What To Do After You've Been Fired, As Told By HR Experts

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Getting fired can be right up there with a breakup on the emotional devastation scale. So many of us get a big portion of our self-worth from our work, so being told that we won't be doing that work anymore can be roiling. What did I do wrong? Am I not good enough? Is everything I thought about myself a lie? Plus, there's the practical problem of, you know, rent and living life that rears its head as soon as you get that pink slip. But if you just got fired or laid off and you're in the middle of that emotional rollercoaster, take a deep breath. I've got you.

"The first thing to do is take a breather," Alexandra Finkel, Bustle's Editorial Operations Director says. "Take a week to yourself. Think about what your next step should be, whether that’s a continuation of what you’ve been doing — or whether you’d like to do something totally different.”

OK, have you taken that deep breath? Awesome. Let’s check out more advice on what you should do if you’ve just been fired, according to top HR professionals. Remember: They’re the ones who are doing the hiring and firing, so you can guarantee that they’ll point you in the right direction.

Hannah Burton/Bustle
"You're not alone; almost everyone gets fired at some point in their life. Sometimes it's for good cause, sometimes it's for no cause, but it's important not to panic. Take some time to decompress and grieve for the loss of your job, because it is a loss — of income, familiarity, and colleagues. For some this is a few days, for others it's longer. Gaining some distance and letting your emotions settle will allow you to think more rationally, and to clearly reflect on what you need in your next role, as well as position you to approach job hunting from a positive perspective. Take an honest look at what you loved about your last job, and what you really disliked. Then make a list and organize your items into the 'must haves' for your next role, and what you won't consider if a job requires it. Then, focus your search accordingly. There are some great companies around that offer career transition support and will help you spruce up your resume and provide one-on-one or group coaching on a range of job hunting topics.

When you're ready, start letting everyone know that you've moved on from your last role and are open to opportunities in (your) field. Update your LinkedIn profile and reach out to past colleagues and other connections and let them know you're looking and to pass along any openings they may come across that would be a good fit. Attend and network at association events, and have business cards available with your name, contact information, and what you're known for, i.e. 'John Smith 555-555-5555 Accomplished Media Sales Executive,' so that you can easily leave your contact information with others you meet."
"1. Apply for unemployment.

2. Take a few days to digest and reset. Being fired is often a traumatic experience, and looking for a new job can be stressful. This is why if possible, you always want to take at least a few days off so you can go into your job search fresh.

3. Evaluate why you were fired so you don't make the same mistakes in the future. Remember that 'mistakes' could mean either areas where you underperformed, but it could also mean choosing the wrong employer who did not value you as an employee.

4. Decide on what your ideal job looks like. Most people take a shotgun approach to finding a new job. Instead, you should focus on going after a few jobs that are a perfect fit for both you and the company. This way you can put in more effort into the process than you would be able to when taking a shotgun approach, and you are more likely to end up with a job you love.

5. Get your resume, LinkedIn, and social media profiles cleaned up, and focused on the skills that are most ideally suited to your ideal job.

6. Be ready to discuss why you were fired in your last job. Best to be honest here; if you underperformed, address the changes you are making so that won't happen again.

7. Get your references lined up.

8. Start putting the word out that you are looking for a position, the type of position you are looking for, and start sending out tailored cover letters and resumes to your ideal positions."
Hannah Burton/Bustle
"Many a great entrepreneur has been fired at some point or another in their life. It's not whether you've been fired it's about how you handle the termination.

1. Be a bridge builder, not a bridge burner. Being fired is never fun or easy. However, you never know where the road will lead and if you may once again work with former colleagues. Therefore, speaking negatively about a past employer is a big no-no.

2. Ask for a reference letter. There are bound to be positive aspects from your time with the company and things you did really well, so why not have someone play up all your strengths? The majority of employers are more than willing to write a reference letter and focus on the positive.

3. If you haven't been offered a severance package, find out if you're eligible for unemployment. This will buy you some time to decide how quickly you need to move forward by optimizing opportunities in the current job market.

4. Take some time — whether it's hours, days, or weeks — to think about and discover if this is the right type of work and career path for you. Obviously the amount of time you can give to this process is contingent on your savings. Maybe this is the time to step up your game by taking a class to increase your skill set. Or, this may be the perfect opportunity to follow your dreams and destiny to what is waiting for you from what can be the perfect gift of termination."
"Getting fired is never fun or easy, and no matter what the circumstances, it can be a real blow to your confidence and self-esteem. That said, some of the most incredible people I know have been fired from a job at some point in their career, so just remember it's not the end of the world. So you've packed your box and now you're sitting at home staring at what used to be your office decor. Here are some ideas to get you back on your feet:

1. Take some time to reflect on the situation and what you can learn from it. Maybe you didn't enjoy the job, didn't have the right skills, or your boss was unfair. Perhaps you chose a company that frequently lets people go. Maybe you made a really big mistake and deserved to be fired. Regardless of the reason, it's important to take time for self-reflection so you can learn from this event and put it behind you.

2. Think practically about what to do next. For financial reasons, you may need to quickly get a new job with a similar salary. Then again, maybe you have time to think over what you really want to do without rushing into anything. If you didn't like the work you were doing, consider making a change. Before jumping into the next job, carefully consider what industry and companies you're most passionate about and focus your search there.

3. Talk to someone you trust. Being let go and having to change jobs can be stressful, but you don't have to do it alone. Find someone you trust who's willing to act as a sounding board. It could be a mentor, best friend, spouse, coach, or therapist. What matters is that they are trustworthy and objective, and will support you no matter what you decide to do next.

4. Give yourself a break. Being too hard on yourself won't do you or anyone else any good. No matter how you got here, tomorrow is a new day. Learn from whatever mistake you made and put it behind you. Make sure you've regained your confidence and energy before applying for a new role. Be ready to tell your story about what happened without seeming angry or defensive. The only way to do that is to work through those feelings then start with a clean slate."

Hannah Burton/Bustle
"First off, don’t panic. Even Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job. You don't need to start applying for jobs within five minutes — take a little time and reflect on what happened.

Second, you have to look at what the problem was, and how are you going to explain it to potential future employers. For instance, if you were let go from a role that you hated, it’s not a big deal, you just need to be able to explain it, and do so without bashing your past employer (because nobody likes to hear that).

Third, potential employers ask why you left your last job: don’t lie, just tell the truth in summary in two to three sentences. Keep it brief. If you over explain it makes it look like a bigger deal than it is. Most great companies will understand that sometimes people are let go. Just because you were let go from one company doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with you.

Now if you have been fired from every job you’ve ever had, then it's probably you and maybe you should look at a career path that suits you better."
"There are many reasons why you might get displaced from a job — budgets are tight, the role has changed, the company is moving in a different direction and may not need someone with your skill set anymore. Pivots happen in companies constantly since they have to keep up with the pace of change in our society. If you’ve been laid off or fired, I’d recommend the following:

1. Let yourself be OK with the shock and anger of being let go. Let your mind go through the grieving process.

2. Once you’re through grieving, try to harness your energy to really understand what you want in your next job. Maybe this might be a good chance to retool yourself, go back to school, try something new.

3. Finally, when you’re ready, start reaching out to your friends and network. You don’t have to share all the details about the circumstances surrounding your job search, but you can let others help you land your next gig. The world is full of people who really want to help others, so go out and find them, while discovering your next career opportunity."

Feeling a little better? Good. You've got this. Now go get your job search on.