Getting fired— it can happen to the best of us, and it can even happen when it’s not your fault. Many people have been fired due to personality conflicts between themselves and managers or other employees. The idea of what your job was going to be like may be miles away from what management had in mind. Or you could simply have screwed the pooch. It happens and you’re not alone.
Experts believe that at least 200,000 people are unjustly or illegally fired each year. So you’re fired–now what do you do? Do you sulk and cry for a day (pity party, table for one please), probably, but then you get back up and do your best to find something that will work for you. But, you’re fired now, so what are your options? Regardless of whether you were fired for legitimate reasons or not, where do you go from here?
First thing you do is not beat yourself up over it. Getting fired can happen to anyone, even the best employees have been fired at one point, so do not dwell on it. Keep your focus on what you are going to do next and how you’re going to find another job. But, keep in mind that you have another hurdle to overcome – the tag of being fired – has been added to your job search woes. There are ways to overcome this issue and at least put it in a neutral light.
Before you start your job search do some research and see where you stand legally. Your termination could be legitimate or it could be considered wrongful termination. Check and see if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. You don’t know whether you are eligible until you file so that should be the first step after getting fired. Ask your state’s unemployment office, especially if you and your employer have a disagreement on the grounds of your termination. In cases where it is not clear, the unemployment office will often lean towards the unemployed person over the corporation, especially when making a decision on unemployment benefits.
Your Resume and Cover Letter
There is no reason to mention that you were fired in your job search, on your resume or in your cover letter. Just make sure that your job search is positive and you portray yourself in a solid, responsible light. In your cover letter, you can focus on the basics, while avoiding long winded explanations of past employment. Your cover letter should address the specific position you are applying for, make sure that your cover letter is correct and matches each job you apply for, as well as addressing why you are applying, and how you are qualified. There is no reason to bring up your firing in your cover letter or resume. That should wait for your interview, if at all.
Editors Note: Kristi Musgrave is a colleague and friend of mine, as well as today’s Guest Blogger. She has oodles of management experience as well as interesting stories to share. Enjoy!
“I’m laid off?”
I couldn’t believe it. I had worked for a large biopharmaceutical manufacturer for six years. I loved my job. I worked up from a temporary employee in the Microbiology Lab to the Laboratory Supervisor, and ultimately the Quality Operations Manager. During that time the plant had developed into a very successful manufacturing operation. But now we were closing. I understood the financial reasons behind the decision but it was a shock. Now I had a decision to make, do I stay with the company and transfer to one of the other facilities or do I end up laid off?
I was laid off and it was one of the best things that could have happened to me.
Being laid off was the beginning of completely different part of my life. It gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate my life and career goals. As a result, my husband I simplified parts of our lives and learned to live with less, I added a new job title “Mom”, and I changed careers.
Just like most major events in our lives this was a learning experience for me. I learned about different resources I never knew about, programs for free training, extended unemployment benefits, and free career counseling.I even learned that I could happily live without some of the extras I had become use to.
So, what did I specifically do to make this a successful transition? Here are a few things to consider doing after being laid off:
- Take advantages of all unemployment benefits available – In addition to the standard number of weeks of unemployment pay, some states offer extended paid benefits in certain circumstance. There are also state funded programs for free training. Displaced workers who qualify for the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) program can receive a variety of benefits and services, including job training, income support, job search and relocation allowances, a tax credit to help pay the costs of health insurance, and a wage supplement to certain reemployed trade-affected workers 50 years of age and older. That is just one example of the many programs available.
- Evaluate your career goals – This might be something done informally while sitting on the coach at home or more structured with a career counselor. I was able to participate in free career counseling through a local university. Students attempting to complete their master’s degree in counseling are required to complete a number of hours of supervised work prior to finishing their program. I was able to meet with a counselor one on one and discuss my situation. I had access to different career aptitude tests and personality inventories that helped me to better understand what I wanted out of a career and offered career suggestions.
- Streamline your life – Once we found out about the layoff we looked for ways to eliminate all the unnecessary extras that slowly drained money from our budget. We cancelled our satellite service. Since we live in the “country” this meant no television. This is something we talked about doing but just didn’t have the guts to do it. We also eliminated home phone service since we both already had cell phones. We cut grocery bills, drove the more fuel efficient vehicle instead of the newer less efficient one, and opted for home cooked meals instead of carry out. We looked for ways to make ourselves less dependent on two full time incomes.
- Look for nontraditional opportunities – In addition to looking for jobs similar to the one I had, I looked for jobs with alternate work arrangements, flexible schedules, and home based opportunities. I even identified several jobs that I could do where the combined income would be similar to what I made before.
Being laid off can be difficult, but it can also be a time for reevaluating what’s important to you and making some changes in your life and career. For me the end result is a job that I enjoy and more time doing the things that I love.
It starts quietly.
You hear rumblings about it from colleagues; it’s all anyone can talk about. Company morale is low and people are getting panicky. Suddenly, they let go of 25 people in your department with more layoffs expected. 2 months later, you get your pink slip. You don’t have any prospects in sight, everyone you know is laid off, and your resume has been severely neglected.
What do you do now?
For starters, you need to release some emotion and frustration, so plan on going out with your friends and/or family the weekend after you are let go and HAVE FUN. Forget about the job for a day or two and just try to relax. You can’t expect a response from anyone if you apply for a job on a weekend, so there is no sense in worrying.
Next, start contacting old friends, colleagues and relatives to let them know you are on the market. Start social networking– join LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo and/or all the other social networking sites available, set up your profile and let people know you are job searching.
Go to business lunches, job fairs, trade shows and join any associations in your field. Keep your entire job search organized by using jibberjobber (one of my favorite sites for job search management). Get your resume, cover letter and references in order so you aren’t in a panic if you see a job you really, really want.
Doing these things will make you feel productive and will keep the blues at bay. The busier you are, the better you will feel. I notice that clients of mine who are sitting around waiting for the right job have the hardest time. But it’s not only keeping busy with job search, but with other things as well. When was the last time you read a book? Painted? Played golf? Planted a garden? “Interim Time” as I call it (time in between jobs), is a great time to start a hobby you’ve always wanted to do. I read a great article by Brazen Careerist’s, Penelope Trunk who put it perfectly, “5 Things to do when you are unemployed. Hint: it’s not job hunting”. I loved this because it makes sense. Penelope talks about starting a blog, or launching a company, or doing something you’ve always wanted to do.
Before I got the job at the career center, I had 6 months of job search. Yuck. But I took it as an opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do: cross stitch. Sounds silly, but I always thought there is something about a beautiful work of cross stitch that always moved me. It looked so tedious, but at the same time, challenging. So, I went to the cross stitch store, bought a pattern, thread and canvas, and began my work of art. Talk about time consuming! It became my treat to myself , my reward, after sending out resumes, going on interviews, or making connections that day. It was tedious, hard on the eyes and tiresome, but I loved every minute of it. It also distracted me, which kept me from obsessing on the fact that I didn’t have a job.
Make small goals, keep yourself busy and then being unemployed won’t be so depressing. Besides, you’ll be working before you know it and then you’ll wish you were out doing some of the things you could be doing now!