We Try It: Getting Fired

OK, this is not something I tried voluntarily.

A few weeks ago, on what I thought was a normal Friday, I went to work. I had been at my job for nearly two months and thought, while there was still a learning curve, that it had been going pretty well. I had made a few small mistakes, but always apologized and fixed them, so I had no reason to believe that my job was in any danger.

I was wrong, however. When I arrived at work, a manager stopped me and told me I was being let go. The only reason she would give was that it wasn’t “a good fit.” Even when I pressed for more specifics, she wouldn’t say anything, which looking back I think is kind of shady. So I left (in tears, which I am not ashamed of) and called my mother, who suggested I come over to her apartment.

So I did exactly that. And after some time to sit on the couch crying and swearing revenge (like you do), I went online and filed for unemployment. I wasn’t making much money and hadn’t been there long, but I figured it was worth it to try.

I’m writing this now not to garner sympathy, but because I want to share a few things I’ve figured out since then, and hopefully help anyone who finds themselves in the same situation.

  • Don’t be ashamed. People lose their jobs for a lot of reasons. Assuming you didn’t do something awful like steal or harass people, try not to let the cause of your termination (if you were given one) haunt you. Forgive yourself if you need to, try to learn from it, and move forward.
  • Rely on whatever support system you have. I am fortunate, I know, that my parents are nearby and willing to help me financially. I would prefer to be completely independent, but I’m not. And I have rent and bills that I need help with. Instead of wallowing, I am accepting the help while trying to find a way to get back on my feet.
  • Apply for unemployment. Government aid is there for a reason. Besides, you were paying into it. There’s no shame in taking help. That’s why it exists. No, it won’t solve all of your problems, but it’s there to give you a little cushion so you aren’t completely lost. The labor department for your state should have a website with info.
  • Take some time to grieve, but don’t wallow. Obviously, your financial need may dictate how long you can go before finding more work, but it can be healthy to take a few days and be sad and angry or consider plans for firebombing your former place of employment (note: don’t actually do that). But don’t let yourself fall into a hole you can’t climb out of. Start looking for jobs as soon as you feel sort of human again.
  • Keep yourself busy. It’s really easy to sleep all day and watch Netflix all evening. And maybe that makes you feel better for a few days. But try and do some productive things as well. Clean your apartment. Read. Work on that novel, or some crafts, or whatever creative outlet you’ve been meaning to try. Find free events and explore your city. Find things that you enjoy but haven’t had time to do, and do them in between sending out job applications.
  • Stay up-to-date. Make sure your resume is accurate and you have a good basic cover letter you can tailor to different job applications. On top of that, keep abreast of happenings in your field. Do some research. Also, follow the news every day. If you land an interview you want to be as sharp as possible, and not like someone who just crawled out of a cave and threw on a suit.

If any of you, oh brilliant and savvy readers, have any tips for dealing with losing your job, we’d love to hear them in the comments.

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

4 replies on “We Try It: Getting Fired”

The first time I got laid off, it was at the start of December and therefore at the start of a season with a ton of parties where people started off small talk by asking how my job was going. With strangers you can say something vague about being between things, but if you’re going to a lot of family parties, this ends up with you having to explain the situation over and over again. So the second time I got laid off (right before Thanksgiving) I made sure that a couple friends and family members had been designated to casually spread the news, and it made for much less awkward small talk.

My other piece of advice would be to immediately connect to anyone at your old workplace that you’re on remotely good terms with through LinkedIn. I saw someone put together a really simple and gracious message for this recently, where she just said “As I’m wrapping up my time at XXX, I’d like to add you to my professional network.” If there’s a round of lay-offs going on, there’s a good chance that the people left are going to have a case of survivor’s guilt and be much more likely to take the time endorse you or leave recommendations for you. Take whatever perks you can where you can find them.

Coincidentally, Captain Awkward just posted an amazing guide to deciphering things about a company through their job interviews which I wish I had had before every job interview ever. Highly recommended:


In my city and several others there’s a group for ‘in-between-jobbers’. Not only to come together and lament, but also has workshops on your social media profile, elevator pitches ..anything you can think of that could be necessary. Maybe there’s something familiar near you.
Expand your knowledge. Do an online course (even if it only gets you a certificate). It gives you something to do per day/week, gives your self-esteem a boost (look how smart and active you are!) and as long as it isn’t too silly it might even look nice on your resume.

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