6 Things To Do When Fired From A Job

get fired from job, what to do when you get fired, how to handle getting fired

When you get fired from a job it can literally feel like a punch in the gut. Trust me I know firsthand… I got fired twice in a row in under a month… oops! So this week, I'm sharing 6 things to do when you get fired from a job.

Swallow your pride

Resist the urge to tell everyone off. If you're in a situation like I was, chances are you may have a rude boss to begin with, who is guaranteed to say some offensive things, like “it's a maturity issue”… *Uhm, I'm not the one that cried in your arms the other week ?*

Remember, this is not a tit-for-tat situation. Let them say whatever and swallow your pride. Listen to their feedback, there will probably be some truth to it. Resist the urge to emotionally respond to their points and save yourself from future regrets in doing so.

Plus, in most cases, the decision is final, so there is no reason to share your side of the story. You'll likely dig yourself a deeper grave if you do.

Be humble

While you don't have to respond to their questions or points, don't be a petty with your silence either. Be diplomatic and stay humble. When in doubt, respond with an attitude of gratitude.

If whoever is firing you asks to co-sign their reasoning, example, “You seemed really unhappy here, don't you agree?” Deflect!

Too often, especially for women, we over-apologize for our behavior. You do not need to say, “yes you're right I'm so sorry!”

Instead, “I can see how it may have appeared that way, I wish we would've had the opportunity to discuss this earlier, either way I am so grateful to have been a part of this team.” When in doubt, always come back to gratitude.

And guess what? You should be grateful! Getting fired is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Advocate for your needs

In the first job I was fired from, the only reason I stuck around was for my clients. My clients were gone for the day when I got fired. At the time, I was a mental health and substance abuse counselor and several people on my caseload struggled with abandonment issues. There was no way I could in good conscious leave without properly saying goodbye. So I advocated for what I and my clients needed, which was to have a proper goodbye with them.

Initially when I asked to go back in the morning and see them, when my boss hesitated. I made it clear that this was for the well being of the clients and if I didn't see them in the morning then I would head to the residences and see them before I left for the day since its against our ethical code as counselors to cause undue harm. She agreed I could come back in the morning. Saying goodbye to my clients the next morning is a moment that still brings tears to my eyes. I spent five to six days a week deep in these people's lives and histories, and it was important to show them how to have closure in a healthy manner.

The second job tried to not pay me unemployment since you can fire without cause in FL, but I dragged out the appeals process since I knew I deserved it and ultimately won! Don't let them keep knocking you down when you know you have a right to something!

Just because the job is over, doesn't mean you won't have unfinished business, make sure you can leave yourself in as good of standing with your clients or financial needs as possible, since that's part of a foundation for your future and part of your personal brand.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos, AmazonClick To Tweet

Trust your gut on the exit interview

Before getting fired, I never knew an exit interview was a thing. Turns out, its a normal thing for both fired and quitting employees.

When asked if I would do it by HR, I declined. Our HR person knew the issues in the organization, hated my boss as well, and nothing had changed in the 10 months I was there with the 10+ other employees from my department who had quit or been fired. Why was I going to go on record and seem like a petty, salty, scorned employee? The company knew what was up and wasn't doing anything to change it.

On the other hand…

If you've read the story of how I got fired from my dream job, you might recall I had a friend who also thought she was going to get fired. Well a week after I left, she took another job knowing she'd be next. She put in her two weeks and during those, the boss began mimicking and trash talking my friends new employer in front of her – Let's just say, my friend was done.

She went straight to HR, said she couldn't do the two weeks because the boss was too toxic and put everything, I mean everything, in writing for her exit interview. Honestly, I think her exit interview was what pushed the company to do the internal investigation and get rid of the boss. 

Think about your situation…

You see there are two sides to the coin. If you're getting fired, chances are your exit interview will hold less weight, since you're a scorned employee and people in leadership roles often aren't fans of negative feedback. However, if you're in a position to truly make a difference maybe put it all out there like my friend did. If you can, document everything in advance so when you do speak with HR, it's not a “he-said-she-said” game, it's actual documented facts.

Only take what's yours!

Seriously, don't take stuff that's not yours! Sounds obvious, but resist the urge to spitte steal that stapler (I dk if people actually do this, but I saw it in one too many movies so I thought it deserved a mention).

steal stapler

Ask questions to understand short term and long term effects

Resist the urge to run for the door and instead ask questions. Make sure you have a full understanding of where you stand.

Consider asking these questions when you get fired:

– What's the status of severance and benefits?

Will your employer compensate you for unused vacation and sick days? How long and what does continuing healthcare coverage look like? Will you receive severance pay? What happens to your 401k? Will they pay for unemployment? Cross check all the responses with your employee handbook!

