More than 55,000 people get fired every day in the U.S., seven days a week. That works out to more than 20 million people losing their jobs each year.
If you get fired, what you do next and how you behave is extremely important. Unfortunately, a very high percentage of those 20 million fired employees lose all semblance of professionalism and clarity on what to do next.
This is a mistake.
If you are one of the unfortunate many who get fired each day, here are 4 things you should do to quickly land on your feet and make some lemonade out of those lemons.
1. Collect the facts and negotiate
Ask why you are being fired. Even if you were employed at will, express your willingness to grow and learn and that knowing the reasons behind your termination will be helpful in this process. Inquire about severance pay, benefits, unemployment, and references. If you are offered severance, don't sign immediately--take some time to look at what is being offered and consult an attorney if you need to. And, ask if you might be able to resign from your position as apposed to having a termination hovering over your head--many companies are very willing to do this. At the very minimum, discuss what language will be used concerning your termination--will your termination be communicated to others as a mutual decision or a firing? Last, if you really liked your job and think you can do better, it never hurts to ask for a second chance.
2. Never burn bridges
Getting fired is a big deal and a huge blow to the ego--one that can cause even the most level-headed person to blow their top and act completely irrational. With that said, it is so important for you to remain professional toward everyone you come in contact with as you exit the organization and beyond--no matter how angry or alienated you feel. Your professionalism will be rewarded with a kind word, references, or even a letter of recommendation. As the old saying goes, "Never burn bridges." If you handle yourself in a very professional way, this will be remembered.
3. Take a deep breath and carry on
Although being fired may seem like the end of the world at the precise moment you realize what is happening, it's not. Think of it as a new beginning and a new direction--the closing of just one chapter out of many in your life. It is a chance to find a better job and a company that will value your contributions. If you are eligible for unemployment, file for it right away. If you are financially able to do so, take a week or two for yourself--being fired is traumatizing. Take a deep breath, know you're not alone--55,000 other people got fired the same day you did--roll up your sleeves, and prepare yourself for a new and exciting chapter in your career and life.
4. Prepare for the job search and your future
Remember: When one door closes, another door opens. In addition to the obvious polishing of your resume and cover letter, don't forget to update your LinkedIn account and make it professional--within the first 20 seconds of viewing your LinkedIn account, an opinion of you will be formed. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile account, sign up right away--these days, most companies and headhunters scan LinkedIn profiles to get a feel for a potential candidate and to find new employees. Take inventory of your personal skills and talents and include these in your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter. Reach out to your connections on LinkedIn or other social media. Get out there, interview, keep it professional--no previous company or boss bashing--and in no time you will find your next dream job.