For Part I on “What To Do If You’re Fired,” click here. Part 2 addresses what to do to find your next job. For readers who currently have a gig, but are looking for something “better,” this post is for you too.
Day 3 Post Firing – Your New Job
Even though you just lost your job, you still have a job (just one that doesn’t pay very well). That job is to find your next job. Don’t waste a minute of day three, get out of bed at your usual time, take a shower and do whatever you usually do if you had to go into work. Grab a journal or notebook and head out to the closest café (getting out of the house is key). Be sure to leave the laptop at home as you will want to cyberstalk all your still employed co-workers and this will make you feel worse.
At the café take a minute to look around and observe everyone. If you made it out the door before 9am, you’ll probably notice people who are hurrying to grab their coffee and make it into their office “on-time.” Quietly tell yourself, “suckers, they are beholden to the demands of a boss or supervisor. Not me, I’m free as can be.” Embrace the freedom and space that being unemployed provides. Use it to evaluate your career and where you want to go next, without the demands of a (many times) frivolous job.
After my first firing, I met the famous business guru, Tom Peters, at a book signing. While signing my book he asked who I was currently employed with. I answered, “uhhh, no one.” He then looked up and said, “GOOD, that means you’re not tied down to some shitty company.” His words had a profound impact on my life.
LOVED, HATED and WANTS List
To start on Day 3, I recommend whipping out your notebook and writing all the things you LOVED about the job you just left. Then write all the things you HATED about the job. Use this list to create a new list – one that includes all the things you WANT in your next job.
On the list of WANTS, identify the top 3. This list can be a compass as you launch your search for the next great thing. Furthermore, it may show you that your previous job wasn’t meeting many of these requirements and give you confidence that there is something better out there for you. With that said, I wouldn’t expect to find all of these wants in your next position – in my experience, there is no perfect job.
At this point, it’s probably a good time to reflect and ask yourself the question, “what went wrong?” There is certainly a chance you were the perfect employee and your company just hit tough financial times and had to downsize indiscriminately. However, there is also a good chance you are partially to blame for the firing as well.
In my estimation, I have had to “let go” approximately 15 people in my career. None of the terminations were fun, but as Manager/CEO, I deemed all of these removals as necessary. Maybe the employee wasn’t a good culture fit, maybe they weren’t delivering against their metrics/job description, or maybe the company was transitioning in a different direction and their position wasn’t required anymore. Whatever the reason, this was my reality and I was doing what I felt was right for the greater organization.
Take a hard look in the mirror and work to identify how you weren’t the ideal employee. If you don’t try to improve upon the efforts of your past, you may find yourself being relieved of your duties again in the future.
For me, firing number one taught me a valuable lesson – always read the company handbook! Firing number two showed me that I was at fault for not being the CEO my partners wanted me to be (it probably didn’t help my attitude towards them soured as well). I take personal responsibility for both terminations and feel I have learned and changed much as a result.
Mind, Body & Spirit
After developing these lists and taking some personal responsibility for your actions, give yourself a break. Get outside and smell the roses. Try to believe that life is more than your job (it is). On this third day after your firing and every day after, keep your spirits strong. For me, that includes daily exercise and meditation. You now have no restrictions – take a 2 hour long hike or hit a mid-day yoga class. Do what makes you feel good (exclusive of hard drinking and sugar in-take). There will be an urge to work on your resume or search LinkedIn constantly – that can wait. Make time (a lot of time) for yourself.
To keep your mental health strong, don’t forget about your “firing buddy” from day 1. This is the friend or family member who listened to you whine and moan endlessly immediately after you were let go. Talk to this person or others frequently – daily is best. Loneliness will creep into your psyche – talking to others and getting out of the house are the only cures I found that helped.
Day 4 Post Firing (repeat until a new position is obtained) – Networking
Your resume is the equivalent of a business card and it is a representation of who you are. However, opportunities aren’t gained by your resume, they are gained by who you know. After a quick search, I found that between 70% to 80% of all jobs are found by networking. That’s right – nearly 80% of people found their next job not through LinkedIn or Indeed, they found the job through people they knew.
I may be stating the obvious here, but when you’re not keeping your body and mind fit, where then should you be spending your time looking for your next gig? That’s right, keep the web browser closed and start scheduling those breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner dates with EVERYONE you know. To get employed, you need to become a professional networker!
I have had five “real” 9 to 5 jobs in my career (working at Best Buy, Minute Market Grocery Store and Bob’s Stores not included) and for every single one of those jobs, I got the role because I knew someone who worked for the business.
Because you informed all of your friends and family members on the second day after getting canned, you have already started the networking process. Revisit that email list and start arranging in-person meetings. I strongly recommend meeting in person as it solves two problems – it gets you out of the house (helping with the loneliness and depression) and you develop a stronger connection with the person. Ask them the obvious questions like, “are there any positions available at your employer?” and if there is something of interest, be damn sure to let them know you’d like to meet the hiring manager.
If your friend is coming up empty, don’t worry. Just like Kevin Bacon knows everyone on the planet, you can too. Tap into their network and figure out who they can introduce you to that may hold job opportunities in your field. Ask them to give you an email introduction. Oh, you’re afraid of asking friends to make introductions for you? GET OVER IT – this is your job now and if you want a position that includes all those wants, this is what is necessary. Hiding in your bedroom pressing refresh on your LinkedIn page ain’t gonna cut it.
When networking, don’t limit yourself to people you know. Be bold and identify companies who you would like to work for. Figure out ways to “randomly” bump into people who work for these organizations. Provide value for these people, like making a helpful sales connection or even doing free work. Be creative and aggressive. Recently, Derek Sivers wrote about an industrious person who created the following video and emailed it to Derek. As a result, Sivers liked it and hired the dude to create some more content for him. Networking isn’t rocket science, just get out there and start by saying “hi, my name is…”
That’s it. That’s how you get back in the employment ranks. It really is as simple as; saving a nest egg (before you are fired), taking care of your body & spirit, and networking your ass off. People don’t (usually) get the job of their dreams by answering a LinkedIn ad. They get it by making it their job to get that job. When I got one of my dream jobs at the London 2012 Olympics, my friends and co-workers couldn’t believe it. While I had to go through multiple interviews, it was the work I did to get the interviews that made the difference. If I remember correctly, I had a cup of coffee or a phone call with 4 people who were already employed by the Olympics. Therefore, when a role became available that I was well suited for, who do you think got the first call?
If you’re currently unemployed and reading this, I feel your pain and know there is real hurt and sadness. However, I also know there are a lot of employers out there looking for someone who; provides value, is willing to learn, and brings a good attitude to their workplace. Keep your mind right and coffee calendar packed and you’ll be well on your way to obtaining your next great gig.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.