Maybe you messed up, maybe someone else did something wrong and blamed you, or maybe your boss just doesn’t like the fact that you exist! Whatever your reasons are, the mere fact that you’re fired still remains.
So, what should you do now? (Note: Insulting your boss, prank-calling your manager and vandalizing your past office building – while tempting – should not be your plan of action!)
Here are 12 essential things that you should do after being terminated from your job.
1. Remain professional.
Respectfully ask the reason for the termination and research whether it’s valid or not. Pay attention to the termination meeting and use logic. Yes, you may be feeling extremely frustrated right now, but think about the long-term picture here. You don’t want to burn any bridges, do you?
2. Negotiate for the most favorable deal possible.
Most people make the mistake of signing everything too soon without acknowledging that they can still negotiate many things to fall in their favor. Yes, you’re fired already, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have any right to ask. Who knows, your boss may feel guilty and help you out!
3. Ask for extra time.
You’re not supposed to be pressured into signing the termination papers on the spot. Give yourself some time to think about it and to consult a professional, as needed. Keep in mind that no one will care more about your rights than you.
4. Consider asking for a reference.
You can definitely get a good reference from your company because you still have something that they want – you haven’t signed the severance package yet, so you still have a substantial amount of leverage.
5. Find out how your termination will be relayed to future references.
The basic template should compose of:
- Dates of employment;
- Last position held; and
- Final compensation.
You and your boss (or your manager) should agree that your past company will be using only neutral language to describe your departure. Make sure that your future employers won’t see you as a liability upon reading your reference. Also, there should be an agreement that only the human resources department will respond to reference requests in the future.
6. Get it documented.
Most of the time, you can’t just rely on people to keep their word. In this case, it’s better for you to get a reference letter that states the reasons that you and your manager have agreed upon. Tell them that you need a copy of it first before you sign anything.
7. Vent – but don’t do it online!
What you post online says a lot about you. Find a supportive loved one or a (non-work) friend and cry your heart out. Just don’t tell the whole world what happened – your past boss certainly won’t appreciate the fact that you cursed him in your Facebook status, you know.
8. Send a thank-you letter.
Once you’ve negotiated everything and gotten what you want, be the bigger person and send your management a thank-you letter. Email just won’t do it! Make an effort to actually reach out and communicate your gratitude. Who knows? They may be super-impressed and regret that they’ve lost you.
9. Analyze your situation objectively.
Don’t be biased and blame everyone else but you. You were fired for a reason, weren’t you? Find out what this is and vow to work on it so that it won’t hinder your future job.
10. Find out what you want your next job to be.
You’re the only one who can determine what you want to do with your life. Perhaps you were fired because you never really liked your job in the first place. Describe your dream job along with the responsibilities you will have and the credentials you need to show. Consider being fired as a blessing – it can be your final push to encourage you to pursue something that you’re really passionate about.
Maybe you can even build your own business!
11. Update your résumé.
Dedicate a day to work on developing a winning résumé. Add the achievements you’ve gotten from your past job and target your résumé to a specific industry that you’re considering. Sloppy ones will never get you your dream job.
12. Attend networking events.
Now’s the time to network with other professionals in your field. You can even go beyond this and go to professional development conferences: just because you’re fired doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to improve yourself anymore.
Get out there and improve yourself! And remember, your work is just a part of you – it doesn’t define who you really are. All of us have the right to work on something that we’re really passionate about. If you think that your job made you stressed, unhappy and angry all the time, then thank God you were fired!
You can start over again.