Top 10 Things Not to Say or Do If You're Fired

fired from a job
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Getting fired can be very traumatic. Being let go from a job can generate a number of negative emotions including shock, anger, sadness, worry, and fear about the future.  Actions that you might take during the stress of being fired can be rash and have negative consequences if you aren't very careful about what you say and do.

That’s especially true if getting fired wasn’t your fault. Even if you were let go because you weren’t the perfect employee, it still hurts.

 You may not even be given a reason as to why you were fired and you may not be given any notice.

Even though it’s painful to get fired, there are some things that you shouldn’t do, or you could make the situation worse.  The following suggestions will help you to make the best of a bad situation by avoiding some common mistakes.

10 Things Not to Say or Do If You're Fired

1. Don't storm off the premises without taking the time to save any documents on your work computer. You should periodically save documents of personal or professional interest from your work computer because you never know when you might unexpectedly lose your job.  Some employers will escort terminated staff from the work site at the point of firing, and you need to make sure you don’t leave any important information behind. Review these tips for what to ask your employer when you have been fired.

2. Don't begin to discuss severance issues prior to taking some time to process your firing.  Time really does heal and you'll be calmer if you can wait, so ask if you could meet in a day or two to have that conversation.

  Research company policies and practices so that you are prepared to negotiate a reasonable severance package.  

3. Don't refuse to help with the transition if some time will elapse prior to your termination date. By facilitating a smooth transition, you will be remembered as a better employee and may benefit by receiving positive recommendations and referrals.

 Being nice, even when you’re in a bad situation will help you in the long run.

4. Some employers will give you the option of resigning instead of being terminated.  There are advantages and disadvantages to a resignation in lieu of a being fired.  Review the difference between getting fired and laid off before you agree. Check with your local State Unemployment Office to explore the impact on unemployment benefits prior to finalizing a decision.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation as part of your separation agreement, or at least clarify how your employer will field inquiries about your tenure.  If you have supportive colleagues, ask if they might furnish a positive recommendation while you are still in close contact. Here’s information on when an employer can say you were fired.

6. Don't impulsively disparage your supervisor, or blame co-workers or subordinates for your performance problems. This is a hard one if you think they helped cost you your job, but future employers will conduct thorough background checks and seek input from former colleagues at all levels.

Any enemies that you have made with your departing comments will be more likely to share damaging information. Parting impressions can be lasting and might influence staff to view you as a negative person.  

7. Don't miss the opportunity to ask for the basis of your employer's decision.   If due process according to company policy has not been followed, you may be able to petition Human Resources to buy some additional time to improve.  You may also have some protection through a personal contract, union agreement or anti-discrimination law.  Consult a labor lawyer prior to finalizing your separation if you think you might have a case.

8. Don't finalize your separation without exploring other jobs with your current employer if you have enjoyed working there.  Options might exist for other positions if you are viewed as an employee with a positive attitude and strong work ethic.  Your employer might consider you for other jobs that are a better fit for your skills if they learn you are open to other roles.  Here’s how to apply for a job with your company, but do check to see if it’s a possibility before you start the process.

9. Don't broadcast your firing to networking contacts and friends immediately. Before you tell the world you’ve lost your job, take the time to think through your message and how you would like to be perceived.  Frame your story around a theme like the job not being the right fit without being overly critical of your employer.  Save your venting of emotions for a limited group of trusted friends or family members.

10. Most importantly, don't lose faith in yourself.  A firing can be demoralizing but remember it is only one employer's decision, and there will be other, more suitable options for you. Take the time to regroup, and find a job that is a better fit for you and your interests.  It may be that this wasn’t the right job for you and a push to find a new one is just what you needed to move along your career.  

Related Articles: Top 10 Reasons for Getting Fired | Employee Rights When Your Job is Terminated | Types of Separation from Employment

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