You’re trucking along, addressing client inquiries or providing technical support to users, when seemingly out of the blue, your boss calls you into the office to tell you that you're being let go. You’re hit with a whirlwind of emotions – you’re pissed, genuinely confused, fighting back tears, and panicking over how you’ll pay your bills.
What happened? You were given a pay raise just last year and now you’re suddenly throwing your favorite stapler and framed photo of your dog into a brown box. After analyzing every email, spreadsheet, and conversation you had over the past few months, you finally decide that you were scammed, cheated, and completely taken advantage of by your ex-employer.
You’ve Welcomed Negativity into Your Life
Once the resentment creeps in, you cannot stop talking trash about the company to your family, former colleagues, friends, and even the local Starbucks barista (you were the only customer in there and you swear they were begging for some entertainment). Your bitterness seems to have infiltrated your every thought, because they've wronged you and it’s only a matter of time before they realize what a huge mistake they've made.
During interviews, you babble on about this injustice, making angry remarks and airing out your previous manager’s dirty laundry. You can’t even discuss prior achievements without your arms crossed and a note of indignation in your voice. At night, you spend hours combing through social media, determined to dredge up dirt on your former boss in an effort to have them terminated as well. You’ve even started a new blog, dedicated solely to bashing the company’s reputation, calling on others to share their stories as well.
Rise and Shine
It’s time for a much-needed reality check: this type of behavior will not only sabotage the future of your career, but it can also negatively impact your personal life and mental well-being. Focusing on the past and stewing in resentment isn’t hurting your ex-employer, it’s hurting you.
While you may not agree with the company’s decision, it’s important that you come to terms with it. First, if you're unclear as to why you were let go, seek out human resources or your manager and have a conversation around how the decision was made, so you can get crystal clear on their reasoning. Maybe you took advantage of lunch breaks. Or maybe, you didn’t possess the right technical knowledge to satisfy the requirements of the role. Regardless of the answer, there’s a strong possibility that you can learn from their explanation and take steps to improve these areas moving forward.
You also never want to burn bridges with a previous employer. They’re not only a part of your professional network and could serve as a foot in the door for you in the future, but they’ll be providing a reference for any new company you’re seeking employment with. The healthiest thing you can do is acknowledge that you aren’t sleeping, no one needs to pinch you, and this really did happen. When you take ownership of it, you’ll be able to let go and move on.
As you take steps forward, it’s important to remember that you're not doomed to live in a perpetual state of employment hell. Yes, you were fired. Does it suck? You betcha. But with each new employer comes a sparkling new set of circumstances, including a different culture, management team, coworkers, and so on. So, there’s no reason to try and mimic James Bond and live each day saturated with suspicion and mistrust.
Instead, start revamping your resume, connect with individuals in your professional network, and partner with a local recruiting firm to help you kick-start a new job search.
Everyone is vulnerable to being fired; there’s no such thing as 100% job security. Things happen. Companies change. People can be terminated due to company downsizing, poor performance, or a lack of cultural fit. But guess what? It’s ok. Life goes on. Maybe you were genuinely treated unfairly and the decision to let you go was absurd, but self-sabotaging isn’t going to help steer you closer to your career goals. Being fired isn’t a defining moment in your career, it is merely a learning opportunity that will carry you towards a new workplace adventure.