Getting fired is not only emotionally draining; it can drastically change your family’s lifestyle and plans for the short-term. If you’ve been terminated for the first time, you’ll naturally have many questions that you won’t feel comfortable asking your manager or HR department.
Despite the feeling of helplessness that often accompanies getting fired, it’s no time to let yourself recover at home from the blow. Here are several tips on what to do when you get fired, so you have all your bases covered while looking for a new job.
8 steps to guide you on what to do when you get fired
1. Give yourself a brief 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 you personally. However, dwelling or even acting on all these negative emotions will only take away energy you can invest in finding new jobs. Don’t burn any bridges with any potential references, either.
Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter suggests avoiding panic, isolation, letting negative emotions consume you, rigid mindsets, “what ifs,” inactivity, and solitude to replace a self-defeating mindset with a positive one to move forward.
Allow yourself to take in the news for the day and then spring into action. Take this as a chance for some fantastic career growth at a new company.
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. The U.S. government has resources and programs in place to support individuals in the short-term after getting fired. Your rights may include continued health insurance coverage and sometimes unemployment payments. 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.
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.
If you believe you were unfairly terminated or discriminated against, you may be able to appeal or consider suing.
3. Apply for unemployment compensation
The biggest question about what to do if you get fired is whether you will qualify for unemployment compensation. Immediately 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. This process can take a few weeks to kick in, so the sooner you start it, the better.
4. Adjust your budget
Did you know that almost 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved as of 2019? Without income, most people land in hot water very quickly.
While it’s important to view unemployment as temporary for a healthy mindset, it’s equally as crucial to adjust your budget as if it’s long-term.
See which unnecessary costs you can cut, such as online streaming services or gym memberships. There may be many things you consider to be a normal part of your lifestyle, but if savings won’t get you through the next several months without income, rethink your budget. Are weekend movies really more important than your dinner in a few months? Plan your budget around a worst-case financial situation.
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 or coworker in a higher-up position. If you left on good terms, ask your former manager if they’d be willing to be a reference for you for future applications or if they can leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. If you haven’t already, leave recommendations for your coworkers and former managers on LinkedIn as well so that they will be more likely to return the favor.
Read about how to include employment gaps on your resume.
6. Start looking for a new job
With applicant tracking systems, third-party search firms, online placement boards, and more, the job search can get complicated. It’s best you start brushing up on job hunting tips and looking to see the best ways recruiters hire in your selected field.
However, in a struggling job economy, the usual job hunting route may not be enough. Make yourself stand out to companies by striking up personal connections through your network, growing your professional presence on LinkedIn, and even creating a personal website that showcases your past work and experience in a more spotlighted way. There may be thousands of other candidates in your exact shoes, so think about how you can go above and beyond.
Explore virtual job fairs with companies hiring in Arizona
Keep in mind that even though it’s tempting to give yourself some time to recharge between jobs, the whole process can take weeks. Unless you have savings to last you months, waiting weeks might not be a luxury you have.
Do you have to mention you’ve been fired in your applications?
Never lie on job applications. Dishonesty can actually be grounds for termination in the future if you are found out. You don’t have to say you were terminated in your resume and cover letters. However, if you are explicitly asked in an application question or interview, be honest.
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 so you can continue job hunting.
A side gig or temporary job can provide the peace of mind of an income, while also allowing you to continue to build up skills. You can use freelance sites like UpWork.com or Fiverr.com to make a little side cash on your schedule or look for a part-time job near you.
Freelancing has only become more popular through the rise of remote work and the COVID economy. Over a third of Americans are thought to perform some sort of freelance work as of 2020.
8. Rethink 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.
What to do when fired? Explore opportunities at companies around Arizona hiring now.
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