We’d like to think that bad things only happen to bad people but that’s simply not the case. Getting fired is likely not going to make for a stellar day, but it happens. Companies change direction, new managers are hired, skill set requirements change, mistakes are made – the reasons are infinite. Since the probability is fairly high that you will be fired at some point in your career, it’s important to know that 1. This isn’t the end of the world, and 2. How you address it in future interviews is very important.
You’ll cycle through all 10 stages of anger. It’s critical that you let yourself experience all 10 of these BEFORE you take action toward your job search. Recognize that you will be angry, feel deceived and experience bitterness toward the situation. If you don’t get rid of this toxicity before you interview it will ooze into your interaction. Many times I hear bitterness when I’m talking with a candidate – even when they have carefully rehearsed a positively spun answer to “Why did you leave your last position?”
- Take out the trash. Give yourself time to work through the anger stages and rediscover your inner peace. If you go into an interview before you’ve forgiven yourself – and others – you won’t be your best. Interviewers can pick up on subliminal messages sometimes without even recognizing that it’s happening. I often hear, “I just have a gut feeling that something isn’t right.” So, you may think you can mask your distress, but chances are you can’t.
- Document the good reasons for your new unanticipated career direction. There is a reason for every decision – sometimes it’s ours and sometimes others make a decision for us. What is important is your ability to draw strength from this situation. What can you do now that you don’t have to look for a job secretly? What new skills do you now have time to gain? Get that Coursera on your schedule to keep your mind fresh! Spend some good time with family. Recharge your spirit and get back into your fitness routine.
- Get your references in order. Contact those colleagues and managers who will offer a personal reference for you. It’s probable that they can’t act on behalf of your former company – but as personal connections they can speak to your skills and character. Make these calls now and line up your references. Don’t let bitterness spoil these relationships – you need them.
- Record your takeaways. Take time to write down your lessons learned. Think through how you might have handled yourself differently in order to change the outcome. This might not be possible – but you’ve at least learned something. Even if what you learned is more about your personal work style and values. These are important lessons.
- Be honest. I have much more respect for candidates who are honest with me about their reason for departure than those who try and come up with some other excuse. However, you should put a positive spin on it. “I was let go from my previous position. The company recently reorganized at the level above me and my new manager needed a different set of skills for her department going forward. I enjoyed my time there and I have 3 references who can speak to my skills and abilities.”
Getting fired is a horrible experience – even if you don’t like your job. It’s rejection – and humans don’t deal with it well. You’ll come out stronger on the other end – I believe in you. For more ideas on strategic career management, visit us here!