One of the worst days in anyone’s work life is the day they get fired or laid-off. They have no idea that tomorrow can be a worse day.
Why? Because the day-after is the day you have to pick up the pieces, quit grieving over a job loss and start thinking about the future. Your credit and family obligations demand you get right back into the game as soon as you can.
You’ll not only have to decide where you want to go, but how you are going to get there. Almost no one has a seamless transition after losing their job and that’s important to remember.
Here are five things you should be prepared to do if you do lose your job:
Go directly home and tell your spouse or immediate family that you were let go. Revealing this may seem to be hardest thing of all to swallow, but the fact is it is far more liberating to share this information than to try to bottle it up inside. People – particularly those closest to you – will understand and the sooner you feel their support, the easier it will be to move on.
Be candid with friends about your work situation. Don’t bad-mouth your former employer or your company, but be realistic that it happens every day and on this particular day it happened to you. People want to help people who are positive. Angry or frustrated people look for sympathizers. Instead, if you rationally explain what happened and can see a future, others will be more willing to help you. Remember, you never know which friend or acquaintance will have the lead that eventually lands you a job.
Be honest with everyone. This means prospective employers, too. A former felon told me she didn’t want to admit her crime on a job application. I told her that anyone who hired her would likely find out so it should come from her. If she didn’t confess and was discovered, she’d certainly be fired. But that employer that gave her a second chance would probably be a very good employer to work for.
Turn this into a learning experience. Like a divorce, when someone is fired there usually is enough blame to split between the two parties. Accept this. Be realistic about your attitude and work habits. Think about how you could have built a stronger, better relationship with your supervisor. This can only help in your next job.
Know what it takes to be a better worker. If you can explain what happened in your firing, and how you would have handled it differently, you’re on your way to landing your next job. Employers don’t want to dwell on the past, they want to know that the people they hire know how to do the work and get along with others. Demonstrate what you’ve learned during the interview process and you can climb to the top of the hiring ladder.