Recently, I had two friends who were “let go” from their jobs. Knowing something about getting fired, I thought it would be helpful to share my experience on what to do if you ever find yourself, “looking for your next opportunity.”
If you are fortunate enough to be currently working “for the man”, don’t forget that your employer still doesn’t give a f*ck about you and you might need the words shared in this post sooner than you think. With or without a job, we are all “preppers” either trying to live during a nuclear holocaust or preparing for one. Joking (I hope) aside, getting; “let go,” “terminated,” “made redundant” or “downsized” doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s only bad, if you make it bad.
In my opinion, the single most important thing everyone who considers themselves “a part” of the workforce should do is build a nest egg. Sadly, 25% of all Americans do not have an emergency fund. Finding a new job takes approximately 6 weeks according to this survey. Therefore, to be on the safe side, your piggy bank should have enough money to cover at least 3 – 6 months of living expenses should you ungraciously get the boot. The first time I was fired, as a 22-year-old administrative assistant, I was living at home in my parent’s basement, so my nest egg was free rent and meals from Mom and Dad. By the time my second firing rolled around, I was now a parent myself and thankfully had enough savings to support my family. Without this financial comfort, I can’t begin to imagine the stress of having to feed my 5 and 2-year-old on limited funds.
If you don’t have at least 3 months saved up, open up an Ally Bank account now and put as much coin as you can in there. Your future fired self will thank you.
You Just Got Fired
Oh snap, the Two Bobs from Office Space just walked into your office and said they were replacing you with a Robot called “Johnny Five!” No matter how badly you want to tell everyone to F*CK OFF – DON’T DO IT!!! Instead, keep your composure, don’t sign anything (yet), gather up your things and do your best to delete anything illegal you were holding on your laptop. In 2002, I had to discretely and furiously delete several hundred mp3 files that I had downloaded illegally at the office. After cleaning out your workspace, politely ask to speak to the Head of HR. If your company has offered you a severance package, NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER ONE. Here’s how you do it. If you weren’t given a severance, thank your lucky stars that you read this post before getting fired and now have a nest egg to fall back on.
For executives or those with equity in the company, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Whatever you were given to sign (there’s always something to sign), grab it and send it over to your attorney for review. Contrary to what my mother in law thinks, I’ve never been arrested, but I equate this step to asking for your attorney after being read your Miranda Rights.
You Just Walked Out of the Office Unemployed, Now What?
After my first firing, my buddy Ethan and I (who also got fired for selling NCAA Final Four tickets) headed over to a basketball court and contemplated our unemployed futures. For my second firing, I headed home with my wife (who was also fired) and sat outside on our porch contemplating our unemployed futures. If you’re not lucky to have gotten the pink slip with a friend or your partner, find someone, anyone, to talk to. Talk, bitch, gossip, cuss out your old bosses, do whatever it takes to “get the bad” out. This is a key first step to being able to move on.
In my opinion, getting fired is nearly identical to getting dumped. No matter how badly you hated your old employer, it hurts. You will feel un-loved and un-wanted. While these thoughts aren’t true, it helps to have someone you know by your side during the aftermath. For the rest of the day, tap into your emotions as best you can. It sounds weird, but this can be an amazing time. Amazing, because your emotions are raw, real and honest. I was surprised at the sense of relief I experienced during my second firing. Relief that I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t anymore. Relief that I didn’t have to suck up to my business partners and relief that I no longer had the responsibility of 250 employees on my shoulders. These emotions you experience are incredibly valuable intel for the future and will help guide you to the next “great” opportunity.
Chill Out – Day 1 Post Firing
After yesterday’s “feeling all the feels” experience, you will think that today is the day to jump on LinkedIn and start hunting for a new job. Don’t do it. Would you go on a date the day after getting dumped by your long-term partner? You would? Oh, I guess you get over heartache a lot quicker than I do!? For those of us who aren’t ruthless job hunters, my recommendation is to get outside and enjoy your newfound freedom. Go for a walk, ride your bike, hit the trails – this is your opportunity to do whatever you want when everyone else is commuting to work and sitting behind a desk for 8 hours. Because you have a nest egg, there’s no immediate rush to end your unemployment. Enjoy it!
During my first unemployment, I rode my bike a lot and ended up training for and completing a 150-mile race. My second unemployment stint allowed the time to visit New Zealand and Australia for 30 days (a nearly impossible vacation while your employed). Think of these activities as therapy (for me, that was true in more ways than one). Doing something you love and/or taking advantage of the time to meet with friends or travel will help you recover from the pain. Similar to any other recovery, I wouldn’t anticipate the process to take a day or two, prepare for a couple of weeks or months to fully heal.
Tell the World – Day 2 Post Firing
Two days after being relieved of your employment (I’m started to run out of firing analogies), it’s time for the public relations campaign to begin. By this point, your ex-boss would have sent out an email and told your old co-workers, “Shane’s employment was terminated because he was watching too much golf at the office” or something like that. In addition to setting the record straight with your old colleagues, you want to inform EVERYONE you know, that you are now a free agent, ready and willing to sign a ginormous contract with the best company out there who needs someone that is great at watching The Masters, I mean, watching the financial numbers.
Write emails to ex-coworkers, friends and family informing them of what occurred. Resist the urge to hole up inside your house and not tell anyone about your firing. While you may feel embarrassed to tell people, the best thing you can do for your situation is to TELL EVERYONE you are no longer employed. How are people going to know you need a job, if you don’t tell them? More on networking in part 2, but those who know you can be your best recruiters.
To summarize Part 1 of What To Do If You’re Fired, here’s what to do immediately after “getting the axe”:
- Pre-Firing – build an emergency fund of 3 – 6 months worth of living expenses and put the money in an account like Ally Bank that has a high savings rate
- You Just Got Fired – don’t say anything, don’t sign anything & negotiate a severance package
- Walking Out of Your Office Unemployed – monitor your emotions and find a friend to cry and/or complain to
- Day 1 Post Firing – chill out and enjoy the freedom
- Day 2 Post Firing – tell the world you are no longer employed
Click here to read Part II of What To Do If You’re Fired, where we identify how to find the next job.