I was humiliated. I had just been fired. I said goodbye to my boss and team.
Then, I had to do the walk of shame right past all the rest of my 150 or so coworkers as HR walked me out of the office. I honestly don't know if they were all whispering and gossiping as I walked by, but that's how I remember it.
Getting fired is embarrassing. Telling your friends and family really sucks. My 5-year-old daughter at the time overheard my wife and me talking about it. She noticed almost right away that I was not going to work anymore. Then, she asked me, "Daddy, did you get fired from your job?"
I tried to explain to her what happened and let her know that everything was going to be okay.
The cold, hard truth, though, is I wasn't okay. My self-confidence was at an all-time low. I felt like some commodity that had been used up and just thrown in the trash.
This was the second time I had been fired. The first time was a fluke, I thought. But now it happened again! There must be something wrong with me. The feeling of being unwanted by my employer did some very damaging things to my ego.
Luckily, I was able to pull myself together. By continuing to move forward, I've been able to once again thrive in my career. In fact, the past four and a half years since I got fired have been by far the most profitable and fulfilling of my career.
Here's what I've learned about how to thrive after getting fired.
1. Don't hold on to the pain (it's only temporary).
Getting fired is painful, and it's easy to become depressed. However, the pain and depression you feel after getting fired are only temporary. They only become permanent if you accept failure as your fate.
Remember that getting fired is pretty common. Reach out for support from your circle of friends, mentors, and family members for counsel. You will be surprised at how many people you know who have been fired at some point in their career. Hearing their stories can help you realize that you're not alone in going through this. The thing is that most of those who've been fired don't openly talk about it, so you might not realize who you know who has been fired.
2. Take some personal time.
Getting fired is a sudden and forced lifestyle change. Spending your days looking for a job is not most people's idea of fun. However, it's a task that requires you to be at your absolute best to get the job you want. So before going all-in on your job search, take some personal time to do some of the things you love outside of work. Doing so will help you approach your job search with a clearer head, and it is often that we find the direction we need to go in life doing the things we love.
3. Use LinkedIn to find new opportunities.
Build your network on LinkedIn before you need a job; don't wait until it's too late.
Networking on LinkedIn is something you should be doing on an ongoing basis, so when you are in need of a job, your network is already there. Use LinkedIn to connect with people inside your industry and at companies you may want to work at in the future.
It's never enough to just connect with them, though. If you want a warm intro into a company, you need to build a relationship with your LinkedIn network first. Start engaging with other people's content. If you want to get people's attention, start making relevant comments on their posts that demonstrate your knowledge and level of expertise.
Then create and share relevant content with your network. Doing so creates an inbound strategy that will have people finding you based on the content you share.
Last, reach out to the clients you served at your last position and ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn. This is a crucial step. When you have former clients from the position you got fired from singing your praises, it becomes much easier to convince potential employers to hire you. Client recommendations validate your work and show firsthand the type of value you will bring to the position.
4. Lean on your mentors.
After you get fired is the time that you need professional mentors the most in your career. Hopefully, when it happens, you will have already taken the time to nurture these relationships. It is important to find mentors who have been to the places you'd like to go in your career. Having the right mentors can take you from treading water in your career to steady professional growth.
5. Check unemployment benefits.
Using unemployment benefits can help you bridge the monetary gap, so you can pay some bills until your next paying gig comes along. To find out if you're eligible, go to your state's labor department website.
6. Think like a sales rep and make a funnel.
To find the right opportunity, identify the companies you'd like to work for the most. Then, begin to penetrate the accounts like a sales rep would. That involves networking at both in-person events and on social media with hiring managers and their team.
7. Get professional help with your resume.
At least half of you just went, "ugh, like I have the budget to hire a professional to write my resume." That's not my point; whether you have it in your budget to hire someone to help with your resume should not stop you from seeking the best possible resume. Never just update the resume that got you your last job. That was good enough then, but it probably won't be good enough to help you make the next move in your career.
You can find expert advice for help on your resume from reading blogs, watching videos, and reading books, or through your network. If you do hire a professional resume writer, always ask for references from people in the field you will be applying in.
8. Get a side gig.
They say that looking for a job is a full-time job, and I'm not here to dispute that. But what I will say is that you can only fill out so many online job applications a day before you lose it a little.
Getting a side gig does many things for you. First, it gives you a different approach to get your foot in the door at the places you'd like to work. If you can impress them as a consultant through project work, you will be at the very top of the list when they have a full-time position open up.
A side gig helps you acquire new skills that you weren't able to get from your previous positions or educational background. It also demonstrates to potential employers that you have entrepreneurial skills and that you are serious about your field. When they ask you what you've been up to in the interview, you will have a more interesting answer than simply updating your resume and applying for jobs.
For me, I wasn't able to get anyone to hire me to do exactly what I wanted, so my side gig eventually became my company.
I hope the steps I've shared today will help you not only recover from getting fired but will help you thrive.