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Guide to the Transition from Fired to Hired

By Susan P. Joyce

People are fired every day -- for good reason and for no reason at all. It happens to most of us, at least once, which is probably not much consolation when it happens to you.

Being fired is very similar to being laid off, except that being fired is usually a solitary experience with no outplacement services provided. So, it can be very tough to handle both emotionally and financially.

Know whether or not you were fired. The difference in benefits can be significant.

When you are fired, you usually do not qualify for unemployment compensation in the USA. And, usually, you are the only person who was terminated.

If you're not sure you were fired, read Laid Off or Fired? for more information.

Moving Onward and Upward

As with a layoff, being fired can ultimately be the proverbial "best thing to happen to you," although you may not be able to view it that way for a while.

Moving on may take some time, but, for most, being fired is simply a "speed bump" on your way to a successful career. Don't let it slow you down for more than a week or two, unless you are independently wealthy and don't really need a job.

You may have part of the picture, but you probably don't know the complete story. That's a tough idea to accept, but accepting that you can't "fix" the situation may be key to moving on.

Focus on moving ahead, and putting that "bad experience" behind you.

  1. Understand that your career is NOT over!

    Read How Employers View You Being Fired to understand that being fired doesn't end your career. Other employers will hire you! Knowing this simple fact can lessen your panic and help you move on more quickly and confidently.
  2. Find a way to dump -- not feed -- that anger.

    Process it by talking with a counselor or dumping the anger out on paper (which won't be shared with anyone). See the tips is Beating the Job Search Blues for help with anger management.
  3. Buy or borrow a copy of the book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Dick Bolles.

    Read it, and do all the exercises. You will spend less than a day, and you will have much better knowledge of yourself and what you should do next, even if you think you know.
  4. Research jobs that fit with your new self-knowledge.

    Search through job postings for jobs that fit with what you want to do next. Make a list of the job titles. Go to a site like or Job-Hunt Sponsor to research the employers who need people to do those jobs as well as the salaries they pay. Choose the best fit for you.
  5. Build your marketable skills.

    Do you need any additional experience or education to do that job? Find ways fill any gaps you may have -- volunteering, attending local professional or industry association meetings, taking adult ed classes, taking college classes, or something else that makes you more ready for that new job. (Read Career Building for more tips.)
  6. Edit your LinkedIn Profile and your resumes to reflect your goal for your next job.

    Focus on your future! Be sure to highlight any additional knowledge, experience, and accomplishments you may have achieved since your former job. See Resume Example: Just Fired and How to Identify Exactly the Right Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile for more ideas.
  7. Research local employers to choose the next places you might want to work.

    Keep your antenna up to avoid the kind of situation you just left. If you had a bad boss or worked in a bad organization, research to avoid being stuck in the same situation again. See the articles in Guide to Company Research for great tips.
  8. Don't job search alone!

    A solitary job search is the toughest way to find a job. Join a job club -- often found through local public libraries and places of worship. Learn more about the current job search process (much changed in the last few years!), and notice that you are not the only smart, capable person who is looking for a job after being fired. Plus, more eyes are better to help you do your best resume and LinkedIn Profile. (Read Finding Help for a Successful Job Search for the reasons.)
  9. Leverage your personal network and social media (like LinkedIn).

    Find people you might know (or who are known by people you know) who work for your target employers and/or in your target job. Check out Social Media and Job Search plus LinkedIn for Job Search for many more ideas.
  10. Prepare for job interviews.

    Your research into jobs and employers will provide you with a good foundation for moving ahead, but don't stop there! Thoroughly research the employer before you go to an interview. Be prepared to answer why you left your last job, and don't forget to ask potential future bosses good questions about how they operate so you can avoid repeating a bad experience. Read Pre-Interview Preparation and 35 Questions to Ask in Your Job Interview.

Focus on your future will help you put this bad experience behind you. KNOW that being fired happens to most people at least once. They survived, moving on to great careers, and so will you!

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About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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