What to Do (and Not to Do) If You Are Fired or Fired

Whether the “restructuring” results in layoffs or your own work making you money, it can be devastating to hear that your time at the company has come to an end. However, it is important to think about how you will react to such news before it ever happens, because your reaction in this moment is key, as is how you act in the hours and days that follow. Here’s what to do if you ever get fired from your job.

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Don’t hide from your employer

This news may come as a huge shock, but it’s best not to get annoyed. You might think that it doesn’t matter and you should burn all your bridges on the spot since you have nothing to lose, but you still have something to lose.

“Now take a deep breath and try not to react,” said human resources expert Tim Sackett of HRUTech . “Most likely, you will need something from the people who just fired you. It could be a referral, help with benefits, etc. Don’t burn that bridge, no matter how much you want to.”

Sackett explained that behind the scenes, employers and hiring managers often communicate, so any rash move on your part can negatively affect your reputation. Don’t let the end of one job cause you not to get another, no matter how angry you are.

Ask questions and get written answers if you can

You might think the best option is to drop your tail and run, but you should see this conversation through to the end, even if you’re feeling demoralized, panicked, or embarrassed. Ask questions starting with why this is happening. Ask your Human Resources representative to put the answers in writing as well, and if you get those written answers that don’t match what you were told in real life, challenge them immediately, also in writing. Better yet, if you get fired in person, ask if you can record the conversation for yourself.

Formulate your questions gently but directly. For example: “I am very disappointed to hear this. Can you tell me exactly why I’m being fired?” While the answer may be difficult to hear, it is important that you understand why it happened so that you can avoid such a company in the future or work on problems in your job that led to the layoff.

You should also know the next steps. Ask if there is a severance pay, what will happen to your benefits, and when you should leave. Ideally, by the time the meeting ends, there should be no confusion on either side.

Give yourself time to think and then get to work

Your HR department can provide you with information about applying for unemployment benefits , but if they don’t, you’ll need to research it yourself. Depending on why you were fired, you may or may not qualify, but it is important to investigate this.

If you believe for any reason that you have been fired for an unlawful reason, such as discrimination, contact an employment lawyer. Even in so-called “at will” employment states, illegal layoffs can occur. In New York, for example, you cannot be fired for discrimination or revenge reasons; the employer must have a “good reason” for your dismissal.

Beyond these two steps, you need to start thinking about your next career move. Unemployment benefits can’t keep you going forever, and neither can legally substantial payments – as long as you’re at least eligible. In addition, both of these options require some time.

“Create the most believable job loss story possible and energize your network,” Sackett said. The reality is that people get fired from their jobs every single day. Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s the company’s fault, sometimes it’s the boss’s fault or the economy’s fault, but the reality is that everyone will have the first impression that it’s your fault until you tell them to believe otherwise.”

Although he argued that “the truth is always better,” Sackett did acknowledge that “there are many versions of the ‘truth'” so choose the mildest version and stick with it: “You want to own the parts that you are responsible for. for, but also to give some responsibility, in a positive way, to other things within the whole situation. The most important thing is to keep it simple and understandable.”

For more information on how and when to hide the truth, here’s a guide on whether (and how much) you should lie in your next job interview .


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