So you think you’re about to get fired, laid off, or be forced to quit? Or maybe your contract is ending with no sign of renewal?
First, I’m sorry to hear that. It’s an incredibly stressful and awful position to be in, especially at this time of the year. As someone who has been there, I know how angry and upset I felt when I knew my days were numbered.
Maybe you’ve noticed that your workload has been decreasing, your boss has been giving you the cold shoulder or your coworkers are acting strangely around you.
Whatever the signs, the feeling of impending doom can be overwhelming.
You probably feel like you have no control over what happens next – but that’s not entirely true.
You may not be able to save your job (if you even want to), but you can prepare yourself for when that dreaded meeting with your boss and an HR representative occurs. You can also control some things when you’re about to lose your job.
So before you panic, it’s vital to be proactive and have a plan in place if you are let go.
Can You Save Your Job?
First of all, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to save your job.
If you’re about to get fired over an honest mistake or a misunderstanding, you might be able to avoid losing your job. Talk to your manager, HR department, and union rep if you have one, and make your case.
Sticking around somewhere you’re already on thin ice won’t be easy, but it does give you options that getting fired won’t. You can start looking for another job while keeping your paycheck. Or you could turn things around and overcome this setback.
But maybe you don’t want to keep working there.
Knowing your manager is looking over your shoulder can be extremely stressful. You’ll be worried about making even the smallest mistake, which will eat away at you and your confidence.
Or if something terrible happened or went wrong that led to you being in this situation, perhaps leaving a toxic work environment is best.
Stand Up for Yourself
Whether you want to fight for your job or not, you should stand up for yourself.
What I regret most about being fired is that I didn’t speak up. Although I honestly don’t think it would have prevented my horrible boss from firing me, I shouldn’t have let her blame me for her mistakes. Instead, I said nothing, and she got promoted.
It can be hard to stand up for yourself without letting your emotions take over. Don’t let others take advantage of you or blame you for things that are not your fault. Be assertive, communicate effectively, and advocate for yourself.
By speaking up, you’re defending your rights and letting others know that you won’t take any nonsense.
As tempting as it can be to blast your employer, keep your comments between yourself and your closest loved ones only. You may regret making a big scene at work or sharing something on social media.
Being let go is a very emotional experience. It’s understandable to be outraged, especially if you don’t agree with why it’s happening. But don’t let this potentially ruin your reputation or future opportunities.
Clean Off Your Computer
In most cases, once you’ve been told you’re fired or being walked out the door immediately, you won’t have access to your computer anymore. They may even suspend your email account. So if you think you may be getting terminated, here’s what you must do to mitigate the impact.
Remove personal files and logins
You shouldn’t have personal files on your work computer, but most of us do. Most of us also have our various passwords and login information saved in our browsers. Make sure to delete these ahead of time.
Save copies of your work documents
Save copies of your best work, but be mindful of what’s considered your intellectual property vs. what belongs to the company.
Having work samples for your portfolio or job search will help you. And who knows? They may even be useful when your starting your new job.
You should also save things like contracts, performance reviews, and training certificates.
Backup important emails
I was wrongfully fired and knew I would fight it with the labor board. So I needed my “proof.”
My last meeting was scheduled for a Monday morning (which was awful), but it allowed me to log into my work email from home over the weekend and save copies of all the correspondence I knew I’d need.
Don’t forget to save the emails with important information about your health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and personal records.
Save your network contact information
You’ve probably made a lot of connections through your job between your coworkers, customers, and other businesses you work with. You may not have a way to reach them once you’re no longer an employee, so save the contact information for anyone you want to keep in touch with.
No, this doesn’t mean storing others’ personal details – that’s a bad idea – but saving the email address of a few is fine. If you’re concerned, ask them for permission to stay in touch outside of this role. It also gives you an opportunity to start networking and putting out feelers for job prospects.
Set your out of office
If you care to, set a permanent out-of-office reply that directs all work-related emails to the appropriate person. You may also want to include your personal email for people to contact you, but that’s entirely up to you. You might rather just completely walk away.
Take a Look at Your Budget
When planning to quit a job, you have some control over when it will happen and can start saving or making arrangements ahead of time. But when being fired or let go, you’re lucky to get any notice at all.
Losing your income is a big deal! One of the first and most important things you must do is look at your finances.
Receiving a severance or having a decent emergency fund gives you a buffer. As does having a partner whose income can cover your needs. Not having these things is a whole different ball game.
Regardless, you need to get organized and come up with a plan ASAP.
Apply For Assistance
If you become unemployed, apply for unemployment assistance as soon as possible – even if you were fired.
It’s true! You may qualify for unemployment insurance if you can prove that you were fired by “no fault of your own.” You must provide documentation or evidence to support your claim, such as performance reviews, emails or memos from your supervisor or HR department, or witness statements from colleagues who can attest to your work performance.
Familiarize yourself with your state’s eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits and file a claim. Give them your side of the story and the proof you have, and let them investigate. (It worked for me!)
Start Job Searching
Taking a few days to process everything is healthy and very reasonable. You need to be careful not to get stuck, though.
The longer you are out of work, the harder it is to find another job. Typically, it’s around the three-month mark when motivation runs out, and employers start questioning why you haven’t been hired yet. So don’t wait that long.
Getting hired can take a lot longer than you think. Even when things go smoothly, it could be weeks before you are sitting in your new office for the first time.
Update Your Resume
Consider your resume a chance to show off your skills and accomplishments to potential employers.
Look at your current resume and think about making it better. Have you learned new skills or taken on new responsibilities since you last updated it? Have you received awards or recognition for your work? Make sure to highlight these achievements.
Next, critically examine your work experience and think about how you can phrase your responsibilities and accomplishments to catch potential employers’ eyes. For example, instead of saying you “managed a team,” say you “oversaw a team of 10 employees and increased productivity by 25%.” That sounds much more impressive, right?
You can get free resume help in several places that will surely make you shine as a candidate.
Take Care of Yourself
You should always prioritize yourself, but it’s especially crucial when you’re about to lose your job.
Instead of letting the stress and uncertainty of the situation get the best of you, use this as an opportunity to put your well-being first. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, staying active, and making time for whatever helps you relax.
It’s also important to stay connected to your support system. Reach out to friends and family for emotional support and to discuss your feelings. Consider counseling if you are struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – sometimes, talking to someone can make a huge difference.
Taking care of yourself during a difficult time can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to build resilience and become even stronger.
Remember that getting fired or laid off does not reflect your worth as a person or a professional. Use this time to reassess your goals and priorities and to take steps towards finding a new job or exploring new career paths. Great things are yet to come.
- Have You Been Laid Off From Work? Avoid Making These Mistakes
- I Hate My Job But Can’t Quit: What to Do When You’re Stuck
Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.