How to Get Fired

One day, if you are very unlucky (or lucky, it depends) you might get fired. It’s not as funny as they play it in the movies, but maybe they play it funny because it is one of those things that makes your shit turn to water. I recently had that experience, and I thought I might walk someone through it because right after it happens? You’ll need some handholding.

Before it happens

  1. You’re going to have a meeting and it will probably be set up at a time when you won’t think you’re getting fired. I had one job that fired people after reviews and you knew who was getting fired because they got called in last. At my firing, I was told to stay after an all-staff meeting about a project I was on. I had to give a summary of everything I had done.
  2. A week or so before it happens, you might be asked some odd questions, like what are your passwords (they’re updating things, they swear!) or you might have to give an update on all your projects. If this mysteriously happens, be on your guard.
  3. Your HR person will act really stressed out for a week. You won’t know who is getting canned, but someone is getting canned.

When it happens

  1. You’ll probably have your manager and the HR person in there with you. Unless you’ve done something really wrong (like stolen from the company or consistently come in late) the reason will probably be total bullshit (I wasn’t happy enough). The most important thing to do is to react with grace. You may cry, and that’s okay, but don’t get angry. Why? You don’t want to confirm anything for them. Say exactly this, “I’m sorry you feel that way and I’m sorry I won’t be able to continue on [project that is really important to you].”
  2. You won’t be thinking straight and will probably have to go directly to your desk to clean up (which is thrilling, let me tell you. Nothing says humiliation like walking out of your office with a giant box at 2 in the afternoon!). The HR person (or security guard) will be watching you do this. Try to ask a few important questions like how to get COBRA.
  3. Continue to be graceful. Don’t smash things around. Just quietly pack up your stuff. Crying is okay.

After you get home

  1. Call a person you trust: your mom, your partner, your best friend, whoever. Tell them honestly what happened and why you think it really happened. When I got fired, I knew I didn’t deserve it, but I also knew my behavior maybe could have been better in some ways. Say everything you’re going to be afraid to say in a couple of days.
  2. Make up a story for people who really don’t need to know. Say you got laid off due to the economy. It’s easier and invites fewer questions. With close friends and family, you don’t have to be perfectly honest. My family can be total douche-canoes in situations like this, so I kept with the laid-off story.
  3. Take a break. Watch a movie. Eat some mac and cheese. Try not to think about it for the rest of the day. I don’t recommend drinking since booze acts as a depressant. I do recommend ice-cream.
  4. If you can afford it, call your therapist and make an appointment.

The Next Day

  1. Apply for unemployment. In most cases, your employer still has to pay unemployment, even if they fire you, except in cases in which you really broke the rules (like stealing).
  2. Send an email to the HR person asking about COBRA (you maybe forgot about that in your panic the day before).
  3. Update your resume. On your resume, you are going to have that ugly scar from the day before. Try to fill it in with something ““ maybe go freelance in your particular industry so you have something different at the top. It will make an interview a lot easier.
  4. Update your LinkedIn ““ I never thought LinkedIn worked until it helped me get a new job.
  5. Get in touch with people from past jobs that didn’t fire you and with allies from job that did. Go to lunch/coffee with them. Don’t say negative things about your old job (in some cases, don’t mention you were fired), instead treat them as potential job-givers and pick their brains about what they are currently doing. It sounds trite, but networking is everything. Try to get some of these people to write recommendations on your LinkedIn.

At an Interview

  1. No interview is as nerve-wracking as the one you get post-firing. One benefit to the economy being so poor is that they often don’t ask why you left your last job because of course, the economy is bad. If you’ve managed to put freelance at the top of your resume, you’ll also maybe sidestep that gem.
  2. If you do get asked, have a good answer. If you got fired for bullshit reasons, you probably just conflicted with your boss. Here’s a good answer, “Job A was a poor person/organization fit and it was a mutual decision to let me go. That said, I feel that Job I am Interviewing For is a much better fit due to [list of values that you are going to say you love].”
  3. Act like you weren’t fired. Your confidence will be shot, but pretend like it isn’t.

Look, getting fired isn’t fun. It’s one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. Hopefully this guide will make it less stressful.

Share your stories and advice in the comments.

8 replies on “How to Get Fired”

Oh boy, I have some knowledge of this one. All the tips up there are excellent. Here are a few more that might help.

