You're Fired - What Now?

Jun 5th 2012
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By Terri Eyden

Unfortunately, getting fired can happen to any of us. Even if it's not your fault, it can happen. Experts estimate that at least 250,000 workers are illegally or unjustly fired each year, and that's not counting those that were justifiably terminated.

We've gathered the following tips to guide you, or someone you know, through what can be a difficult and traumatic life event. 

Employment expert Alison Doyle shared her advice with

Don't beat yourself up. "Focus on what you're going to do next and how you're going to find another job. Keep in mind that another hurdle ‒ the stigma of being fired ‒ has just been added to your job search. That said, there are ways you can address this issue and put it in at least a neutral, if not a positive, light", Doyle says.

Legal issues. Doyle advises",Before you begin a job search, consider where you stand from a legal perspective. Was your firing legitimate or could it be considered wrongful termination? Are you eligible for unemployment benefits? If you were fired for misconduct, you may not be eligible, but don't presume that is the case. Check with your state unemployment office, especially if you have a different opinion than your employer does about how you parted ways." 

Marty Nemko, a contributing columnist for, a career coach, and the author of Cool Careers for Dummies, offered these suggestions in his article "What to Do if You're Fired."

Start blogging your area of professional expertise. Nemko says",It's easy to do, and it's free. Just use Blogger. Every day, I would write a 100- to 300-word post that would impress my target employer. I don't need to be Shakespeare; I just need to write clearly.

Call or e-mail ten to fifty people in your network who are most likely to have a job lead for you. Nemko says",These could include former coworkers, fellow alumni, recruiters, relatives, etc. I'd give them the pitch, ask if they know anyone I should talk with, and ask if they're willing to keep their ears open for potential jobs.

Answer five to ten want ads for your target area. "I wouldn't waste my time answering ads for jobs that don't appear to be a perfect fit. Today, want ads often generate mountains of applications. To make clear that I'm a perfect match, I'd use a two-column cover letter. On the left side, I would list the job requirements and, on the right side, explain how I meet each one", Nemko advises.

Reduce your expenses. Nemko suggests:

  • Eating at home.
  • Using free entertainment.
  • Stopping unnecessary spending; e.g.",no new gadgets, no new clothes."

John P. Strelecky shared his insights on's Career Management blog

Sell yourself. Strelecky says",It's amazing how many people think filling out an application or sending in a resume and cover letter constitutes applying for a job. That's not enough anymore! Make the focus on how you can improve the company's bottom line. If you're applying for a $60,000-per-year job, you have to be bringing at least $60,001 in great ideas and results to the table, or there's no reason for anyone to hire you. Obviously, it should be a whole bunch more than just that one dollar. That value needs to be reflected in what you submit to a company when you apply for a job."

Consider a career change. "If you weren't satisfied with the type of work you were doing previously, taking a job in the same field isn't going to fulfill you now ‒ or in the future! Use this down time to expose yourself to different situations that will help you figure out your purpose for existing. Volunteer, backpack around the world, read books on topics that interest you. Do whatever you can do to experience new things so that when you choose your next job, you're fired up to be there every day", he says.

The NY Daily News report "What to Do When You've Been Fired" includes the following advice from employment expert Alison Doyle: 

Get your benefits in order. Doyle says",The most important thing you can do is talk to your human resources department or your manager. Ask about your assets. Is there severance pay? What happens to health insurance? Does the company carry your 401k for a certain period? Do you have vacation time or sick days that you can get paid for? Find out what happens to everything you have as an employee." 

Move on. While you're job hunting, Doyle suggests that you "keep your firing out of your cover letter and resume, and don't bring it up unless an interviewer specifically asks. Be honest, but don't share all the gory details. Keep it brief and keep it moving. Do tell the truth, because lying on a job application is grounds for future firing ‒ without unemployment benefits."


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