Getting fired is a total bummer—there’s no doubt about it. You lose your job, your paycheck, and a bit of pride. Even if you had a subpar boss at a subpar company, getting fired is a hard situation to be in.
One of the most difficult realities in the working world is that getting fired is commonplace. You can do everything right and still end up on the cutting block. So, you need to find out what to do when you get fired. Read the tips below to figure out the best plan forward and learn your options.
Here’s what to do when you get fired
Step #1: Give yourself a mourning period, then move on. 🏃
Just like with any kind of bad news that you receive, you’re going to be upset and emotionally drained. It could’ve been the worst job in the world, but getting fired is still something that hits your personally. Frustration is completely normal, but there’s no use lashing out against your old company or boss. Don’t burn any bridges with any potential references either.
Allow yourself to be sad for a few days and then move on to the next step of your life. You need to prove to future employers that no matter what happened in the past, you are a strong candidate. Look on the bright side: you can take this as a chance for some fantastic career growth at a new company.
Step #2: Get your severance and benefits sorted out 💸
When learning about what to do when you get fired, this is one of the most crucial things to do. Even before getting fired from your current position, you should know and understand the severance packages at your company. Knowledge is power, and if possible, negotiate the amount you believe you deserve if the time comes.
Remember to find out about your benefits as well. Talk to your former employer about extending your benefits under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). COBRA is a government policy that requires continued coverage when health coverage would be lost.
In regards to your 401k or other retirement plans, you have a few options available. You can leave it alone, roll it into a new plan with a new employer (if allowed), roll it into an IRA, or cash out. Think about which option would be best for you. It may be tempting to cash out, but you’d have to pay taxes on it, and you’d lose that money for retirement. If circumstances are dire enough, then of course cash it out, but evaluate your situation carefully first.
One thing to note: don’t resign. Some places will ask you to resign, and if you do so, you may be ineligible for collecting unemployment.
Step#3: Apply for unemployment benefits ✔️
One thing you should be aware of is that you are effectively unemployed and have lost your main stream of income. In essence, you’re going to need a little help if in it for the long-haul. Check with your state’s unemployment office to see if you qualify for benefits. Even if you were fired for misconduct, you might still be eligible for benefits. Having that extra bit of help can mean the difference between paying rent and not in the next months.
Step #4: Update your budget📝
You don’t know when you’ll get a new job, so revisit your budget and see what’s absolutely necessary and what can be cut. Just because you have some money saved doesn’t mean that you can sustain your current lifestyle.
Make sure to cut the nonessentials. However, that doesn’t mean having to live in the Dark Ages either. You may not need that monthly subscription streaming service, but having the internet on hand is necessary. Creating a spreadsheet of all your current expenses can help in that regard as well. See how much you’re paying for everything, including car payments and rent, and look to see what can and needs to be cut down.
Step #5: Get references and update your resume 🗣️
You want to strike while the iron is still hot, so to speak. Take this time to polish out your resume from the details of your latest job, in addition to the skills you developed from it. If it’s been a while since your last update, then it may be time to do a complete overhaul of your resume.
Likewise, take a look at your references, and update that as well. Don’t be afraid to ask your previous boss. If you left on good standing (and you’ve moved on from the initial heartbreak of being fired) ask them if they’d be willing to be a reference for you. Your old boss will definitely be more impressive as a reference than your high school English tutor.
Step #6: Start looking for a new job 💻
Back in the day, looking for a new job was as easy as opening the newspaper and circling the ads. You can still do that today, but the job scene has changed heavily. With applicant tracking systems, search firms, online placement boards, and more, the job search can be a lot more complicated. It’s best you start brushing up on job hunting tips and looking to see the best ways to people hire in your selected field.
Step #7: Apply for a side gig 👩🏫
Looking for a new job is a full-time job all on its own, but you can’t live off unemployment benefits forever. Apply to a job that allows some flexibility with your time.
You need to ensure that you have money coming in with a job that will enable you to control your own time, or at the very least has very flexible hours. You can use freelance sites like UpWork.com or Fiverr.com to make a little side cash on your schedule.
Step #8: Consider your options 🤷
You’ve been fired. Now what? If you’ve followed everything here, you may have an idea, but is jumping into the same position at a different company your best option? Do you want to go back to school and get a degree? Did you absolutely hate working inside all day? Take this time to reevaluate what you want to do. Rediscover old and new passions. Look into the best companies to work for and see if there’s a new path that’s right for you.
Getting fired from a job that you invested your time in can be heartbreaking. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be the end all, be all of your life. Learning what to do when you get fired, though, can help you during this trying time. Take your time to compose yourself and start focusing on the next step in your life.
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