“LETTING go”, “retrenching” or “downsizing”. These are terms variously used for essentially saying the same thing. Being fired is hell and no soft-sounding description makes it less painful.
First, you feel you have failed. You ask yourself, what have I done wrong? Did I offend my boss? Have I messed up a project recently? Most of the time, there are no conclusive answers to these questions. Economies go up and down just as your organisation has its ups and downs.
Second, you worry about your finances and leaving the safe “corporate womb”. You need a job to provide for yourself and those who depend on you.
And third, you may experience embarrassment or a loss of face as we call it in Singapore. You may feel awkward at first, but hold your head high and move on. You are joining a very big club, believe me.
So, what are your next steps? Having being fired twice in my life, let me share my experience of how I dealt with it:
Adopt the right attitude
Whether getting fired was your fault or not is totally irrelevant, so forget about this issue completely. You are a unique, first-class individual who is going to find a job. Correction, you already have a job. Your current job is to find a job. Do it well and with confidence.
During this period, your nerves are likely to go up and down. After a good interview, when a job offer seems imminent, you will feel great. The next day, if the recruiter doesn’t call back, you feel lousy, doubting you can handle even the most menial of work. Try to keep a balance. Euphoria can be dangerous and depression is even worse. Triumph and disaster are both imposters. Never forget that.
When you are unemployed, it is easy to let your schedule slide. Keep to a strict daily routine and seek jobs in a systematic manner. For example, you can start the morning reading and replying to the classified ads in the newspapers, meeting up with friends, contacts and recruitment agencies in the relevant industry.
Do some of this over a modest lunch or coffee and spend the afternoons visiting online job portals or social media platforms. Once in a while, treat yourself to a little bonus, such as a night out. You deserve it.
Update your resumé
There are plenty of resources on how to write a good resumé, including books in the library and online websites. Go through a few of them and spend some time updating your resumé.
Set out your qualifications, achievements, strengths and ambitions clearly and simply. Don’t think that a longer resumé will impress the recruiter. Most of the time, the person reading it will have made up his mind after reading the first dozen lines. So keep it short and avoid repetition. Circulate your resumé among trusted friends within the industry and get some critical feedback.
Be prepared for the interview
As always, there are books and online resources on how to ace an interview, so read a few. One general tip is to be straightforward. It is you they are thinking of hiring, not some robot off the shelf marked “Perfect”.
Remember to smile, as people warm up to smiles. Ask questions all the time — not just about the job but also about the company, its culture, mission and future steps. Asking many questions about the company shows you have a genuine interest and have done your homework.
Make sure you understand which direction the company is going in, so you can think about how to contribute. Be lively, alert and enthusiastic, as most employers want enthusiasm. Practise at home in front of the mirror — and your critical family members.
Remember that the person interviewing is a human being, with hopes and fears, just like you. He may have even been fired previously at some time during his career.
Potential employers are likely to ask why you were fired from your previous job. Tell the truth (after all, companies can do a background check), but keep your answer very short and simple.
Most of the time, getting fired is likely to have been a complicated, multi-faceted issue, involving different parties. Do not go into all of that. Answering this question in one sentence should suffice. For example, “I was unhappy with the potential my past job offered me” or “I had a disagreement with my boss over an issue about which I felt strongly”.
Never go into details and never badmouth your former company or boss. If the interviewer asks for details, simply explain that you never criticise your bosses past or present to anyone but themselves.
The best way to deal with getting fired is to bounce back and find a fantastic new job. And if you think that being fired is a difficult experience, consider it from the employer’s point of view — having to do the firing. This is an equally daunting and gruelling task, which I shall be describing further in my next article.
Article by John Bittleston, chairman, chief executive officer and founder mentor of Terrific Mentors International, a group of skilled mentors with significant management experience, who share a passion for reviving balance sheets by restoring human spirits. For more information, visit www.TerrificMentors.com