The moment you never thought could happen, happened. After a write-up or two (or three or four), one grave mistake that cost the company or maybe a personality conflict with a supervisor, the higher ups have decided to let you go. It can happen to the best of us. Truly. No matter the circumstances, you’re next thought is probably, “Where do I go from here?” Being unexpectedly sent back into the job search is not something anyone prepares for and unemployment isn’t exactly an easy pill to swallow.
First of all, don’t sweat it — it happens to the best of us. Some of today’s notable figures like Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney all have one thing in common — they’ve been fired and managed to overcome it. Before you let your emotions get the best of you, we spoke with career coach Angelina Darrisaw and certified life coach Stacey Singh on ways to help you bounce right back into the workforce for your next opportunity.
Acknowledge and Manage Your Emotions
After you’ve been given the pink slip, you’re filled with a ton of emotions. Shame, anger, confusion, embarrassment and bitterness are all common emotions that comes with getting fired or being laid off.
Take the experience for what it is and recognize that things didn’t work out. This is harder for some because the position and the skills they brought to the company became their identity. Figuring out life outside of this role is new territory to navigate. But Singh emphasizes that it comes down to the root of who you are — not a job.
“It’s like being a painter, who uses their right hand to paint and fractured it. What does that mean? You have no work, no value, and you’re no longer an artist? Of course not. That is not your identity,” Singh says. “How can this transform into something else? How can you be still and learn to create in another way? God knows when you’re dependent on something too much, you’re limiting yourself.”
Whether the company fired you on the spot or gave you a few weeks to get everything in line for the next person, you want to make you leave on good terms. If you’re still having a hard time coping with the loss of your job, it’s best to perhaps seek counseling from a therapist or life coach to help with the following steps.
This step is going to require a huge slice of humble pie. Why? Because this is where ownership, accountability, self-awareness and trying to right your wrongs come into play. After you’ve gotten your emotions in check, request a one on one with your boss and learn from their perspective what led to your dismissal. While it may be minuscule, to your boss it could be a myriad of things.
“Take this opportunity to gather feedback and see how you want to apply it,” Darrisaw said. “Maybe you didn’t meet the speed of the job? When you go into your next opportunity you’ll know upfront to be diligent about timelines. The feedback guides and puts you in a place where you’re not in that same situation again.”
Take this chance to talk about both the good and the bad, and be specific with your questions. Some of the questions you can ask are: What are some of the good qualities I brought here? What are some ways you think I can improve? What are some skills you feel I could learn? What did you expect to see from me in this role? Also, make sure that you’re also asking your colleagues those same questions to get well-rounded feedback.
If you’re unable to have an open-ended conversation with your former boss, reach out to your tribe and have them give you feedback on ways you can improve, especially with those who won’t hold punches.
Turn Your Loss into a Lesson
You’ve gotten all your feedback. Use this time to reflect and turn this loss into a lesson. In hindsight, what could you have done better? What skills do you need to be better? Was there a better way to handle the situation? These are vital questions you need to ask yourself as you’re preparing for the next opportunity.
“You have to find that moment to be still and find the blessing in the lesson. What exactly can you take from this? It’s time to reflect on what you’ve learned, who you are and the do’s and don’ts,” says Singh. “It’s always a learning lesson. Now that you’re fired, you’re no longer belong there.”
Singh emphasizes that one should learn to appreciate themselves and get a gratitude journal. This will help boost your self confidence, and remind yourself who you are and what you bring to the table, especially when it’s time to be interviewed for your next opportunity.
Apply for Unemployment
As often as the job market fluctuates, you don’t know how long you’ll be unemployed, so use this time to file for unemployment by going to USA.gov. Unemployment requirements varies from state to state, so it’s important for you to see if you’re eligible for benefits. You can use this state map to learn more about benefits, job training, tools and the various career services in your community.
If your job is no longer providing health care, you may need to look into Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which gives workers and their families who lost their benefits the right to health benefits for a period of time.
Dust Off Your Resumé
This step already should be a given considering the fact that you’re looking for a new job. If you need help editing your resume, or looking for a new template, there are free resources like My Perfect Resumé, or Canva if you’re looking for more of a creative approach. Canva has a ton of professionally designed templates to help you standout in this competitive job market. Also, be sure to visit your local libraries or community centers that provide resume building and interviewing workshops, so you can not only sharpen your skills, but help spotlight them to your future employer.
It’s All About Your Language
Prepping for an interview is already nerve racking. But now that you’ve been fired you want to make sure you’re always leading with honesty, without explicitly saying, ‘I got fired’. Put together a script of how you’re going to explain your recent job search, if they ask. Darrisaw says you want to use language effectively because there’s still a stigma and shame that comes with being fired. Here are a few examples Darrisaw says you can start with:
“It wasn’t the best fit for us for me or for the company” or “It was time to move on…”. You can also say, “I’m are looking for new opportunities”,”I’m in between jobs and looking for the right one.”
Darrisaw says, “When you’re building a new network, it’s about leading with what it is that you want. So thinking ahead and thinking forward versus looking at what should have happened. That can be hard.”
Tap Into Your Network
Darrisaw emphasizes now that you have free time, it’s important to be strategic with who you’re networking with. However, you should never wait till you’re fired to network.
“If you’re in media, join a Name It chapter because then you’re networking with a bunch of folks across industries that are really in tune with job opportunities. Open up and actively volunteer. They’d get to see you in a work capacity and get a sense of how you’re doing with those tasks. Join an organization that is aligned with the work you’re seeking,” Darrisaw says.
And while you’re trying to expand your network, don’t be afraid to expand your skill set too. If you got fired because of a lack of skill, volunteer or check out free online programs like Lynda, Coursera, and Udemy. If you have a little coin to spare you can check out EdX, where you can take online courses from top universities like Harvard, Massachusetts of Technology, and more.
As you’re navigating the job force, remind yourself that this is just a season and you’re working on planting the right seeds to see what opportunities will sprout.