YOU’RE FIRED! This isn’t the Donald. This is real! Two words that shake your very being to the core and can have a major impact on your career moving forward unless you take a calm approach to dealing with the situation. It creates emotion, fear and anger (all at the same time) that can force you to do and say things that you normally would never consider. Now what?
STOP. Don’t panic. Take a few deep breathes, take a 10 minute walk before you react. This is not the time to let your emotions drive your behavior. You need a plan on how to handle this situation. It some cases being terminated is not always your fault. When an employer takes the action to terminate an employee there are lots of legal and HR issues to consider. If your termination is based on non performance there should be ample documentation. You should have received both verbal and written warnings well in advance of you being terminated and this may not be a surprise. There are always two sides to a story and you deserve a chance to tell yours. Don’t let the emotions get out of control as this may not be your fault.
Then there is the proverbial silver lining in the termination itself. I’ve heard from many candidates that told me being terminated may be the best thing that ever happened to them. You might find that working for your previous employer limited your growth potential. Many people that get the ax make a decision that it will never happen again and decide to start a business and create their own destiny. I did! Maybe this termination happened for a reason. Sooner or later you will know. Until then you have to have a practical way of working through this life changing event.
Make sure you understand the reasons for your termination as your employer has an obligation to provide an explanation. While it may be painful – you absolutely need to remain calm during the termination and try to listen to every word that is said. Feel free to ask questions or take notes. Remember - this meeting is all about you! Ask about severance, unused PTO payments and your final check. Make sure you understand about the new COBRA laws as the recent changes actually works to your advantage relative to the employer’s obligation to pay a larger percentage of your COBRA payments. That’s good news! Ask about the company’s policy on releasing information on former employees. A large majority of employers now only provide dates of employment and title for legal reasons. That works to your advantage. It may seem odd – but ask your manager for a personal reference. Get it in writing if possible. Reach out to other peers and managers in the company and ask them for a reference on what is was like to work with you. Get it in writing if at all possible.
Once you get through the emotions you may find that you actually feel better once you have left the building! Don’t call your co-workers to a pity party at the local bar to slam the company and discuss the specifics of what was said in your meeting. That’s all downside. Be proactive. Start to think about what you would like to do next in your career. Develop a written plan on your job search. Create or grow your LinkedIn or Facebook account and reach out to old co-workers and former managers and recruiters to let them know you are in the market. Once you begin interviewing, don’t disparage your former employer and it does not help you in any way.
Finally have a realistic expectation of what it will take to land a new job and understand that finding a job is a full time job in itself. Work 6-8 hours each day in pursuit of your next career move. It will be challenging and frustrating at times. But remember, you work in healthcare - one of the greatest industries in the US and an industry that will always be hiring.
If you are good at what you do – you will find gold in those hills. Just keep digging until you do!