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YOUR FIRED! What Are You in Store For?The Harsh Reality.
Is This Really Happening?
Losing your job...not a scenario that anyone wants to think about...and because of that...no one usually does think about it...until it happens! No one ever stops to realize exactly what would happen if you suddenly lost your job and what it would take to survive a period of unemployment. Most unemployment resources try to emphasize the steps one must take to find a new job. While those steps are a vital means to ends, it is the part between the "means" and the "ends" that usually winds up killing us first. I have taken a common list of unemployment tips and have "filled it in" with realistic advice and tips.
1. Make a clean break from your job and stay positive
Have you ever been fired under amicable terms? Probably not. Depending on how long you have worked in a particular position, you most likely have more personal stuff in your office than you do in your home. Most employers lock you out immediately after you are terminated. Did you have personal files stored on the company computer? Do you have personal items in your office that are valuable to you? Have you identified these things that are valuable to you? If you waited to ponder these questions until after you were fired...then you are out of luck! Depending on your employer and the type of job you do, you will most likely be afforded the opportunity to retrieve the pictures of your kids and that office bowling trophy from your space. But then again, this is not exactly "your" space anymore!
Employers will rarely hand you a box and tell you to get your stuff and leave. The consumate manager will follow you to your desk and question everything that you touch. You will be surprised how quickly that red stapler you bought for yourself becomes "company" property and your manager suddenly has absolutely no recollection whether the pictures of the kids tacked to your walls are "really" yours! Be prepared to leave items behind. The general rule of thumb is never bring anything into your work space that you are not prepared to lose.
After you are fired, you are no longer privileged to company information. This goes for your email, professional contacts, phone books, passwords, business cards...etc. It would have been a very smart move to have had copies of those items at home before you were axed. Once again refer to the above statement, "Never bring anything into your work space that you are not prepared to lose". As if fighting for your personal belongings was not enough to break your spirits, remember...you will most likely be cleaning out your space in front of all of your coworkers. Your supervisor is no longer bound by the rules of civility at this point. Be prepared to be humiliated. This is a scenario that will most likely happen to all of us at least once in our lifetimes. Remember to stay cool. Although at this very moment in your life you may have a sudden urge to tell everyone in your office just what you "really" thought of them, this is a time to make connections, rather than burn bridges. This WILL NOT be easy! Refrain from tyranical rants and email flames. No one will side with you...and no one will walk out with you. Everyone else needs their jobs too...this is a walk you must take on your own. If you were relying on comments from your coworkers to help you out in this situation...you should have secured them long before your last day.
If you think leaving the office was horrible, now think about what you will say to your family. You will now go home and hide. You will debate on how and when to tell your friends and family of your new situation. You will be tempted to postpone the telling of the news and possibly just act like nothing happened until you find the next job. DO NOT do this. Most households rely on every dollar of income coming in. The second you were fired, you stopped making money. The longer you hide your situation the longer it will be before you can start back on the path of making more money. This will also NOT be easy. Breaking the news to your loved ones that everything they hold dear is now at risk is a conversation that you will never forget. You must remember that this is no longer about you, it is now about survival...and survival relies on pooled resources. It may be time to evaluate how you spend your disposable income. It is now time to realize that you have no disposable income.
Do you have the ultimate TV package? Not anymore. Are your kids involved in pricey extracurricular activities? Those may have to stop. Are you partial to eating out and buying things without thinking of the consequence it will have on your savings? Every dollar saved is important now. And you thought telling your wife you were fired was rough? Try telling your kids that they can no longer play sports because you lost your job! This is tough, tough crap! These are all scenarios that if you had realized how tough it was going to be, you may have just put up with your boss's crap a bit longer. But...it did not happen that way...life goes on...or does it?
Depression WILL set in! No matter how tough you think you are...you will eventually begin to question your self-worth. You would not be human if you never reach this emotional low. What is imperative to remember is that no matter your spiritual beliefs, this Earth IS a better place with you in it. Depression, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts...these are all normal feelings. Finding ways to keep from acting on these feelings is what defines your self-worth. Cutting the Internet service in your home will be far less damaging than losing a loved one to suicide or prison. It is not worth it...and you will make it through. You will be on top again.
2. Get your resume together
How many of us have computers at home that belong to the office? Will you have access to a computer or printer or the Internet after you have been fired? These are very important points to consider. How will you prepare your resume or search for a new job without the aid of technology? Do you have the skills to prepare a decent resume? Do you have the resources to find help with resume writing if you need it? If you still have access to the Internet after your termination...USE IT! There are resources available to you. There are others in your situation and there is a lot of good information you can learn from other's mistakes. Remember to tailor your resume to the job you are applying. Sending out the same resume highlighting the same qualifications to different jobs may be the difference between you getting an interview or not. You may be tempted to just make one all inclusive resume to save time...do not do this. Employers are lazy. They want to find the right person for the job as soon as they can. Put the most relevant qualifications near the top and keep your resume length to one page. Most employers hardly read the whole resume so you want to convey the right information about yourself as quickly as possible. Do your research! What may have passed for a decent resume ten years ago is not likely to be relevant now. Do not waste your time and money on resume books or pay services. This is income that you do not have to play with. There are ample free resources available if you look.
