Move on from getting fired
Image: George Rudy/Shutterstock

You’re fired! How to move on in 5 easy steps

27 Jun 2017

Have you ever been fired? It can be traumatic, but it’s not the end of the world. Here’s how to pick yourself up.

Getting fired can feel like the world has just come crashing down around you. Depending on your circumstances, it can mean anything from having to cancel your holidays to worrying about making next month’s rent.

And that’s just the financial side of things. Getting fired can seriously knock your confidence, particularly if it comes as a surprise.

From redundancies and downsizing to failing to reach targets, getting fired is never a pleasant experience, even if your company tells you it’s not personal. And sometimes it is about you, and that can feel worse still.

Suddenly, a million negative thoughts are running through your head: how will I explain getting fired in my next job interview? What if they want this employer as a reference? How long will it take me to find a new job? What if I don’t find a new job?

These negative thoughts are detrimental to your health, so, the first thing you need to do is try your best to stop thinking that the worst has happened.

People get fired all the time, they get new jobs, they move on and they never look back. Even if you think your story is disastrous, there is always someone who has had a worse time of it and has come out the other side. Catastrophising your situation won’t do you any favours.

Remember: losing your job is something you can survive and move on from.

As just one of many examples, fashion industry queen Anna Wintour was fired from Harper’s Bazaar before she became editor-in-chief of Vogue. She maintains that everyone needs to be fired at least once in their life because it’s such a valuable learning experience.

With that in mind, below are five ways to help you get over being fired and see it as an opportunity, as opposed to a sign that the end is nigh.

Learn your lessons

For some, learning lessons might mean looking back at the reasons they were fired. Did your manager blame your performance? Did you do something wrong? Could you have been a better employee?

This is not the time for self-blame, nor is it the time to deflect all fault if you were fired for a specific reason. Your lesson might be as specific as not using the company computer for personal reasons, or it might be as broad as being more careful about what you say in front of colleagues.

In the case of sudden downsizing, your lesson might simply be to have a back-up plan in place for such a situation the next time. No matter the reason, there are always lessons to be learned.

Go easy on yourself

It’s easy to fall into a trap of blaming yourself and deciding you were terrible at your job and are now completely unemployable.

That’s simply not the case. Whether you were completely blindsided or you saw it coming, give yourself a day or two to wallow a little. It may not be the end of the world but getting fired can be a nasty experience, so it’s OK to lick your wounds.

Once you’ve decided what you could have done better, that’s enough self-bashing. Remember that being fired happens to almost everyone at least once, so you’re not the worst employee in the world and you’ll be OK.

With job searches often come job rejections, so you need to stay positive in case they arrive.

Reflect on your time there

It’s important to look back on your job as a whole, not just at the whys and hows of getting fired.

What skills and experience did you gain from that job? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? Were you even happy there anymore?

Often, employees get stuck in a rut and become passive about their professional life. If you’ve been forced out, it’s important to reflect on whether you even should have still been there, particularly if your performance had gone downhill for no other reason than you being unhappy at work.

Reflecting on the aspects of the job itself will stop you from making the wrong decision about where to go next, which brings you onto your next step.

Decide what’s next

We know it doesn’t feel like it, but you have been handed a rare opportunity to think about what you really want to do next.

Do you want to stay in the same industry or do something new? Are you able to take this opportunity to upskill in a completely different sector? Yes, financial restraints will play a role, but if you hadn’t thought much about what job you’d like to do next, now is the time to do it.

You might even decide to take a temporary or part-time job to support yourself for a while until you figure out your next big career move. Alternatively, you might finally go travelling, like you had always planned to.

Use your time wisely

Again, while financial worries may play a part in how much time you have here, there will be a gap between getting fired and getting full-time employment again.

We urge you to use this time wisely. The luxury of free time rarely comes along, so you should grab it with both hands and use it to maximise your potential.

Do spend a specific, consistent amount of time every day on your job search if you want one as soon as possible, but use the rest of the time to do other things. Look after yourself, meet people for coffee, upskill, volunteer, take time to work on your hobbies.

The main thing is to keep busy without burning yourself out or stressing about finding a job every minute of every day. Something will come along and suddenly, that free time you spent fretting will be gone.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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