1. Get as many testimonials on LinkedIn as possible–from clients, co-workers, former bosses, former co-workers, anybody who can say something good about you as an employee/colleague.

2. During your exit interview, ask for a letter of recommendation from your direct supervisor. This can save you having to worry about using them as a reference that will be called.

3. If asked why you were fired, keep it short and sweet…and honest. It wasn’t a good fit is always a good stand-by. Do not say you were laid-off if you weren’t, that one can bite you on the ass.

4. Give yourself a couple recovery days, then go at your job search like it’s a job. Set goals for yourself, make it your #1 priority.

5. It probably goes without saying, but whenever possible ALWAYS address your cover letter to an actual person. Call the company, check their website, scour LinkedIn (tip: if you find someone from their company, the check the right hand side for people who’ve also reviewed that person…if you keep drilling down that way you’ll eventually find the person you need).

6. If you’re supposed to send the resume to HR, also find out who you’d be directly reporting to and send them a resume as well. HR people are gatekeepers of the basics. A lot of the time they don’t know the full scope of the job and may pass by someone who’s a good fit because something doesn’t fit into their little HR box.

7. When you meet your goals each week–reward yourself with something. A book, a pedi, new polish. Those little things will go a long way in keeping your spirits up.

if you see it coming at all, you should update your resume before the ax falls. (you should actually always have an updated resume, but that’s a chore many of us hate.) and you should start backing up/copying/printing stuff you may need down the line, that you can’t take when you are being watched by HR. eg, you may want to print out your contacts from your email ahead of time.

My coworker got fired. I was so upset that I went home and cried. Life goes on, etc etc, and months later during our busy season I started having a really hard time with work stress and intense home life stress. I started slipping up and a cowoker gives me a heads up that when fired coworker was let go he talked an immense amount of shit about me to? what? bargain for his job? no idea. But he planted the seed and when I had problems later on it hatched and my boss started wondering if he was right all along.

I haven’t been fired yet, but I think it’s only a matter of time.
Ugh. Dick. I legit wept when he was fired I considered him such a good friend… Thanks, bro.

Well, that pretty much sums it up! Nice recap!

When I was “laid off”, I had a feeling going into it. As I realized it was happening, my instinct was to get the hell out. I think I shocked them because it took maybe five minutes for the whole thing to go down- why the hell would I want to talk about it any more than that?!?

I didn’t cry there, I got to my car and ended up meeting the Mr. at a restaurant near my house. We needed to regroup before we went home to the kids. Worst day ever.

BUT, it’s been a year. It stings less. Life has gone on, and it’s gotten better, so there’s that. And once you’ve lost one job, you know that being let go isn’t the end of the world!

I’ve been fired from one job, and it was a waitressing job I had for a month in my senior year of highschool at a sushi restaurant. Tall clueless white girl + only-speak-Japanese stressed-out sushi proprietors = made enough to buy my prom dress and got ‘let go’ when I called to quit.

That said, I’m bookmarking this for the day when I do get fired (fingers crossed for not for a long time).

Getting fired is one of my nightmares, so I am going to bookmark this in case that day ever comes, because I don’t think I would be able to get through it unless someone tells me how.

I was fired from my second job when I was 17 because I “didn’t get along with the other girls” at a retail store. And by “didn’t get along with,” my manager meant that I didn’t let the other girls put my sales under their numbers and didn’t go out with them outside of work, which included not going to barrel racing night with them (I didn’t barrel race). I also refused to listen when they talked crap about an assistant manager who had been fired a week before me. I was told to continue coming in for two weeks for some reason. So I did. It was awful. I wouldn’t talk to anyone except my customers and any time there were no customers, I would clean by myself while the other girls stood at the counter and chit chatted. When my shift was over, I would go home and cry.

The manager who fired me was actually a good friend of my parents, and that was not the first time she was a horrible person to me.

My number one advice is, like you said, don’t cry. But when you leave after you get fired, get in your car and drive to another parking lot a short distance away. Ball your eyes out there and call your mom.

Eugh, that is craptastic that they made you work the extra two weeks. When I did have to let people go in retail (our store was closing, everyone knew it), I’d schedule them redundantly for the next week and let them choose if they wanted to work it.

But I’m glad that you know it’s because they were being a horrible person.

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