Do you have all of the necessary information from your past employers to fill in your job experience? If not...calling them and asking for your employee file will be a waste of time. This type of information should have been something you were compiling the whole time you were employed. Trying to remember back over the last years of employment and putting it into a coherent resume will be impossible, not to mention time consuming. Always keep a running draft of your resume up to date. You never know when you will need it...and for goodness sake...keep a copy at home!
Temporary employment agencies are helpful. Not only will they be able to find you work quickly, but they will most likely be able to supply computer access and job search resources. Temp agencies usually stock jobs that pay much lower than what you may be used to, but it is still income. Plus, when you find that new job, you don't have to worry about obligations with leaving the temp job. So...how easy is it for a middle-aged Account Representative to land a loading dock job at a temp agency? Not as easy as you would think. Be prepared to be classified as "over-qualified". Depending on your situation, your may need to "dumb" down your qualifications a bit or seek the help of a temp agency that specializes in highly skilled temp jobs.
3. Treat your jobless-ness as a job
You WILL fall into bad habits the longer you are away from the daily grind. Do not get yourself on a destructive cycle of staying up late and sleeping in. You must force yourself to maintain a schedule. If you were a person that relied heavily on a calendar to keep yourself task oriented then continue to do so; even if it is just to schedule laundry time or a daily shower! No one thinks that they will be that person who schleps around the house all day hoping that a new job will fall out of the sky...but you WILL! Force yourself to schedule certain time periods to search for jobs. Schedule time frames to fill out applications. Go on field trips to local businesses and talk to people face to face about job openings. A great deal of jobs are not even advertised. You never know...the next person you talk to may not even know they are looking for someone new until they talk to you. Once again, you will be tempted to stray off course. You must remember that you are on borrowed time. This is not a vacation or time to focus on fixing up the house. You are on a mission and you can relax after you have a new steady income.
Don't be hesitant to start with a job that you feel is beneath your skill set. Regardless of your educational background or professional certifications, having a job is better than no job. You can work your way back up to the level you feel fits you in due time. You are in a position of humility now. You must take what you can get. Also keep in mind that employers know this about you. They have the upper hand. They know you are desperate. Haggling over salary is a luxury afforded to those who already have a job. Do not let your ego kill your chances of making it through these tough times.
4. Expand your network
Think about how many people you kept in contact with from the job, before your last job. How many of those people have you actually crossed paths with during your last job? The point is, that social networks change from job to job. Chances are that if your current social network could have supplied you with a different job, you most likely would have already seriously considered it. Not to mention, your coworkers are going to tire of you calling them at work asking for job leads REAL fast. "out of sight, out of mind" is truer than you realize. This may be an excellent time to re-evaluate what you want to do in life. Did you like what you did in your last job? Do you have the resources to go back to school to learn a new trade? Or do you even want to go back to the high-pressure job environment that you left? Maybe you can get a part-time job to make ends meet and spend more time doing something that you love? In real life, most of us cannot afford to re-invent ourselves. If you spent the last ten years honing a craft and have little to no experience in anything else, the reality is that you will most likely need to find work in the same field that you came from. This will also hit you hard when you realize that your only option is to go back into the same type of job that you hate. Unfortunately, tough times call for tough decisions. Maybe this is the catalyst you need to get you off of your laurels and look for a more enjoyable career before you are without a job. Spending some time outside of your normal social network can be a very valuable way to spend your time. You can never know which relationship will be crucial to your career during your slump.
5. Let everyone know you are looking for work
Yes...practice what you will say to people when you see them in public areas. You cannot bend every one's ears to a thirty minute tirade about how badly you were treated by your last employer. You must come up with short and understandable reasons why you are no longer employed. This will take a lot of stress out of the act of having to talk about your indiscretions over and over again and will provide a consistent story that will eventually make its way around town. Any new potential employers will also ask you this question. It is better to be prepared to answer this rather than make it up as you go. You will NOT be able to avoid running into old coworkers. While it may be therapeutic to hash out stories of how much of a jerk your boss was, it will not help you find work. When you are in public, everyone around you is a potential employer. You want to sell yourself even when you think no one is looking. All you have left is your image.
Don't be afraid to let people know that you are looking for work everyplace you go. Talk to the receptionist at your doctor's office, bend the ear of the grocery clerk, strike up a conversation with the guy sitting next to you. Networking will be crucial during this time. Be weary of begging or sounding too desperate...but make sure that you point out the urgency of your situation. People are generally good (except for your last boss) and they will want to help you if they can. Lastly, know when it is time to stop talking. Make your point and then move on. This is YOUR problem, not everyone else's.
In simple terms...losing your job SUCKS! It will suck alot before it gets better! Hopefully some of the above points have enlightened you to some of the pitfalls of losing your job and actions that you can take now to make that time in your life a bit easier if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself jobless.