Getting Fired: Meaning, Tips, & Moving Ahead

Getting Fired: Meaning, Tips, & Moving Ahead

Maybe you have just been fired. Maybe you are worried about getting fired.

It happens to the best of us.

This article will give you a full guide for what comes after getting fired.

We will give guidance not just about how to handle yourself in the immediate aftermath, but also how to best prepare yourself for future employment.

Getting fired is just a bump in the road, not the end of the road.

It is a difficult time, but you can make it into an opportunity.

After reading this article, you will be well informed about what to do if you ever find yourself in this situation.

(You can find more information about common reasons people get fired.)

There was a time when giving your former employer a piece of your mind may have been encouraged.

Don’t do that.

It may seem unfair at the time, and it is in our nature to defend ourselves. However, it will not help you in the long-run to burn bridges.

You do not want it to appear that you are unpredictable, hard to work with, or a loose cannon.

Take it on the chin.

The fallout caused by cutting ties negatively will almost always last longer than the emotion of getting fired.

Taking it on the chin does not mean that you just go home without saying a word.

There are some things that you can do that won’t reflect badly on your character. This image highlights those things.

What to do immediately after being fired

Read on for more detailed advice:

  1. Clarify and understand why you are getting fired. Show that you want to do better next time.
  2. Find out whether the decision to fire you can be discussed or even appealed.
  3. Find out about severance pay. This is often provided for outgoing employees, as long as misconduct or breach of contract are not causes of your termination. This is usually correlative with the amount of time spent at the job in question. 
  4. Find out when your final paycheck will be paid.
  5. Ask about your entitlement to unemployment. Depending on the reason for your termination, your employer may state that they will not contest your claim. For more specific details, contact your state’s unemployment office.
  6. Ask about getting/giving references. If the date of your termination is not immediate, you can get references from colleagues or senior staff. Always be sure to offer to return the favor.

It can be a very heavy time, emotionally. If needed, you may be able to set up an appointment for later that day, so you can gather your thoughts and ask the right questions. 

Even if being fired is not the best feeling, there are good and bad ways to handle the revelation.

Bad ways may be tempting, but they are also detrimental.

Above are examples of what you want to do as early as possible after getting fired.

As much as you want to, talking negatively about your former employer, job, colleagues or clients on your social media accounts will not help you.

So what will?

Use this as a checklist for what to do after you have been terminated.

What to do after being fired

Here are additional details for what the days after being fired should look like.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

This is quite a stressful and difficult process to go through. It can come as a complete shock, maybe one that you do not feel entirely ready for. 

It is a lot easier said than done, but trying to keep a lid on emotions and not feel overwhelmed will help you a lot. Keep a level head to keep moving forward.

Do Not Let This Define You

A lot of people allow a time like this to define their aptitude. This does not define you as a person or as a professional. The capability of a friend or family member would not be turned on its head because of one dismissal - so why are you any different?

Prepare Financially

Your income has changed, you likely want to plan ahead to have better control over the situation.

Have a plan in place for at least three months. These gaps in employment happen to the best of us. However, some prepare better than others.

Do Your Research About Unemployment and Wrongful Termination

More detail will be covered in this article shortly, but these are matters that you want to be knowledgeable about.

Find Out About Health Insurance

Find out when your health insurance will end and make sure your premiums are deducted from your final check appropriately.

COBRA is a way in which you can continue the employer-sponsored health insurance for a time. The key difference is that you will pick up the tab instead of your employer paying any of the premium.

Exercise

From going to the gym to walking trails, exercise is a fantastic way of looking after both your physical and mental health. That is always important, but it is easy to fall out of the routine when going through a time like this.

Work on Your Resume

The job may have ended unfavorably. However, you can still include the skills attained and achievements accomplished in the job.

Hitting all of your sales targets for years does not get counteracted by an inconvenient ending, for example. 

Get Back Out There

It may be easy to lose hope, but maybe there is an even better opportunity waiting for you.

Obviously, it isn’t an ideal situation at all, but you can try to make the best of it.

It is not easy to prepare yourself to move on, but you have to. The sooner you come to that decision, the better.

