How to deal with being fired

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • According to a career consultant

    Getting the sack is not ideal but sometimes, it happens. We already know the 10 ways to deal with being made redundant – and how to ask for voluntary redundancy but how do you handle getting fired with class? How do you move on from it? Career consultant Sherridan Hughes reveals all…

    ‘Hopefully the getting fired will not come as too much of a surprise. Assuming you have not committed gross misconduct and been fired on the spot, you should have been warned that this was coming; you should have had a number of formal written warnings and perhaps been under performance management. The exception might be that you have failed your probationary period but ideally the employer would already have notified you that you were at risk,’ she explains.

    As with all failures this should be viewed as a valuable learning experience and perhaps a time for re-evaluation. Here’s what you should ask yourself…

    Was it really your fault?

    ‘Sometimes commercial or political scenarios lead to  an unjustified sacking (to avoid paying compensation or redundancy). Read between the lines; was there something else going on e.g. cutbacks were necessary, or perhaps you were simply made the scapegoat for someone else’s failings?’

    If in all honesty, you feel that you were not up to the job, you need to ask yourself why?

    ‘What were you weak at? What did you do less well?

    Could you have asked for help sooner?

    Could you have asked for training, researched online or put yourself through a course? Is that worth doing now?

    What were you good at? Remember not to be too hard on yourself, you must have done some things right. How could you have made successes work more to your own advantage? Did you self-publicise sufficiently?

    Were you in the right role? Maybe you had managerial responsibilities when you are really more of a technical expert? Maybe the role had the wrong emphasis or was not what it was sold to you as?

    Were you in the right organisation? Would you have performed better in a large structured, as opposed to small, fast-paced firm? Are you better suited to the public or not-for-profit sector than a profit-driven and cutthroat corporate one? Did you have a bullying and critical boss for whom no-one would be good enough?

    Were you even in the right job? Did you enjoy the work and feel that it was playing to your strengths or did you feel out of your depth and stressed, or alternatively, bored and demotivated?’

    Think positive!

    ‘If this position was wrong, it is clearly best for all that you are out. You have had a lucky escape and now have a chance to find something better suited to your skills. You may like to see a career consultant to help you rethink.

    ‘Do not be ashamed or embarrassed. It’s best to make light of it and try to laugh it off with friends and family. No one is allowed to give a bad reference; they should just write ‘ this person was employed as X from X to Y dates’

    ‘Let go of resentment and bitterness because it will eat you up and you do not want them to have beaten you. Determine to show them what they have lost!’

    Be prepared to spin it

    ‘You cannot admit that you were fired because few employers will want to risk giving you a try, even if appreciating your honesty . Try to think of a reason why you have left (perhaps with no job to go to). If you change location, role, organisation or career, this should be easier to explain. Leaving may also be easier to justify should the position have been different from what was advertised to you and not what you expected. You could also complete a project or take a gap activity to cover your tracks. The company may even be prepared to bill it as a short term contract or temporary role should you not have passed the probationary period.

    Reading now

    Popular Life stories