As an employment lawyer who offers a free consultation service, I have spoken with tens of thousands of people who were just terminated from their job. I have learned how they feel and I have learned ways in calming and collecting them. In addition, in my life, of course, like almost everyone else, I have been fired so I know what it feels like.
As I discuss below, I will teach you what I did and what I recommend to bounce back better than ever, make more money and become happier.
Right after losing your job, you will go through the five stages of grief like everyone else. However, in two days, you will feel better. In five years, you will call it a blessing.
Here are the immediate next steps to follow in order to make it easier to move on from being fired:
Apply for EI
1. Apply for Employment Insurance (“EI”) right away. You only have four weeks to apply to for EI, so you better get it over with fast. It takes about 28 days to get your first check. This is the absolute most important thing to do right when you are fired.
How much money does EI pay? In 2020, EI pays 55% of your average weekly earnings up to a maximum amount $54,200 per year. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $573 per week if you made $54,200 or above. You can receive EI for a maximum of 45 weeks, so some good news is that you have a long amount of time to find a new job. Click here to see how many weeks you are eligible for.
Tell your Family you were Fired
2. Tell your family you were fired. Your family will support you and they will encourage you. They will even network for you.
It is difficult to tell your family you lost your job because of the financial repercussions. However, you will have a severance, EI and savings, so try and remember you will have the money to pay your bills for a long time.
Yes, you will need to budget and live life differently for a short period. To that effect, sign up and make a budget with a personal budget app and start tracking your expenses and cash flow.
Collect a Reference
3. Think of someone at work who likes you. Ask them for a reference a few days after you were let go. Consider typing up the reference yourself and email them asking if they will sign it. In my experience, people have a hard time writing references, but if you write it for them, they won’t have any problem. Make sure the reference is short, professional and highlights the areas you excel at.
You don’t need a written reference to get a new job, but it may help in the future. So, try and keep one in your back pocket.
4. Think about what you want to do in life. For the first time in a long time, you have an opportunity to change paths. Do you want to start that business you always wanted; do you want to get into sales? Go back to school? Start that blog? Just take the time to consider where you want to be in five years.
Getting fired may one day be the best thing that ever happened to you. Looking back at your life and where you are in five to ten years, you will remember that you wouldn’t be there today unless you were fired that one time. My life has improved in every single way since I was fired.
Think of your skills and experience which will be valued elsewhere, even in different industries. Worked in marketing? Consider sales. Worked in banking? Consider an industry that served your former employer.
You may decide that you want to stay on the same path in the same industry, and that’s fine, your termination will not prevent you from doing that. People get fired every day. It happens to almost everyone at least once in their life. The fact you were fired from your job does not affect your next job. There is no “Record”; there will be no gossip – no one cares you were fired and no one will remember it in a few months; there will be no one sabotaging your job search; and future employers will not generally care you were fired. Employers need warm bodies. More importantly, there is no law that says you have to disclose why you were terminated. Do not lie, but don’t feel like you have to tell any future employer what happened. When you are fired without cause or even with cause, legally, your contract “ended”. That’s it. That’s the truth. Consider just saying that.
5. Open a new word document. Save it as “Industry Contacts”. In the document, make a numbered list of every contact in your industry you have a good relationship with. Type in their contact information, how you know them, and one personal note you remember to bring up the next time you speak.
You will use this list to network. Once you have completed the list, email one person on the list every day saying you are looking for new opportunities and that you were wondering if they could think of any opportunities you could apply for. Don’t do too many emails a day as it can be quite dejecting to receive no news or bad news from these contacts.
It is important to draft this list quickly because memory quickly fades. Although you think you won’t forget these people, trust me you will. Acquaintances in the industry are not like friends or family, they are people who come in and out of our lives quickly.
Save your Experience
6. Make another word document listing all your major achievements and experience at work in the last five years. You may forget what you did down the road. You will need these tidbits of information at future interviews for certain interview questions.
Career Transition Services
7. If your former employer offered you Career Transition Services, take it. Even if you haven’t signed the proposed severance package, you can begin Career Transition Services for free. In my experience, employers offer free Career Transition Services through a third party with no regard to whether you agree to their offer or not.
Get in touch with your Career Transition Services rep and begin the process of drafting a resume and cover letter. Meet with them to practise interviews. Listen to their advice – they do this for a living so they must have some solid experience.
Make a Resume and Cover Letter
8. If you do not have Career Transition Services, take the time to begin drafting your resume and boiler-plate cover letter. Read online on how to make the perfect resume and cover letters.
For the resume, look at job boards for job advertisements. Copy some of the skills required in those jobs into your resume and take a few more days to tweak it. This way your resume will pass through the filters and bots when you apply electronically at large employers. Consider using a
Make a cover letter that you can change a few sentences for each employer you apply to. Print it out and triple check it and ask your friend to review it. It must be 100% perfect.
Call a Lawyer
9. Consider getting legal advice. You were probably offered a severance package. Call an employment law firm which offers free consultations to review your offer. They can tell whether it was a fair and legal severance offer. There is no risk and there is no expense, so take the opportunity to speak with a lawyer. If you did not receive a severance package, there is even more reason to call an employment lawyer.
Take a Week
10. Take one week off. After you have completed every task above, take a week to sit on the couch or on the beach. You need to take an emotional break. There was trauma, and you need to heel.
The following weeks or months will be tough psychologically. You may get rejected from many jobs, which will be dejecting and depressing. Therefore, take a break before the rush of job applications so that you recharge and reenergize. A break will also give you further opportunity to soul-search and examine what you want to do with your life.
Search for Jobs
11. Make an excel spread sheet of job prospects. Find a job online or through a friend and make notes about it. Then draft your cover letter and update your resume for the job before you apply. After you apply, note the date in your spreadsheet. It will be rewarding to see all the work you have done.
Find job prospects on Indeed. I know of no better job search engine. You can even sign up for alerts for new and relevant jobs posted. Post your resume on indeed for recruiters to find you.
Apply to Three Jobs Per Day
12. Treat applying for a job like a job. Apply to three jobs per day. Applying for jobs is a numbers game. The more applications you make, the better chance of finding a job. However, do not make too many applications per day such that you burn out.
Find jobs that are a bit below you and bit above you. The right job will find you and at this point it does not matter if you are going to make a little less or a little more, or whether your title is as senior as before.
For example, I had a client who worked at a local restaurant chain tell me they wouldn’t apply to a lesser position at an international chain because it was a downgrade. I explained to him that in the future, the international chain would pay better and have better opportunities. He got the job and years later he’s a VP making 20 times what he used to make. I believe his old employer went out of business.
Apply for most jobs, and worst-case scenario is you get the offer and turn it down if you don’t like it after learning more about it.
13. Update your LinkedIn profile to say, “looking for new opportunities”. It’s not embarrassing, everyone does it. This way, recruiters will find you online. Moreover, your online social network will remember you when they spot an opening.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn, get one. Its suspicious not to have one. You may not like technology or sharing information online, but most hiring teams will think you are weird if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile. Not to mention, many job application portals require a LinkedIn login now.
14. Last but not least, what to do when fired? Remember that you will find a better job that eventually pays you more and makes you happier. I did, and so did thousands of my clients.
In my experience, most people find a better job quickly. Usually within a few months. Use the above-noted tips to get ahead and land on your feet after you are fired faster.
My colleague Kevin Wisnicki at my firm, Monkhouse Law, created this video to discuss his basics of what to do when you are suddenly terminated.
Jeff is an employment lawyer in Toronto. He is the Principal of the Dutton Employment Law Group at Monkhouse Law. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles.