In the moment you hear you’re being let go, amidst the shock and emotion you may be feeling, it’s crucial to know that there are professional ways to handle being fired. While losing your job can seem like the world is crashing down around you, knowing how to navigate through the awful situation with grace and dignity could mean all the difference. While I sincerely hope you’ll never need to use these ways to handle being fired, should that dreadful day come, you’ll be prepared for the worst.
1. Just Breathe
When you first receive the news of your termination, one of the best ways to handle being fired without losing your cool is to focus on keeping calm. Keep your breathing controlled so you won’t hyperventilate or destroy any office furniture in a fit of rage. Take a moment to let the news settle before you speak and just breathe through it.
2. Apologize and Ask Questions
One of the hardest things to do during the termination process is to politely accept your fate. But if you can apologize for not meeting the company’s expectations and inquire as to how you could have done things differently, you’ll learn an important lesson for the future workplace.
3. Build Bridges Don’t Burn Them
Leaving an employer on good terms is always an asset to have. Throwing around profanity or trash-talking other employees is a terrible idea for several reasons. It won’t save your job and it won’t work in your favor when hunting for a future job. If you’d like to use your previous employer as a reference, leaving on the best possible terms will speak volumes about your professionalism. If you’re enraged, keep it to yourself...at least until you’re a safe distance from the office.
4. Grieve the Loss but Get Back to Work
Take a little time to put the past behind you, but make getting back into the working world a priority. Don’t wallow in the grief stage too long or you’ll lose the motivation to make a fresh start. Get out there and hunt for the next dream job. Just because things didn’t work out with your last employer doesn’t mean you should mourn forever.
5. Avoid Playing the Blame Game
Losing your job could stem from a variety of reasons. Perhaps the company is overstaffed and you’re the last one in and first one out. Maybe despite meeting the deadlines, there was a personal conflict of interest that didn’t make you a good fit for the company. Maybe you just didn’t connect with the company and weren’t able to truly give it your all. Whatever the reason may be, accept the fact that not everything works out at the time. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame the secretary, or the supervisor, or your former coworkers at the water cooler. Just remember that some things fall apart so that even better things can fall together.
6. Brush up on Interview Etiquette
It’s the one interview question that seems to be asked around the world. “Why did you leave your last job?” If you’ve been terminated from your previous employer, this can be a delicate question to address. The best thing you can do is to answer honestly, but briefly. Telling a potential employer that you got fired because your previous boss was a big, fat, middle-aged jerk is probably not the the best course of action. Instead you could say that there was an irreconcilable difference, but you gained a lot from the experience at the company overall. Many people have been fired, but the people who know how to handle this interview question gracefully are more likely to get the next job.
7. Remember That Getting Fired is like a Breakup
Sometimes it helps to look at the relationship you have with your job like any other relationship in your life. Some jobs are in it for the long term. Some jobs are just casual flings. Some jobs will even break your heart. But as bad as the breakup with your place of employment may seem, there’s always something even better out there waiting for you. So put on your big girl pants and move on. You’re strong and you’re capable of getting through it. Trust me.
In today’s uncertain economy, losing your job can seem catastrophic. But sometimes, leaving the employer with your dignity intact is the best exit strategy. Though it may temporarily feel better to pound your fists on the manager’s desk and spew a stream of profanity, handling the situation professionally is the best long term solution. Keep your head held high. Consider all that you’ve learned and how you can take it with you into the next phase of your career. Hopefully you have never been given the “it’s not working out” talk from your employer. But if you’ve been there, what words of wisdom do you have on handling being fired from your job?