Know what’s worse than a breakup? Getting fired.
And just like there are certain things you should steer clear of post-breakup (like drunk texts or dramatic Facebook posts) there are some key post-termination rules you should live by as well.
First things first, getting fired is normal. Some of the greats like Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour (even our own Jean Chatzky) were given the boot back in the day, so you’re in good company. After your boss has rocked your world, it’s normal for your emotions to range from anger to “the world is ending” sadness. But here’s the thing. You’re going to be OK (you just might not know it yet.) Being let go means you have nowhere to go but up, but only if you keep it together. Here’s your how-to guide.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
After getting fired, you may feel some combination of depression, insecurity, shame and anxiety. While these are totally normal, being consumed by them can hinder your comeback. When you fail to show confidence during subsequent interviews and networking sessions, it can hinder your chances of being hired, says Allison Cheston, a career advisor based in New York. “People feel really personally rejected by being fired,” Cheston says. But continuing to drag yourself through the emotional mud hurts no one but you.
If you find that the emotional weight of your experience is too much, she suggests trying therapy. A good therapist can help you talk about your experience, and work through ways to alleviate your pain. Also, try your best not to isolate yourself, Cheston says. The more you open up about your experience, the more you’ll see that people have been in your shoes before.
DON’T TELL OFF YOUR BOSS
As much as you may want to rip into your boss, even if he or she deserves it, keep it together. While this advice may go without saying for many, some people think that being fired gives you carte blanche to let loose. Watch it. Those impulsive actions can come back to bite you in a major way.
Think about it this way: Your job is one small part of an entire network of positions in your field. Your boss likely knows dozens of people — maybe more — at other companies, and word of your behavior will get around. Why take the chance of tarnishing your reputation? It’s always best not to retaliate, Cheston says, because you may burn bridges you need to walk across later. If you feel an outburst or vitriolic email coming on, take a walk around the block, call a friend, or quickly employ some deep breathing or meditation techniques. Your career will thank you later.
DON’T BASH YOUR BOSS TO OTHERS
When you speak ill of your company, boss or coworkers, you can come across as defensive and bitter. Your goal is to leave your job with grace, so save all your negative feedback for trusted friends and family. This means that venting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform is out. The internet is forever — even if it disappears in 24 hours, someone could take a screenshot. And you certainly don’t want to leave a messy trail for future employers to find. When you feel the need to vent coming on, Cheston advises trying to look at your termination as a gift. That can be hard in the moment, but short term you’ve got more time to exercise, more time to see friends as well as having the opportunity to escape a work situation that was clearly not the best fit.
DON’T TAKE OFF TOO MUCH TIME
While taking time off can be a great way to regroup and evaluate where things went wrong, and what you might want to do next, don’t let your situation cripple you to the point where you struggle to apply.
“I really believe taking the time to reflect and giving yourself that space is important,” says Eliot Kaplan, former VP of talent acquisition at Hearst Magazines, now career coach at coacheliotkaplan.com. But if you already have to explain a shorter than you’d like stint on your resume, you don’t also want to have to explain a resume gap — so give yourself time, but be mindful of how long you’re riding the bench.
“The great thing about getting fired is that it’s a signal for growth,” Cheston says. “The mindset really has to be about stopping and thinking about what you’re doing wrong, and what’s a more appropriate path for you.”
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