By Lee Vikre | @LeeVikre
How quickly it can turn. You were thrilled about your job. Your boss thought you had great promise. You enjoyed some early successes, and maybe even won an award or two. But then, things went south. You made a few mistakes, stepped on too many toes, shot yourself in the foot. Or maybe it had nothing to do with you; your company merged, downsized or sold out. Either way, you were escorted from the building carrying a banker’s box. You got fired, like Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s controversial former campaign manager.
Ugh! What an awful feeling. No way around it, being fired is way up there on the stress scale. Whether you get the security-guard escort or slink out the back door when the rest of the staff is in a meeting, just the act of leaving the premises is jarring – and that’s only the beginning of a whole grieving process.
While we hope your dream job doesn’t turn into a horror-story nightmare, if you are fired, here are five tips for getting yourself back on track.
- Vent only to the right people. Vent to a close friend, family member, or better yet, a counselor or coach. Do not vent with professional colleagues and especially not to recruiters, no matter how sympathetic they may seem. You might feel your termination is unfair. Maybe you are convinced it wasn’t your fault; you had a bad boss, backbiting co-workers, or a toxic culture. You might well be right. But it won’t matter in your search for your next position, because you will need to be relentlessly focused on a positive future in order to get your next dream job. Vent to someone trusted, and then focus on losing any bitterness as you move on. Lewandowski may have wanted to blast some of his former co-workers publicly, but he didn’t, at least not as of this writing.
- Maintain your resilience. This is not the time to beat yourself up. People are fired all the time for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you got in over your head, experienced a few political missteps, or clashed with the boss. Maybe your company changed direction. It happens. Often, being fired leads to a better fit elsewhere down the road, and hiring managers do understand this. Fight the tendency to become discouraged, disillusioned, or depressed. If you are resilient, you will recover.
- Focus on what you did well. As you prepare for your next steps, spend some time thinking about what you accomplished at your job. Lewandowski was controversial; he was arrested at a rally, had problems with co-worker relationships, and made mistakes that likely led to his dismissal. But he also spearheaded an upstart campaign that won a major primary election. Lewandowski is keeping that accomplishment front of mind, stating, “what we’ve been able to achieve in this election cycle has been historic”. Nobody’s going to deny that.
- Prepare for THAT interview question. You know the question is coming up in your next job interview; “Why did you leave?” The more prepared you are, the less awkward the conversation will be. Prepare your brief, factual story, focusing on the future, with absolutely no bitterness or badmouthing of anyone or anything at all. Lewandowski may have been criticized for his “Everything is Awesome” interview, but the criticism is coming from the media, who would have loved to hear some stinging, juicy complaints. Ultimately, though, that interview is likely to work in his favor as he moves on.
- Was it mutual agreement? Lewandowski was clearly blindsided by his termination, but sometimes we can see the axe coming. Even the best of us find ourselves in situations where we know our job is not the best fit – even though we didn’t actually say “I quit” before we were let go. When you interview for your next job, If you can honestly say the decision for you to leave your last position was mutual, say so. If you can’t, you can emphasize what lessons you learned.
Onward and upward. Just watch. Corey Lewandowski will get another position because of his particular strengths, and in spite of his publicly aired weaknesses. You will, too. Start your next search here. And if you’re feeling like you need some career coaching before heading into your next interview, we’re here to help!
About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.