Sacked, canned, terminated, dismissed — whatever you call it, you can bounce back. Here’s how.
Few of us have total job security. We may not enjoy thinking about it, but the truth is, most people can lose their jobs at any time, with no advance notice, sometimes for no apparent reason.
But lots of ultimately successful people get fired at one point or another. Here’s how they handle it.
They keep it classy. A sudden job loss naturally leaves you shocked, angry, upset and maybe embarrassed (even if you hated the job). And while you may be tempted to lash out or seek revenge, don’t. It’s a small world. Your reputation follows you everywhere. Grit your teeth, keep to the high road, and vent those emotions away from the workplace, in the company of people whom you can trust.
They come up with a story. People will ask what happened. You need to be prepared with an explanation that is concise, true and as positive as possible. Work out a one- or two-sentence summary for you to tell everyone — colleagues, family, friends and potential employers. Consider practicing this summary with the above-mentioned trusted people. Be sure not to say anything bad about your former employer. It only makes you look bad.
They are smart about money. Now is the time to be hardheaded about your finances. If you are eligible for unemployment compensation, take it. Don’t neglect to make sure you get whatever benefits your company owes you — severance, unused vacation or comp time. Search for ways to bring in more money (temping, for example, or renting out a spare room) or to save money (sell your second car, say, or cancel that upcoming trip). Whatever you do, resist the temptation to indulge in “retail therapy.”
Finally, they make and implement an action plan. Said plan should include thinking through next steps and beefing up your network. At the same time, you are allowed to take a break. Being fired can take the wind out of your sails. But do make sure this break has a clear end point. The longer you are without work, the harder it is to find work.
So get moving. Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling were all fired at one point in their careers. They didn’t let it stop them, and neither should you.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.