Unemployment is tricky and on a state to state basis. Sometimes if you're fired without cause or certain scenarios where you're fired with cause can result in no unemployment coverage.

I my state, it's a lengthy process to receive unemployment and an even more involved/irritating process to keep it. So figure out how valuable this is for you.

– What will be said about you to future references?

This goes hand in hand with who you should put as a reference. As I packed my office, HR said I could put her name for a reference. Which I was super grateful for. It got me thinking, if I didn't have a new job already lined up, who would I have put? So often we only think about our boss when we think about references. A few months later, when my boss was no longer there, I realized it's okay to put general HR contact information since there is no guarantee your boss is still with the company either.

– Can I resign instead of getting fired?

If you're nervous about the stigma of getting fired, see if they will let you resign instead. However, make sure you fully understand the effects of this!

If you were counting on benefits or unemployment being paid out to you, the moment you go from “fired” to “resigned” you'll likely lose those! However, if your employer isn't paying out anything, then what do you really have to lose in most cases?

[RELATED] I got fired. Twice – in under a month. Here's what happened.

Random Tip For Before You Get Fired:

As a general rule of thumb – always backup your files! Since I knew I was getting fired, I made copies of clinical resources, like worksheets and handouts, I wanted for the future. I also saved emails via screenshots on my phone to my personal records that showcased the toxicity. I never did anything with the emails. However, if you might want to take legal action in the future, it's good to have them.

[RELATED] 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Entering The Workforce

I know maintaining your composure while getting fired can feel challenging, but it's important. A year later, after my boss was long gone, the first company actually hired me back! These tips really do work to keep your professional reputation in tact and ensure you aren't burning any bridges.

6 Things To Do When Fired From A Job

  1. Swallow your pride

  2. Be humble

  3. Advocate for your needs

  4. Trust your gut on the exit interview

  5. Only take what's yours!

  6. Ask questions to understand short term and long term effects

49 thoughts on “6 Things To Do When Fired From A Job”

  1. Funny about your tip for saving files… I got fired for doing that! Kind of… it wasn’t files and resources, more my client list and contracts – but I didn’t have a non-compete and never signed any kind of paper work when I was hired. I put my two weeks in and then a couple days later I emailed myself all of my publisher contracts because I knew all of the contact info I’d need were on those contracts. Turns out they were tracking my key strokes and knew the info I emailed myself and they fired me on the spot. Oops. But likeeee I only gave my two weeks out of respect so I’m not totally sure who did whom the favor in that situation lol and I knew I was going to be branching out on my own and this company had a terrible reputation when it came to marketing ethics so I didn’t care so much about using them as a future reference.

  2. Robin @ And Then We Tried

    Great to keep in mind! I always advocate for documenting any toxicity in your work environment. Thankfully you didn’t need to do anything with the emails but you can never be too careful. Having documented proof is always a safe bet.

  3. This was a really good read! I got fired from my first job out of school, and laid off from another, and I really wish I read this article before getting fired from the first one! I did NOT handle it as gracefully as I could have, but when I got laid off from my other position I handled it calmly and maturely, and the company hires me for freelance projects until this day. Backing up your work is such a good idea, and helps your portfolio in the future!

  4. Jessica Fontaine Swift

    Such good advice. Getting fired ‘etiquette’ is something that needs to be understood. I had a girlfriend fire someone who had the log in information to her website.. They wiped the ENTIRE THING! I think the key to getting through it is not to burn any bridges, keep a brave face, and always maintain your professionalism. You never know when you may need a reference, or bump into someone out while you’re with a client at your new job. Just think how that encounter would be after you’ve been completely unprofessional.

    1. STOP!!! That’s literally my biggest fear when I hire people! I literally had a couple of fires and within minutes, I changed all the passwords and then fired them because I am SO scared of that happening! Not that I treat anyone who has worked for me poorly, but like it hurts whenn you get fired, and you just never know who you’re dealing with!

  5. I was fired once before and more than anything I felt embarrassed. I didn’t even feel defensive but HUMILIATED, especially because I didn’t see it coming. This post is such practical advice that people tend to avoid discussing because no one wants to admit they were fired!

  6. Getting fired is such a harsh reality that a lot of people deal with and don’t want to admit. My last job was so all over the place it seemed like it could happen to me, so I quit before I would have to face something like that. But your tips are great! Even for leaving a company that you are miserable at – these are tips that I needed!

  7. These are all great tips! I’ve never been fired from a job, but have been the one to leave. Every time was because I was moving (and once when I was having a baby). I never had to do an exit interview before, but completely agree with everything you’ve said here. Your former employer may be giving you a reference for your next job, don’t burn that bridge!

