How to recover from being terminated from a job
I’ve been fired from two jobs over my 46-year career in journalism (and other side jobs). It isn’t fun, but neither is it the end of the world.
The first firing didn’t matter. I had three jobs at the time, four if you count being in high school. I was a sportswriter for my local paper, I had shifts at Kentucky Fried Chicken and I worked in the garden section of a local superstore, mostly during weekend days.
I wasn’t surprised when the manager of the garden section told me I could go home and not come back. In fact, it was kind of a relief. It was the least favorite of my three jobs and I still had income from two other jobs.
The second time I got canned was when I moved from working at the Biloxi Sun-Herald in Mississippi to the Odessa American in Texas. I knew almost immediately I would have conflicts with the executive editor. After three months he simply told me things weren’t working out.
It stung. I had been a professional journalist at the time for more than a decade and had been a rock star at other newspapers. In fact, I had not applied for a job in more than 10 years – I was always recruited to the next paper, as was the case with the Odessa American.
After a few days of panic I consulted the Texas equivalent to Michigan Works! and was told there was an opening at the local NBC affiliate. I have a face for radio, but I managed to get hired as an on-air reporter, and for the next four years I covered news for the TV station.
The important thing is I didn’t dwell on getting fired. I moved on right away to a better and more enjoyable job.
That’s key in most advice given to workers who are fired. Psychology Today listed several things to avoid if you have lost your job through termination.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Just because you aren’t working doesn’t mean you cannot socialize. Sure, make finding a new job a priority, but not at the sacrifice of connections with friends and colleagues. Not only can they be supportive, they also can possibly come up with fresh ideas and future job opportunities through their network of friends and colleagues.
- Don’t dwell on the negative. Sure, you are going to have several negative emotions once you’re handed a pink slip, but focusing on the negative will eat at you, possibly preventing you putting positive energy into finding a new job.
- Live in the present. You can ask yourself “what if” day in and day out, but it won’t change your situation. Look at losing the job as an opportunity to move into a new job or change professions.
- Keep active. Going to the gym or participating in sports will be a distraction from the negative feelings. It can also help make you more energetic, which can come in handy when searching for a new job.
You’ll need to keep that energy and positivity in mind when you start interviewing for new employment.
You shouldn’t mention getting fired while applying for a job unless the application specifically asked if you have been fired or asked to resign from a job. The discussion about your termination is likely going to come up when you land a job interview.
Career Sidekick has a list of what to do and what not to do during a job interview when you are asked why you left your last job.
What you should do:
- Take responsibility for what happened. The interview you are in was based on your skills, and you still have those skills despite the firing.
- Show that you’ve learned from the termination and used it to grow.
- If the firing was because of an error on your part, demonstrate that you’ve taken steps to make sure it never happens again.
What you shouldn’t do:
- Turn the explanation about the firing into a drawn-out story. Be brief and move on.
- Badmouth the company you were fired from or try to assign blame to someone else.
- Hesitate when answering questions. That will sound like you’re hiding something.
- Tell lies. The interviewing company will vet you and check your references. Don’t lose the job before it can be offered by telling falsehoods.