So you got fired. Maybe your performance wasn’t up to snuff, your work product was sloppy or maybe you made a major mistake that cost the company serious bucks. Getting fired can be a major ego blow, and it can financially traumatic, too. Depending on the circumstances, the termination might not be the final blow -- if you play your cards right, you might be able to win back your job and keep your career on track.
Whatever you’ve done wrong, say you’re sorry. An apology can go a long way in mending relationships, especially if you’re sincere and contrite in your efforts. You also have to offer assurances that whatever happened that got you fired won’t happen again. Convince your boss you learned from your mistakes and you’re taking steps to better yourself. For example, “I now understand that using the internet for personal tasks during work time is unacceptable,” or “I’m taking professional development classes on time management to make sure I won’t miss deadlines in the future."
Try to figure out a way to repair whatever damage you did. If you lost the company a customer because you botched an order, offer to personally apologize to the client and take the blame. If you messed up an entire office filing system with bad data entry practices, offer to redo the work on your own time. If there’s something you can repair, offer to do it as a way of showing you take responsibility for your actions. Even if you don’t get rehired, you’ll help maintain your reputation.
Don’t blame anyone but yourself for whatever led to the termination. Passing the buck makes you look sketchy in the eyes of your employer, when a better approach is to be humble. Acknowledge your shortcomings and the impact they had on the company and play to your employer’s sympathetic side. Don’t whine or cry that you should be rehired because you need the money. That’s not your employer’s problem, and it won’t earn you your job back.
If you get a second shot at your job, make every effort to be a model employee. Go above and beyond to exceed employer expectations and ask for regular feedback about your performance. Be a contributing team member, support your colleagues and double check your work and your attitude to make sure you stay on track.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.