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Women in Focus

How To Make A Comeback After Being Fired

Carla Cain Walther
by Carla Cain Walther Published on 3 April 2014

Getting fired from a job can bring up a whole host of feelings, namely shame and doubt about your overall worth. Fear over the future eventually sets in too. “How am I going to pay rent?” and “What will my parents say?” are questions that will continue to plague you until you find something new. But don't fret too much. You WILL make a comeback into the working world, and here's how!

Although it certainly feels like it, getting sacked is not the end of the world. Many people consider it a blessing in disguise, albeit an emotionally painful one. If you were fired due to lack of motivation, it’s clear that that job wasn’t a good fit for you and now you’ve been given the opportunity to work somewhere that you enjoy. If you were fired due to budget cuts, you can console yourself by knowing that it wasn’t your fault and the company probably tried to do everything it could to keep you.

In case you're worried, it is possible to bounce back from being fired even in this daunting economy. You’ll certainly wade through a tough period of spending bans and hours writing tailored cover letters, but you’ll come out on the other side stronger and a better employee for the lucky company who snagged you!

Don't try to play the tough girl - cry it out

The two or three days after being fired are going to be the shittiest. Shock will give away to overwhelming sadness and embarrassment. Don’t try to resist these feelings or else they’ll just get bigger and harder to overcome.

LET THEM OUT. Cry, eat pizza three times a day, vent to your friends about how awful your old bosses were - think of these days as a purge. Once you acknowledge and work through those negative feelings brewing inside, the faster you can start your comeback!

Keep the details private

This scenario will inevitably happen: You go to a party. Your sorta friend asks how work is going and tears start to prickle your eyes because you have to tell her what happened. Well, actually you don’t. The whole world doesn’t need to know that you were fired.

Rehashing the story over and over is only going to make those angry and sad feelings resurface. After you’ve told your family and closest friends exactly what went down, there’s no need to announce it to everyone who asks if you don't want to. Instead, just say, “Unfortunately, that job wasn’t the right fit for me so I’ve moved on.”

Yeah, sure, you were forced to move on but a little white lie never hurt anyone.

Stick to a budget

Hands down, the most stressful thing about being fired is the lack of income, but it’s also the perfect time to put your money skills to the test! Say (a temporary) goodbye to bar hopping, eating out, and retail therapy, woman.

The good news is that you'll re-discover beloved items in your wardrobe and you'll become a better home cook.

Take a week off

Remember what it was like to look out your office window and wish you were outside with everyone else enjoying the day? Now you can!

Full time jobs often take us away from things we love, so paint, read, write, and go to museums. Take full advantage of the time off for a few days. Afterwards you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle those cover letters.

Reflect on what happened

If getting fired was your fault you should take some time to reflect on what you did and how you can be a better employee in the future.

Be honest with yourself. Were you constantly late, did you frequently make grammatical mistakes on important documents, or spend too much time on Google Hangout talking with your sister?

Before getting into the job searching zone, make a bullet list of the things you hope to improve on as an employee and then re-read that list the night before you start your next job.

Did you keep a seriously cluttered desk at your old job or always arrive to meetings 5 minutes late every time?

They say it takes seven days to create a habit, so start creating GOOD work habits while you’re looking for work. Organise your desk, always be on time for lunch dates you set with your friends, and get in the routine of proofreading your cover letters several times before emailing them.

It's not pajama day every day

After giving yourself a week off, go back to the same schedule you were on when you were working 9 to 5. Sleeping in until 11AM every day and then spending the rest of it inside a Netflix binge is going to destroy any motivation to find a job as quickly as possible.

Network first

When you’re ready to start looking for another gig, try your friends before you start browsing Monster and Indeed. Don't worry about being an annoyance. Companies typically love referrals and sometimes offer monetary incentive to employees who bring in recruits.

Send an email of interest to your friends and family members who have jobs that fit your skills. Even if nothing’s open right now, they’ll likely keep you in mind for future opportunities.

It’s always good to contact your references and let them know that they might be receiving a call from HR reps in the future. Send them an updated copy of your resume, a brief description of what you’re up to, and hey continue networking and ask if they know of any job openings that would align with your skills!

Churn out those cover letters

Ok, it’s time to start sending out those cover letters and resumes. Finding a job is your part-time job now so get up, eat, shower, and put on your day clothes before sitting down at your desk. Focus on sending out cover letters to two jobs a day.

Also make sure you apply for jobs that interest you first that way you're more invested in crafting the best CV cover letter possible.

Make sure you're on the same page as your former employer

Keeping the job you were terminated from on your resume is up to you. If you do decide to leave it on, just have a prepared answer for when the interviewer asks why you were laid off. Sometimes its budget cuts. Other times it's because of a mistake you made. Either way they will verify the reason with your past employer so don’t get caught in a lie.

That means, unfortunately, you’ll have to put your pride aside and call Human Resources from your old job to find out what exactly what information they’ll share with your potential employers. It sucks, but it's part of being a big girl in the real world!

If the job search is taking longer than expected or if you’re getting a bit stir crazy from staying inside a lot, try taking on some volunteering activities or freelance work. It’s a great way to give your day some structure and continue building upon your skill set.

Stay positive

Looking for a job these days is not going to be easy but something WILL come along! While you're waiting, keep mentally healthy by setting daily goals that don't revolve around your job search.

Try a week of green smoothies, take that 12 'o' clock yoga class, or re-read some of your favourite books. If you obsess over how long it's taking to find a new job you'll spiral into a bout of negative thinking that could result in less motivation to write cover letters or wasting time applying for positions that you know you won't take.

Throw a party after you find your dream job!

When you accept your next job offer, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Send thank you cards to your references and then stretch open that wallet again. It's time to celebrate! Go to your favourite bar and invite everyone who supported you throughout your unemployment.

And, of course, get as drunk as a skunk because you deserve it, girl!

How did you bounce back from being fired? Tweet us @sofeminineUK

by Carla Cain Walther

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