How I Recovered From Being Fired

by Nena Schvaneveldt, Head Editor, INALJ Utah
(previously published 7/31/13)

How I recovered from being fired

NenaSMy last blog post brought a lot of feedback. Most of it told me what I suspected: I wasn’t alone in having been fired. I know the questions I had were similar to the ones others had, so I thought I’d tell you what worked for me.

1. Take care of yourself – I broke out the old breakup playlists I’d made and wallowed in sadness for a while. Being fired is terrible, and it’s okay to feel bad. Do what you have to do to feel better, provided that it’s constructive and not something you’ll regret. If you need to whine, keep it off the internet. Having friends and family who will commiserate with you will pay off really well here.

2. Be honest – Why did you get fired? This is tough: examine what happened and determine how much of it you were responsible for. If what you did had any part in your getting fired, think through how you could change it going forward. Then do what you can to make that change, whether it’s keeping a sense of humor that is professional, buying a fancy alarm clock to wake up on time, or asking a ton of questions instead of striking your own path.

3. Change your attitude – Yes, being fired is awful, but you can’t let yourself dwell in bitterness without it affecting you. If all you think about is how life isn’t fair because you were fired, you will likely not come across well in interviews. It’s hard, but one of the most brilliant suggestions I’ve read about being fired is to make a mental shift – tell yourself that you left. It’s true – even though you left on different terms. The job market is like the dating market – do you want to go on a date with the person hung up on the one that got away?

4. Get your story straight – Once you’ve done some thinking and healing and are ready to go to interviews, you face the dreaded question – “Why did you leave your last job?” The best way to have a good answer to this question is to incorporate what you’ve learned from the firing and practice a one to two sentence answer to this question. There’s a huge difference between “I was fired and it wasn’t fair!” and “I was actually fired, but it has turned out okay because I learned something.” Practice your answer over and over until it sounds natural.

5. Put it in the rear view mirror – By the time I got my next library job after I’d been fired, I’d had other jobs for about four years. I’d built up a list of hard work and accomplishments, as well as a good work ethic and reputation. It was easy to see that I had a rough start to my career, but that I was serious. My interim work was outside of libraries, and that gave me good experience. I’d proved to myself that I could succeed, and that was important after my confidence was shaken.

If you want to read another great blog post about rebounding after being fired, check out this one at Captain Awkward.

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