At some point in your career, you may find yourself in a job situation that feels less than secure. Perhaps your industry is experiencing a downturn and there have been retrenchments in your organization or perhaps you just feel unsuited to the job and out of touch with your manager.
Being terminated from your current job can be a highly emotional experience, letting your emotions overcome you and saying the wrong thing can have enduring negative repercussions on your career. If your response is hostile, or if your response consists of insults, threats, cries of injustice, or the silent treatment, you may feel better for a short time, but will soon regret your lack of professionalism. This holds true even when a hostile reaction is warranted. Leaving an employer on good terms is always in your best interest. Here are some reasons why you need to be professional that are easily forgotten when you are in the midst of being fired.
When you are applying for a new job, your prospective employer will want to talk to your previous employer. Whatever that previous employer says about you carries a lot of weight. If you left on good terms, you may get an endorsement. In fact, your old company may be eager to help you get situated in a new position because you made it easy on them when you left.
Most industries are like small towns or big families: lots of gossip and few secrets. If you flamed out while getting fired — justified or not — people are liable to label you as a hothead, someone who is hard to manage. That’s not going to help you secure a new job or advance in your career once you do.
If you leave on bad terms, your old employer will never want to hear from you again. On the other hand, professional parting keeps the lines of communication open. Put yourself in a position to ask coworkers or superiors for job leads. Referrals are the best way to find a great job, and the people you have worked with can point you in the right direction.
Circumstances are constantly changing within an organization. The company that just fired you could become a perfect fit, even in a matter of months. If you left carnage in your wake, you will close that door forever.
While getting fired and getting laid off may involve different things, it is important to handle the situation professionally either way. And one way to do that is to prepare for it before it happens, the last thing you want to do is sit back and wait to be fired. With a little planning now, you can hopefully soften the financial and emotional blow that comes with losing your job.
Here are some steps you can take to mitigate the damage:
1. Consider Your Finances
Your first priority is making sure that you and your family are financially ready to weather a job loss. It may be difficult to know exactly when the axe is coming down, but whether it is in a couple of weeks or a few months, you need to reassess your budget and cut any unnecessary spending, including luxury food items, entertainment, and any other discretionary items. If you are unsure how long it will take you to find a new job, you should be putting that money directly into a savings fund in case all other income sources are exhausted.
2. Start Looking for Something Else
If you are aware that there is a possibility of losing your employment, start aggressively job hunting and secure a new job before losing your current one. That way, you would save a lot of unpleasantness for everyone and avoid the problem of having to explain to future employers why you were fired. Get your references in order and clean up your current social media profiles. Update your Curriculum Vitae and start posting it anonymously to online job sites.
3. Get Your Personal Things in Order
Be sure to delete or transfer any personal files from your work computer that you want to keep or prevent anyone from seeing. You might also want to secure work samples to show future employers since you might not have the opportunity once you are fired, as long as you are not violating your employment agreement by doing this. Make sure you also have contact information for any colleagues, vendors, or clients who you want to reach out to after you are gone.
4. Avoid Being Vulnerable
If you feel that termination is inevitable, you could try and discuss a transition plan that could benefit both you and the employer. For instance, if your supervisor is willing to work with you and your relationship warrants it, you could propose that you stay on for a given amount of time until you find another job. In the meantime, you could tie up any loose ends and help to train a new person.
By beating your boss to the punch, you spare him the uncomfortable task of letting you go while avoiding the burden of having to explain to future employers why you were fired. Perhaps you can still salvage a good recommendation from your employer, and best of all, you can avoid being out of work altogether. If they want you out sooner rather than later, reconsider before you voluntarily sign a resignation. Instead, try to negotiate a satisfactory severance package.
5. Emotionally Prepare
It is hard not to take things personally because being fired is personal. But this situation calls for detachment. The person on the other side of the table is dreading an emotional outburst. If your response is calm, cool, and collected, that person will be relieved. You will have given yourself the best chance to make the best of a very bad situation.
Even when a termination is not your fault, it is never easy to hear somebody say that you are no longer needed. Try not to be bitter or hostile because, in the long run, it is only a bump in the road.
Carl Tapi is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carl-tapi-45776482/ Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or cell number +263 772 469 680 or email: [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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