  8. These are really good tips. I worked in radio for 2 years after college and I was told that everyone in radio gets fired at least once…crazy. Luckily I never did get fired but when I resigned I was so scared to be truthful in my exit interview! As if my answers would haunt my future endeavors…

  9. Wonderful tips, Rachel. I’ve never been fired but I can imagine sometimes it could be difficult to suck it up and move on without doing anything hasty.

  10. This is very good advice and I honestly appreciate you were so open and honest about your entire experience. It seems very clear that you took this as a learning experience and used it to help you in the future, which is great!

  11. The exit interview is key! I let it all out at the last job I left bc I was leaving because of my boss. I told them everything so at least the people staying could hopefully see a benefit from it

  12. It’s so wonderful that you have shared your experiences working for employers that don’t know how to manage or inspire their employees. I don’t see it as you getting fired, but as you joining these teams for a short while to specifically have these experiences, learn from them and then move yourself forward in your career as a counselor. Your tips for what to do before leaving an employer are excellent!

  13. I am so happy I stumbled across your blog! Such great advice and your content definitely aligns with what I write as well. Would love to collar sometime<3 I personally have not been fired but I have certainly hired and fired people and your advice is spot on. There are always new opportunities out there and I always back up my files especially when I am about to quit!

  14. Ashley Stephenson

    This is great advice. I think trying to handle being fire gracefully is one of the hardest things…sometimes you just want to tell them off but you can’t.

  15. I have never been fired, but it seems like (based on this post) there are a lot of positives to it! I believe we all end up where we are supposed to be in life based on whatever experiences happen. So, being fired might just be part of the process to finding a dream!

  16. I would also say to call a lawyer! This will most likely be a huge help and will support you to ensure you haven’t been taken advantage of.

  17. Oh, yeah… swallowing your pride is probably the hardest part.
    But getting fired it does not mean you did something wrong. Maybe you were not suited for the job, you didn’t fit in the environment but you didn’t want to let people down so the company let you go.

  18. This is such great advice! Getting fired is so hard, but it’s so important to save your work! I honestly back up work files about every two weeks because I really want to have examples of my work for future jobs. I think that knowing what your rights are is SO important! If you don’t, you can get majorly screwed! Such a great post Rachel!

  19. Definitely some good tips Rachel!! Something that happens a lot in my industry are layoffs, which might not be related to anything having to do with an employee/boss relationship, but simply for budget reasons. I hope and pray that doesn’t happen to me anytime soon (or ever) but definitely good to be prepared and handle it gracefully if it should!

    xoxo A

  20. Elizabeth Johnson

    This is really great advice! I never understood why a person would go crazy on the last day or make a big scene quitting. You never know what people will say about you or to future employers. I love the final tip too. In a toxic environment that is so important.

  21. I read the first part of this story the other day, and I really loved how you shared your experience. But it sounds like you got yourself out of some not so great workplaces. These are some great tips for someone who was to get fired.

  22. These are such great points! While I haven’t ever been fired, the last job I actually put in a formal 2 weeks for was absolutely awful. My boss at the time basically said she didn’t trust me to not mess anything up over the next 2 weeks so I could just leave right then. I was like, “um, what?”. Which I totally understand, but at the same time that hurt more than having to leave!

  23. Great tips, Rach, as always!!! I think it’s important to understand your behavior has consequences and you leave an impression on people, even if you are getting fired.

  24. ALL SO GOOD. I feel super lucky I didn’t have to deal with any of this in a 9-to-5, but I’m definitely always scared of this when hiring people now…especially the backlash of letting anyone go. It’s so hard! I have trust issues. hahaha

  25. This is great advice! I think it’s important to use the situation as motivation and as a learning experience but don’t let it break you! Let it push you to find something that makes you happier than that job did.

  26. These are really great ones. Usually when things like this happens we tend to be so emotional that we fail to think logically about the whole thing. I was fired from my first job, and I never thought of asking questions. I should have!

  27. Danielle Randall

    This is some great advice! I have yet to experience getting fired but it’s always good to have some advice on how to handle the situation.


  28. These are all such great tips! I’ve never been fired, but I have walked out of toxic work situations and it can get you worked up. Being humble and acting honorably is always the way to go — especially when it’s a situation like yours. And document everything is such great advice. I once worked under a manager that we thought was being dishonest and my dad told me to document everything that happened, so that if I was ever questioned about what was happening I’d have documented facts. Luckily it never came to that, but the “document everything” advice has stuck with me.

  29. This is such good advice. I haven’t ever been fired, but it’s great information to know.

  30. I love, love, love this article for so many reasons. Well, one because I was let go twice in under two years. It really sucked and my self esteem was plummeting. But it was important for me to understand that it’s business, not personal. I hope that this article helps others as well!

  31. Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    These are all great tips. I especially like be humble. I feel like that one will always apply!

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