Your boss says she needs to see you. Immediately. You head to her office, and she closes the door. Her boss is there, too, and so is the head of human resources. When you sit down, you hear your boss say the words no one wants to hear: “This isn’t working out. We’re going to have to let you go.”
You just got fired.
If you’re like many people, you’re shocked, even if you knew you weren’t performing the way you needed to if you wanted to keep your job. On the other hand, maybe getting fired comes as no surprise; your manager told you clearly that if you didn’t improve, and quickly, she’d be terminating your employment. Whether you expected to be let go or not, you now find yourself needing a new job—and fast.
If you were recently fired, here are some tips to help you get back on track as soon as possible.
Tip #1: Don’t despair.
Getting fired feels bad. It’s a rejection, which is never a fun experience, and then there’s the added stress of losing income and taking a hit to your professional reputation.
You will recover from this. Let me repeat that: You WILL recover from this. Unless you got fired for something particularly egregious, like violence or theft, you’ll be able to find a job again. Many people before you have been fired and then gone on to have successful careers. I know it’s hard to believe now, but you might even be glad one day that you left this particular job behind.
Tip #2: Be very careful how and where you complain.
It’s understandable if you’re angry about getting fired, and you might be tempted to unload that anger. Don’t do it! While you can certainly talk through what happened with close friends and family, think twice before lambasting your old company or ex-boss to professional acquaintances or on social media. You want to avoid doing anything that might hurt your job search.
Research suggests that complaining about something can make you even more unhappy, so while we think venting makes us feel better, it can actually make things worse. This article from Inc. explains more. Do yourself a favor: process your feelings, but don’t get stuck in an endless cycle of venting.
Tip #3: Reflect on what happened.
Why did you get fired? Maybe your boss is a jerk and the whole situation was incredibly unfair, with you blameless. Most of the time, though, there’s a reason when someone gets fired. Maybe you didn’t have the skills this particular position required. Perhaps you weren’t a good fit for the fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment. It could be you let yourself get careless, and you made too many mistakes that cost your employer money, time, or status.
If you can be brutally honest with yourself and take responsibility for your part of the whole thing, you’ll avoid finding yourself in a similar predicament in the future. You may also be asked about the firing in interviews, and introspection is the key to formulating a satisfying answer.
Tip #4: Move on.
Take a few days if you need to and get your head right, and then jump right back out there. Look for jobs. Network. Think about retraining or continuing your education, if that’s something you want to do. Write the best resume you’ve ever written and then start applying. Dwelling on your old job won’t help you find a new one, but engaging in a well-organized job search will.