You’re Fired!  Now what?….

You’re Fired! Now what?….

Unfortunately I think a lot of people in this economy have had the daunting experience of hearing those words.  Maybe they were softened by “We’re laying you off.”  or “It’s not you, it’s the workload.”  but the result is the same – you don’t have a job.

How you handle yourself in this situation is extremely important for your future employment choices and is a true test of your character.  You think you’ve been let go, so what those people think about you doesn’t matter any more?  Think again.

Future Employers

Have you heard of the concept of 6 degrees of separation?  It basically boils down to the idea that if you follow a maximum of 6 steps, you are connected to every person on the planet.   My boss has a brother who had an intern who is related to a senator who married so and so… and on it goes.   You narrow the field down from the globe to the United States and even further into the specific niche for which you are trained?  That degree of separation probably doesn’t get past 2 – maybe 3 – to connect with every single person in your industry.   Let me put it another way…Every single potential employer, partner,  or client.

So now what?

You can let your feelings of betrayal and angst get the best of you.  It may make you feel better to vent about how unfair it all is, how you are so much better than so-and-so, why they made a mistake getting rid of you instead of that other person.  You can point out all the faults of your boss and your organization and get sympathy from your friends and coworkers.  You may even get some of your colleagues to lash out at leadership for your dismissal or feel so upset they quit in support of you.  That would probably feel pretty good.  But for how long?  And how will that affect your reputation?

Instead I recommend that you gather your courage and your pride and thank them for the opportunity to work for them in the first place.  You can ease other employee’s concerns and tell them why this is really doing you a favor to find the right fit and is an opportunity for you to find something even better.  You can help the leadership ease the turmoil caused whenever anyone is let go and ease their burden of justifying why this was the best decision for everyone and why the remaining employees shouldn’t 1) be nervous that their job is on the line or 2) hold it against anyone.

It may be the last thing you feel like doing at the moment, but I highly encourage you to find it within yourself to Fake it till you make it for just a little bit longer.   All of the employees remaining know someone who knows someone and if you make a positive impression in a difficult situation, they will remember.   It is not just your old boss that influences the reputation that follows you in a professional community, but your peers as well.   What can be gained by burning bridges?  What can be gained by being petty and vengeful?  Ultimately the only person you are hurting is yourself.

What should you do?

  • Be gracious.
  • Be positive.
  • Be grateful.
  • Be kind.
  • Be the kind of person people want to stay in touch with and support.

My recommendation is to send a thank you note to the entire organization.  If you can stay composed enough to personally say goodbye to people and thank them for their support, friendship and time together – then that would be great.  I would still follow it up with an email so you are able to communicate your personal information so people can stay in touch.

Here’s the note I sent when this happened to me on Wednesday:

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your friendship, advice, support and mentoring over the years.  This company has seen me through a lot of life both professionally and personally.  You’ve been there for me to celebrate milestone events in my life – marriage, kids, passing the P.E., getting my first big contract, etc.  I greatly appreciate the opportunities working here has provided to me and hope you all see my leaving as an opportunity as well.  Yes, some things are ending, but new things can come too – so thank you for all the past opportunities and this new one as well.

I consider you friends and would very much appreciate staying in touch.  My personal email is and my cell is .

Thank you for a great run.

Has this happened to you?  If so, what did you do well and what do you regret?

14 Responses to You’re Fired! Now what?….

  1. This has never happened to me, but I like to look at this from a brighter perspective. With a P.E, you can do a lot…plus u are very smart and talented, I am sure something great will come your way soon. If you don’t mind me asking, was the company downsizing or what?

    on the other end, this could be a good time to take an entrepreneurial dive! I wish you the best.

    • Thanks Blessing! Yes, we were light on work and as a consulting firm, billable hours are king. But beyond that I was burnt out and deserved it and am glad I was chosen rather than any of the staff that I hired. Ultimately this is very much a good thing and I am starting to think about all the possibilities that are available now. It’s exciting!

  2. This has happened to me more times than I like to admit, but each time I found a better job and have been with my current company for 17 years now. My experience with lay-offs was they surprised me and only gave me enough time to gather my things, a supervised activity, before ushering me out the door. I had no opportunity to send out any sort of goodbye message. Sounds like your experience was more civilized. I wish you luck in discovering your next opportunity quickly. :)

    • Thanks! I am excited about the possibilities & although I’ll miss working with some of the people, the ones that matter will stay in touch. I haven’t had the world this wide open since my 20’s! It is a little intimidating but 95% excited about moving forward.

  3. The one time this happened, I handled it well enough that they re-hired me in a different position within a week…works for me! I think you gave great ideas and, though I am very sorry you’re in the situation, I do hold hope that it will lead to other opportunities you might have missed otherwise!

    • I am getting pretty excited actually. Even if they offerred my job back next week, I’d have to think long and hard about it. I am ready to move forward and there are so many opportunities and fun things to pursue. Money stresses me, but other than that I am very happy to be able to have the summer with the kids.

  4. Hang in there SISTA! Last month this was me, and three weeks later I am having the time of my life. Even though I am not working full-time I have 2 freelance contracts that give me more of a salary then before. I agree with staying nice and not bashing,even though it would make you feel good for about 5 minutes that 5 minutes would turn into a lifetime of regret. I feel that I left with grace and my old boss still calls and I still answer and everyone thinks I’m nuts for putting up with it but I’m the one that has to deal with the consequences not them. Do whats right for you. And the saying one door has to shut before another will open is true. I have so many open for me right now that its my choice which one to walk threw for a change. Good luck SISTA, I’m here for you if you need to talk.


    • I am so glad to know it’s worked out for you! It’s only been two days, so I’m not sure what I’m going to pursue next – but I am getting more and more amped to explore the possibilities. I feel so free! Granted once our 6month money buffer runs out I”ll be more stressed I’m sure – but in the mean time, I am getting excited! ;) Thanks Carrey – really appreciate the digital (hugs).

  5. Thanks for sharing Daria,
    You have a great attitude and the letter is fantastic. I am sure a few people is going to think twice of letting you go.
    Excited is good – hugs from me too!

  6. Daria – you seem like you have a good attitude and clearly from your blog you’ve got great talent so even though we don’t know each other, I predict good things are coming your way. It’s cliche but true that when one door closes another one opens so trust your gut, think big and dream a big dream for yourself. The universe will always deliver.

    – Portia

    • Thanks Portia! I truly am excited about the opportunity and feeling more free than I have in years. I’m already feeling like I should have moved on years ago and don’t know why I hesitated…

  7. You are more gracious than I have ever, or could ever hope to be. Good on ‘ya, lady. I’m glad you look at this as an opportunity, because that’s what it is! Explore your possibilities and enjoy your time with your kids, the next best thing for you is just around the corner.

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