The shock of being fired — and the subsequent realization that you are now unemployed — might mark the lowest point of your career. But, as the saying goes, "Everything happens for a reason." Use your forced exit as a sign that something better is waiting. With relentless optimism and unwavering faith, let getting fired fire you up and propel you toward your dream job.
Contact your old employer and ask how the company plans to discuss your firing with third parties. Ask your boss to tell potential employers checking your references that the decision to part was mutual, or at least neutral. If that doesn't work, ask your ex-employer to refrain from giving any information regarding the terms of your dismissal. Request that the company provide the dates of your employment only.
Update your resume and cover letter. Include any special skills, certifications or leadership experience you've acquired since your last draft. During your unemployment, participate in additional enrichment activities to include on your resume, such as online training, mentoring or volunteer activities. Get a colleague to look over your resume and give you some pointers.
Reevaluate your career direction. Perhaps the reason you got fired is because you were no longer motivated to excel. Ask yourself the hard questions: Am I doing what I love? Am I pursuing my dreams? Am I capable of more than I've demonstrated thus far? If you realize your previous job had you sidetracked, use getting fired as the motivation to get back on target.
Prepare a fresh list of references. More than ever, you need people who can vouch for your skill, talents, professionalism and reliability. Contact former bosses, colleagues and academic contacts you know will give you glowing recommendations. Tell them as soon as possible that you’re adding them to your references, and be prepared to refresh their memory with a written list of the specific events, skills and experiences that make you fabulous.
Give it your all. Hunting for a new job can be a job of its own, but you've got to put in the time. Look for work during business hours so you stay in the groove of grinding during the day. Consider taking your computer to the library or coffee shop, so you don't get accustomed to the couch. Network with other professionals in your field to keep abreast of opportunities offered through word of mouth.
Tell the truth about being fired, if you are asked directly. Look for something in the situation to feel grateful for, so you can spin what happened in a positive light. Ask yourself what you've learned, and how the experience has made you better. Maybe you've learned how to control your emotions, or how to better meet external deadlines. Whatever the lesson, find a way to show that getting fired has motivated you to be better for your potential new employer.
Speak highly of your old employer, even if you genuinely feel slighted. If you can't bring yourself to speak highly, at least remain neutral. Badmouthing or complaining about your old employer will make you look immature, defensive and unappealing, especially since your former employer won’t be around to tell the other side of the story. Remain humble, forgiving and willing to learn — it will make you appear classy.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.