All the details about what you have to do after you are fired can be overwhelming at first. Slow down. These tips are to help organize your responsibilities, not to make you feel more stressed.

(Refer to our article about getting laid off to learn more about the aftermath of unexpectedly leaving a job.)

It is rather obvious, but you do not want to make a bad situation worse.

That means that you should do everything you can to not make things harder for yourself both professionally and personally.

Here is a summary of things to avoid after you have been fired:

What not to do after being fired

We will explain each of these "don'ts" below:

Do Not Allow Emotions to Control Your Immediate Reaction

This is a difficult time, and only natural to get emotional. However, you may say or do something that you go on to regret if you do not take time to cool off.

Do Not Blame Colleagues and Supervisors for Your Shortcomings 

It is unprofessional to blame those who are not at fault. It also burns bridges, which you want to avoid.

Do Not Talk Negatively About the Job or Employer 

As highlighted earlier, speaking your mind may have temporary emotional benefits, but it will have long term professional downsides.

Do Not Refuse to Assist in the Transition

If the date of your termination is not effective immediately, you can attempt to steady the ship and prepare your employer to move forward without you. This will reflect much better on you as an individual, and you increase your chances of getting good references.

Do Not Lie About the Experience  

You may feel like you are saving face, but you can easily get caught in a lie.

Covering your backside by lying is potentially very damaging professionally if you are found out.

Remember that your history can and will be checked when pursuing future employment.

Do Not Neglect Loved Ones

This is not an ordeal that you need to go through alone.

You have family and friends.

This is a stressful and difficult time for many people. Remaining connected to those who really matter and who really care is important.

They can encourage you emotionally and motivationally.

Do Not Throw a Pity Party for Yourself

It is a difficult time, yes.  But pity is not going to help your situation at all.

Self-improvement, on the other hand, will.

It is not natural to see a situation like this as an opportunity, but that is exactly what you can make it.

Do Not Give Up

As stated previously, this is just a setback. Do not lose confidence in yourself.

Remember, all the skills, achievements, and qualifications that landed you your last job are still there. Combine it with what you have learned, and you will be more ready for the next job.

The short answer is sometimes.

If you were fired for serious misconduct, lying about hours, violating rules or similar, you very likely will not qualify.

If you were fired over performance; however, it is a lot more up in the air.

Talking to HR before leaving will often give you some information about your eligibility. However, the best place for information is your state’s unemployment office.

Getting fired for not hitting some targets gives you a significantly better chance than being fired for stealing company property.

The one thing that is clear is that eligibility is tied very much to the reason for the dismissal.

As the name suggests, not all firings are completely above board.

If your firing is not legitimate, then there is a serious case for pursuing wrongful termination.

Some examples of wrongful termination are as follows:

  • Discrimination. If your firing was as a result of your ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender or similar, then being fired is not legitimate.
  • Asked to commit an illegal act. If your firing is a result of you refusing to do an action that itself was not legal, then the firing is not lawful.
  • Whistleblowing. Being fired for reporting illegal behavior, for example, is not legal. Most states have made it unlawful to fire someone on these grounds.
  • Constructive Dismissal. This is when an employee resigns as a result of the work environment being hostile. Consequently, it can’t really be seen as a voluntary resignation. Cases like these are difficult to prove. Make sure you are very familiar with your contract.

Many employers have a policy where a contract may be terminated by the employer/employee without consequence.

Even if you are aware that your dismissal was not legitimate, without clear evidence, it may not be worth the time.

A failed case can damage your reputation and your bank account, and it will take time too.

However, if there is a clear breach of contract, then reinstatement or compensation will be required from the employer. Seek professional guidance if you have a concern about your termination. 

As stated before, you do not need to broadcast that you were fired to everyone.

However, the dreaded application question, “Have you ever been terminated from a job?” will likely come up.

Be honest, but put a positive spin on it.

Choose your words carefully.

Say that the job ended, or similar. Anything that does not have negative connotations.

Do not over-explain the situation.  Use safe and honest words, and be succinct.

State that you have learned from the experience.

To have a positive reference or two from that job will help you tremendously.

