experience. But how you handle that blow to your self-esteem is what matters. That, however, might take a little time to register before you take some positive action.

Ask What You Can Do to Make the Transition Easier after You’ve Been Fired

Dr. Marie Gould Harper, Dean of the School of Business at American Public University, says, “First, if the company allows you to remain for a while, ask what you can do to make the transition easier. Don’t burn bridges and leave on a high note.

“Second, contact your network to let everyone know that you are back in the market for finding a new job. By the way, it’s important to always keep your network up to date so you can make contact at any given moment.”

Above all, don’t freak out and create an unpleasant scene. “You don’t want to do something you’ll later regret by exploding in the face of your former boss or otherwise painting yourself in a bad light,” says Thomas Stone, of Business2Community.com. “Try to keep calm and reserve your reactions until you’ve had a chance to breathe and think about your situation.”

“Although people tend to take this unfortunate event too personally, it is important that they must understand that the world hasn’t come to a stop,” advises blogger Florence Jessica. She adds that you shouldn’t be “disappointed in yourself and don’t give up in the face of this adversity.”

Ask about Available Internal Positions

However, if your dismissal was the result of a corporate reorganization and you enjoyed working there, you might ask about other internal positions for which you could apply.

But don’t fall into the trap of using social media to air your issues, complain about your former boss or even ask for advice online, says M.A. Smith of TopResume. “Remember, future employers may be able to see what you post. Negative posts about former employers or getting fired from a job are red flags for hiring managers.”

Also, when you get the chance to apply for a new job, don’t lie about your previous position, Smith advises. “Keep in mind that most new companies ask your immediate past supervisor for a reference.”

If the HR official doesn’t mention it, be sure to discuss a severance package. It should include a continuation of your salary for a determined period of time (some companies use a formula based on the number of years of employment there). Also, and equally important, make sure your health benefits are extended for as long as possible.

While it’s tempting to sign the severance agreement quickly and secure that small financial boost, Stone cautions “don’t be impulsive. A severance package can absolve the company of any legal liability, and depending on the circumstances of your employment and firing, you may need or want to consider legal action.”

Let Anna Wintour’s Career Be an Inspiration in Your Job Quest

Lastly, let British-born Anna Wintour’s career be an inspiration in your job quest. Wintour was fired as fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in 1975 after only eight months on the job. Her failure to understand the American market was the reason given for her ouster.

She moved on to Viva until the magazine folded in 1980. After a few years at various other publications, she landed the top job at Vogue in 1988. In 2013, the Condé Nast publishing company named Wintour artistic director for the company’s magazines while remaining at Vogue.

In May 2017, Wintour was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to fashion and journalism.

So don’t let your dismissal keep you down. You will get back on your career path. But don’t expect to ever be named to the Order of the British Empire (OBE). Unless, of course, you happen to be British.



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