How To Survive Getting Fired

Lost your marketing job? Chances are you didn't tell your friends and family that you were fired. Instead, you likely used a euphemism that helps soften the blow. For instance, it may sound a lot better when you say you retired early, separated from your company, was eased out, out-placed or the most popular reason these days: laid off.

Whatever the reason, getting fired can be one of life's most stressful experiences. The higher you are in the corporate structure, the greater the harrowing impact.

The first reactions to being fired are usually anger and pain, followed by feelings of confusion and disillusionment. Unless these feelings are aired out with a spouse, friend or counselor, your self-esteem becomes shaky. You can be overwhelmed by a crippling sensation of powerlessness, depression and fear.

While no one likes to be moved out of the mainstream into the backwater of surplus people, some navigate unemployment with relative ease. They stay out of a self-defeating rut by immediately seeking the help of friends or a therapist to convert feelings of frustration, anger and loss into positive energy and action.



They attend professional meetings, take skill-building courses, attend career workshops, study and respond to recruitment ads, review websites in the field, maintain a wide network of contacts and use a variety of other resources to focus their job searches. These people maintain a confident and in-charge attitude, enabling them to land new jobs faster than many of their colleagues.

A Well-Disguised Blessing

While getting laid off isn't a boon for a career, it can be a positive experience. If you use the break for self-improvement instead of self-pity, you can emerge a winner. Yet few people view termination as an opportunity to lay a foundation for future career satisfaction.

When you're unemployed, you have a chance to explore new careers and fields, find a better-fitting job or, perhaps, even start your own business. An enforced sabbatical provides an excellent opportunity for self-rediscovery. Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What do you really want to do?

Many marketing pros fell into their jobs or seized available openings rather than plan their careers. Little wonder their work isn't properly matched to their interests, skills and personalities. Others find themselves in energy-draining jobs that leave them demoralized and exhausted. Still others work in jobs where they're unappreciated, undervalued and swamped with unchallenging and burdensome duties.

A career examination period gives you the chance to correct a bad job choice. It can free you from a situation in which you felt used or used up. It can help you break out of a holding pattern that offers no further growth prospects.

The first few days after a termination are crucial and should be devoted to carefully examining your situation. Many people feel panicky and call or email their business contacts and search firms immediately. Feeling angry and confused, they come across poorly and often scare people off.

To avoid such self-defeating behavior, accept and examine your emotions. Share them with someone who is understanding, friendly and supportive. Don't bottle up resentment or self-pity; such feelings inevitably get transmitted in any future job-interview situation, whether the interview occurs two months or six months after termination. No prospective employer is impressed with someone who has a chip on his shoulder or wallows in self-pity.

When you've been fired, try to negotiate enough severance pay to cover the time it usually takes someone of your level and skill to find a new job. Some companies provide one week's to one month's pay for each year of employment. Many companies have been known to extend severance payments a month or two beyond the formal limit, if you take your severance in regular paychecks rather than in a lump sum.

You also should arrange for continuation of your health and life insurance coverage until you can find a new job. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), employers are required to make health coverage available for a time for terminated employees. Find out if you can convert your policy to an individual policy with no lapse in coverage.

Make sure you extract a promise of decent references and job-search help from an outplacement firm. Outplacement assistance used to be provided only for top executives, but now is offered to many middle managers and technical professionals as well.

Finally, make a thorough analysis of your finances and liquid assets. Add up your basic cost-of-living outlays and fixed expenses: mortgage, rent, utilities, etc. Next, add up your available assets and sources of income: severance pay, unemployment compensation (don't be too proud to collect it), interest and dividends on investments and your spouse's income.

Then revise your budget according to a realistic assessment of how much time it might take you to find another job. Don't make any major purchases or take expensive vacations, and avoid borrowing unnecessarily or extending your credit lines. Simply adopt a more modest lifestyle -- without overdoing it.

1 comment about "How To Survive Getting Fired ".
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  1. Colleen Fahey from VerveLife, March 12, 2010 at 11:49 a.m.

    Good pragmatic advice. Both solvency and sanity need protection. For a creative personal account of a year's "underemployment" Check out Casey Brazeal's also be sure to see "Lemonade" the short movie about laid-off ad people who renew their lives. It's on Hulu.

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