What do you do now? Your boss just said: “You’re fired. We are letting you go. Your employment is terminated. We have decided to eliminate your position. We are going in a different direction. It’s not you, it’s me.”
Oh wait…that last one might be from a breakup.
I’ve been let go from jobs before, and I’ve consoled family members, friends and complete strangers after the loss of their jobs. It’s not unlike a breakup; it’s ugly and there’s feelings everywhere and sometimes you even have to facilitate the return of belongings.
Usually getting fired is completely demoralizing, debilitating and depressing, so if you are here because you have recently been fired, let me say this first: I am so sorry.
Whether it’s your fault or you had a garbage boss or you didn’t show up for 4 shifts in a row, it sucks to get fired.
You definitely go through the 5 stages of grieving when you lose a job:
- denial (there’s no way I could have just been fired. I’ll just keep working. If I show up for work tomorrow, they can’t send me home. Did she really just tell me I am fired??)
- anger (lots of curse words. Yelling, and probably crying while you’re yelling. Calling people terrible names just because they have not lost their jobs and you have. Probably more cussing.)
- bargaining (God, if I could just have my job back…. If I could just have one more chance….)
- depression (Lots of junk food. Probably bad daytime television, or Netflix binges of 90210 or Riverdale. Not showering or brushing your hair or leaving the house. Sad faces.)
- acceptance (Well, that’s that! Let’s go find another job!)
I don’t care what anyone says: It sucks to lose your job.
You panic. You don’t know what to do! High school does not prepare us to be fired. Our lives do not set us up to be prepared for failing in this spectacular manner. Parents do not inherently teach their children how to behave or how to move forward when they lose jobs.
Do not fear! I’ve been through this and walked enough people through this; I can help!
- Write down everything that was said during your termination. Grab a piece of paper and brain dump. Write down who was there, what time/date it was and the verbiage they used. Write down what they promised and anything else you can remember. “CYA” is essential in situations like this: Cover Your A$$.
- Get a lawyer to review any paperwork they are asking you to sign and don’t sign it until that lawyer says to. Online companies like LegalZoom offer inexpensive document review. It shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to get this done, and you need to do it to protect yourself. Now that you’re “outside the company”, they are interested in covering their butts and don’t really care about yours. This step is ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT if you were “fired for cause” (meaning you did something illegal or heinous to get fired).
- File unemployment. Most states offer online applications for unemployment, but some allow for application through the mail. Google “unemployment in [your state]“. Arm yourself with information. Here’s a great post about how to file for unemployment and what you will need.
- Get yourself a budget. Take a look at your severance package and see how many months of your household budget can be covered by that money. Pare down to the essentials. Do you need Netflix AND Hulu? Can you move to a cheaper internet package? Call your utilities and see how you can lower your bills. “Budget” is not a bad word. My friend Amiyrah has a lot of really great frugal tips on her blog.
- Do one thing that is purely self care. You have gone through a HUGE loss. Something that was an enormous part of your life is now gone. It sucks, and if it hasn’t hit you already, it’s going to soon. Get a pedicure. Get a massage. Buy yourself a really good book you’ve been wanting to read. Don’t go bananas, but do something nice for yourself.
When push comes to shove, losing your job can be devastating…or it can be the first step in a new direction for you.
Prepare yourself for success, even when you’re feeling at your worst!