What Steps Should You Take if You are Fired for a Legitimate Reason?
Getting fired, or receiving a termination notice, can be a real blow to your ego. Sometimes an individual receives several warnings before the formal termination notice; other times it seems to come out of the blue. In some cases, the firing seems completely random. In other cases, there are clear organizational restructuring issues that eliminate the position. In still other cases though, letting an individual go from the job is an appropriate managerial decision. If you are the recipient of such an action, a very quiet little voice inside may say "I knew this was coming." But what do you do next?
If you are fired for a legitimate reason, take the time to write down or journal your thoughts about the circumstances that led to your termination. Acknowledge the issues that you know make the firing legitimate. Don't be afraid to explore your feelings, in a realistic and honest way.
Then, after you've taken a day or so away from what you have written, go back and reread your writings. What do you hear when you read your own journal entry? Were there any patterns that were occurring? Are there any themes in your entry that helps you better understand your own contribution to the situation.
When applying for your next job, you may need to explain yourself, and a realistic appraisal will go far in understanding what you learned from the previous employment experience, and in understanding how you tolerated the challenge there.
The goal is to reframe and understand your responsibility in the circumstance. Perhaps you lacked certain skills, or overestimated your ability to multitask or engage in a skill set that you thought you had mastered. Perhaps you did not ask for guidance often enough, or failed to ask for training in a situation you had not encountered. When an individual is fired for a legitimate reason, both parties have a role in the outcome. If there was something you needed but did not get, the responsibility is yours to ask for it. This can be something as simple as the software necessary to complete the task, or something more complex, like training for a particular skill or responsibility.
When interviewing for a new position after you are fired, be frank, but confident. Admit that you did not have enough knowledge, or did not ask for help soon enough. Help the new potential employer find reasons to hire you, and what you bring to his team, rather than reject you for mistakes. If you come across as a complaining, whining or blaming employee, you will likely not present yourself as someone the new employer wants on his team. Be positive about the past experience; let the potential new employer know that you know where your needs lie. An insightful employee who has a history of a single termination is much more favorable as a potential employee, than a whiner, blamer or complainer.
Dr. Julie Armstrong, has more than 20 years of Nursing & Psychology experience in the Mental Health Field. She began her career as a Registered Nurse on the psychiatric units at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital. She retains her expertise and her certification as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and is an Expert Witness for the Board of Registered Nursing.
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