The application process is to land you an interview. You can better deal with this matter in person.

As far as your resume goes, information about being fired is not included in it. Cover just your start and end dates, responsibilities, and achievements.

You will probably be asked about the nature of your termination in an interview.

Again, you have no obligation to phrase it in a negative way.

Do not lie though.

Instead of saying you got fired, you can say that you parted mutually, or the job/contract ended. You can even say that there was a mutual recognition that the job was not a great fit for you.

Keep it short, sweet and easy to digest.

If asked outright if you were fired, don’t lie.

Getting fired is not a deal-breaker.

Say that you have learned from it and briefly address what you have learned.

If you can say why you were fired and the changes that you’ve made so you don't repeat your mistakes, you can turn it into a positive.

For example, if you were fired for poor performance, and had insomnia at the time, go into it a little.

Show that you have learned that health comes first and you ought to have taken the time you needed. Hopefully, you’ll be better now, which you can mention.

Positive affirmations and omitting to disparage your past job or boss will only reflect well on you in this unideal situation.

Coming into the interview negatively and talking down about your previous employment will show that you have learned nothing, and would do the same in this job.

Be prepared, think of what you have learned, show in the interview that you are a better professional because you were held accountable.

The aim is to show that you are positive, and have learned from your experience to date.


Top Tip: The interview is not there to make life hard for you. You are a serious candidate! Be sure to do everything you can to convince them that you are a great fit.


(Be sure to ace the rest of your interview questions with this guide: 50 Top Job Interview Questions and Answers.)

Getting fired usually comes with a lot of questions. Here, we will answer some common questions about being fired. 

What Is The Difference Between Getting “Let Go” and “Getting Fired”?

Getting fired means that an individual’s job was terminated, due to the individual. 

Being laid off means that the individual’s position became unsustainable, not through the action of the individual. 

Being let go can mean either of the two.

Should I Resign If Asked To?

The decision is yours. Resigning and being fired each have their own set of pros and cons.

Perhaps the company is helping you save face, but maybe they are hoping to avoid the fallout from firing somebody.

Severance pay and unemployment can easily be influenced if you resign instead of being fired.

You may not want to answer questions about being fired during upcoming interviews. 

Consequently, your choice to resign will probably be contingent on a few things and which are most important to you as the time.

What Does “Dismissed for Cause” Mean?

“Dismissed for cause” or “Termination for cause” is when an employee is dismissed for a specific reason or multiple specific reasons.

These reasons will be on the letter of termination.

This usually happens as a result of serious misconduct like stealing company property, harassment, violence, breach of contract, or a similar offense.

What Does “Dismissed with Prejudice” Mean?

This is another way of saying “dismissed permanently”. Dismissed with prejudice means that you are not rehireable.

If an employee is dismissed without prejudice, then they may take the job up again down the line.

Will Getting Fired Go on My Employment Record?

Your former employer is allowed to (and some are likely to) give the brutal truth. That is another reason why you do not want to burn bridges. Increase your chances of having a decent record. Leaving in a negative manner will only increase the probability of it reflecting badly on you.

Conclusion

We have explored how to react and move on after being fired.

If you follow the advice of this article, you will be well-prepared for the immediate and long-term aftermath.

Always remember to continue to have confidence in yourself.

After getting fired, you will definitely need to update your resume.

If you choose to do that yourself, be sure to check out our article, How to Make a Resume That Gets Past the Robots.

If you'd like a professional to handle it for you, Find My Profession is a resume writing service that provides high-quality, ATS-compatible resumes to help you land your next job.

We wish you all the very best!

  • 5 Signs You Work For a Toxic Boss

    5 Signs You Work for a Toxic Boss

    Kelli Lafont by Kelli Lafont
    Read On
  • Resume Writers Near Me: 55+ Major Cities (US + CA)

    Resume Writers Near Me: 55+ Major Cities (US + CA)

    Find My Profession by Find My Profession
    Read On
  • Can I Use a Bot to Fill Out Job Applications for Me?

    Can I Use a Bot to Fill Out Job Applications for Me?

    Steven Lowell by Steven Lowell
    Read On
See All Articles