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Friday, June 26, 2009

You're Fired, Now What?

It can happen to anybody, like me! Yes, you get the call from your director with the appropriate apologies and warm feelings. Now what? Perhaps you have kids, a mortgage, a pregnant wife, is this the end?

Take heart! Since you are a good manager, you have taken the time to build strong networking relationships in your company, right? You have also spent time getting the right training for this eventuality. You'll be fine, at least that's what everybody tells you. RingCentral Online - Free Trial plus 10% Off

Losing a job is one of the most difficult emotional, financial, and stress-inducing situations a person can face. Like somebody who has lost a loved one, a person who has lost a job often has diminished, higher order thinking skills. They also have diminished short term memory. The physical brain responds to emotional stress by focusing on life-preserving functions. It re-directs capacity from high-order thinking to low-order thinking. Sadly, many are unaware that it is happening. Now that you know what will happen, take action!

If you lose your job, for the first couple of days, make sure you write things down, more so than you normally would. Try to avoid making major decisions for up to 6 weeks, if possible. If not, make sure you consult a trusted friend who can give you an unbiased opinion. Land your next best job. Get started.

Additionally, use your social network. Notify your friends and colleagues on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that you are immediately on the market. Ask for advice, leads, and support. Consider all opportunities thoroughly and make sure you have folks you trust to give good advice. While Web 2.0 is awesome, don't count on your three, excellently written blogs to generate sufficient income ( and

Finally, when it comes time to leave your current job, do so with dignity. Be positive in your exit interview. Personally give your best wishes to those around you, even the person who fired you. It is a small world and gestures of courtesy and professionalism are well-remembered. Please remember also that your life is more valuable than any job or amount of money. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get help immediately! Contact, tell a friend, your religious leader, a police officer, anybody, just get help.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having just been through this, I can concur with the advice given.

Funny thing, though, is the counsel given by well-meaning friends. "All things happen for a reason, so something better must be just around the corner" and "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade" and other such meaningless drivel can be as difficult as the actual lay-off or firing.

First of all, don't delude yourself into thinking there's a reason for everything. Life is beautiful and chaotic and mostly random - that is how it should be. Assigning reasons to events is a fruitless exercise. The only reasons that exist are ones we make for ourselves.

Another difficult part of it is that the well-established network can suddenly collapse. Colleagues and friends suddenly won't return emails or phone calls. Being unemployed often means being unable to influence events, and if you can't do something for someone, they may be less inclined to stay in touch.

Yes, it sounds harsh, but it's undeniably true.

Lastly, trying not to take the firing/lay-off personally can be excruciatingly difficult. The old standby of, "if you work hard, come in early, stay late, do more than expected and you'll be fine" is not true. Fact is that people get let go for reasons that often have nothing whatsoever to do with themselves; a decision made in an office on the 40th floor by people you've never met and who have no idea who you are might be the reason for it. A blip in stock price? A new director who takes it upon him/herself to slash salary costs? Who knows?

For me personally, I'm still working through the grieving process, taking some time to re-evaluate my options. And I'm doing my utmost not to panic. OK so far - today is a good day. Tomorrow might be different.

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