How to restart your job search after you’ve been fired
Donald Trump has added new meaning to the words, “you’re fired” in the popular show “The Apprentice”. Apprentices sit on pins and needles dreading the moment those words are directed toward them. For almost a decade, hearing about downsizing and layoffs has become a normal part of today’s workplace, making an already strained experience an insecure one for many employees. Getting fired can be quite the traumatic experience and from the human resources perspective, should be treated with the same dignity, respect and fervor that companies take to woo employees.
To the one being fired, laid off, downsized, right-sized, it is a chilling time that causes one to experience a myriad of emotions, such as disbelief, denial, anger, embarrassment, shame, disappointment, grief, depression, loss, loss of self-confidence, fear and dread.
What advice could one take to rebound after being fired?
1. Take time to reflect and come to terms with the termination. Be honest with yourself regarding the circumstances surrounding management’s decision. It is easy to blame, point fingers and charge that it is someone else’s fault, but we can all learn from the experience, even if it was attributed to the depressed economy. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
2. Deal with your emotions. Do not hide your head in the sand and pretend that your feelings don’t exist. If you don’t deal with them now, they will come up later and could possibly hinder you from moving on successfully. You could run the risk of becoming a bitter, cynical or fearful person because you are led by the emotions of your past experiences. Learn the importance of forgiveness – of yourself, your boss, your co-workers, God and other people who you think are responsible for this happening to you and perhaps could have even prevented it in your opinion. Grieving this loss is important but rising from the ashes of the disappointment is just as important.
3. Update your resume. Unless you have a secret trust fund somewhere or generous benefactor, you will have to re-enter the job market sooner rather than later. It is important to update your resume to reflect the job change and what you are in the market for now. Don’t yield to the temptation to leave that work experience out of your resume for fear of shame. It is far better to be honest than to lie about it. Trust me, your prospective employers will find out whether by a thorough background check or word of mouth.
4. Prepare your response to the inevitable question. Yes, they are going to ask you why you left your last place of employment. The key here is honesty and discretion. Yes, indicate that you were terminated and maybe even why. Prospective employers appreciate a level of candor but what they are looking for is that you have grown from the experience and are not bitter. They do not expect you to get into a tirade about your former company supervisor, manager or co-workers as they will feel that you will only give a repeat performance on their job. You will look like the problem child. Even if there were interpersonal issues or ill feelings, do not let that show and hinder your opportunity to move on.
5. Reach out to your network. More than likely the word is already out anyway, but it is important to get back out into the market and let colleagues and friends know that you are looking again. Remember, many jobs are not advertised but are filled by referral. This will also help you to rebuild your confidence. As you brace yourself for a few rejections, step out there and face the world with a fresh outlook and vigor. If you don’t believe in you, who will?
6. Hold your head up. No one ever likes the stigma that being fired attaches to your psyche and reputation, but it’s a reality you can’t avoid. People will speculate and create their stories, even spread rumors, but you have to know yourself and know what you stand for. Believe in yourself and your professional ability, talent and the contribution you can make to an organization. Be proud to know that you are a survivor of this dark time in your life and have emerged stronger, wiser and better than before. You have lived to tell the tale and help another fallen comrade know that there is hope after job loss.
• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant and trainer, speaker, author, coach and mentor who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. Do you want to be coached through your next transition for yourself or your company? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.