Job Jolt: Navigating the Unexpected Path After Termination

Dismissal: Turning career detours into success stories. Embrace the unexpected and transform setbacks into opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Losing a job can be akin to plunging into the unknown, a free fall of uncertainty. While the feeling of ambiguity may be unsettling, it’s crucial to recognize that you are not isolated in this experience. Numerous accomplished individuals have faced setbacks in their professional journeys, yet they have managed to rise, be resilient, and be more robust than before.

Job termination, in simple terms, is when an employer decides to conclude an employee’s contract. Termination reasons may range from performance issues, personality conflicts, misconduct, and policy violations to layoffs due to budget cuts or restructuring. It’s crucial to understand that being fired doesn’t determine your worth or forecast your future.

So, take a deep breath and relax. In this article, I will discuss the various aspects of losing a job and how to stay positive and resilient through this difficult time. It’s important to remember that losing your job does not mean the end of your career, but it can be the beginning of a more fulfilling path. 

Reasons Why Employees Can Get Fired

Performance-Related Issues

Sometimes, the job is more challenging than we initially thought. For example, if you are struggling and unable to learn a new software application for your position, this could hinder your performance and thus lead to termination. 

Policy Violations

Companies will provide you with guidelines on expected behavior. If you violate any of these policies consistently, even after being warned, this may jeopardize your employment. For instance, are you consistently late? 


Misconduct violations cover a very broad range of actions. One example that comes to mind is creating a hostile work environment. This simply will not be tolerated.

Absence or Tardiness

If you are chronically late, have unauthorized absences, or take too much time off without approval, you might disrupt the workflow, which can adversely affect your tasks and the entire team. Not a good plan!

Personality Conflicts/ Behavioral Issues

Most work environments foster a team-spirited atmosphere. If you are in constant conflict with a team member or manager, it hinders productivity and may be cause for firing.

Company Budget Cuts or Restructuring

Budget cuts or restructuring may result in a layoff of an employee. Often, it is due to changes in the market dynamics or the company’s direction and is seldom personal in nature.

Warning Signs of  Being Fired

  1. Negative Performance Reviews

Employees are typically given a performance review annually. Why? It’s a way for managers to document in writing your progress. If you are often missing deadlines, doing shoddy work, or resistant to change, this could be their way of providing written proof of your poor performance and potentially grounds for ending your employment.

  1. Exclusion from Key Meetings or Projects

If you are no longer asked to partake in key initiatives, meetings, or discussions, this is not a good sign. It could indicate a demotion or reduced responsibility. It could also indicate that you are no longer seen as a valuable asset to the company and are being phased out.

  1. Reduction in Responsibilities

If your workload or responsibilities appear to be dwindling – perhaps your projects are reassigned to colleagues, or you are not given new projects – this may indicate that your role is being minimized in the organization.

  1. Strained Relationship with Supervisors

Should your connection with your supervisor turn strained or challenging, it could potentially indicate a cautionary signal. The indicators may be subtle, such as a noticeable tension during interactions, adopting an indifferent demeanor, excluding you from communication, or a lack of constructive feedback.

  1. Company’s Financial Struggles

When your company encounters financial problems and indicates it may downsize or restructure, layoffs may occur.

While not definite proof of imminent termination, these signs are noteworthy. If noticed, rather than panicking, reflect and take strategic actions like enhancing performance, communicating clearly with your supervisor, or preparing for a potential job change.

Employee’s Rights When Fired

Knowing your employee rights is vital in case of job termination. Not all firings are legal; identify wrongful dismissal, such as discrimination or being fired for whistleblowing. If you’re in this situation, seek legal advice promptly.

Right to Receive Your Final Paycheck

In accordance with state laws, this happens immediately or within a specified period. It is your responsibility to ensure payment for all hours you worked, including overtime. You should also be able to add your unused vacation days to your final paycheck if your company allows them to be paid out.

Health Insurance Coverage

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, allows you to continue your health insurance coverage after a job loss, albeit possibly at a higher rate. If you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal on COBRA coverage, you should compare the cost with alternatives. 

Unemployment Benefits

You may qualify for unemployment benefits if you were laid off, providing temporary income during a job search. Ineligibility may occur if fired for misconduct.

Severance Pay

Severance pay, not legally mandated, may be offered based on company policies or employment contracts. It provides financial support for a few weeks to months post-termination.

Remember, even if you are fired, you still have rights as an employee, and making sure those rights are respected is both fair and legal.

How To Respond When Your Employer Fires You

  • Express Your Disappointment Respectfully

Never lash out or say harsh words that could hurt you down the road. Calmly express how disappointed you are and remain professional.

  • Seek Clarification About the Reason for Termination

So rather than question their decision to let you go, ask for clarification as to why. Knowing where things went wrong will help you avoid such pitfalls down the road. 

  • Questions About Final Paycheck, Benefits, and References

It would be wise to ask at this stage, “When will I receive my final paycheck?” or “What will happen to my health insurance plan?” By focusing on these details, you will understand your immediate financial situation.

Even when facing job termination is undeniably challenging, handling it with grace, dignity, and professionalism will put you in a better position for your job search.

Actions to Take Shortly After Being Fired 

  1. Apply for Unemployment Benefits

If eligible, apply for unemployment benefits immediately. This will provide a financial safety net while searching for your next job move.

  1. Processing Emotions

Embrace varied emotions, like anger, sadness, fear, or relief. Don’t suppress them; talk to a mentor or friend for healthy processing and better mental well-being.

  1. Networking with Contacts

Oh, if ever there is a time to draw from your professional circle – this is the moment!

Inform them of your job status and availability to hire. This starts the ball rolling exponentially and increases your chances of getting hired sooner.

  1. Reviewing and Updating the Resume

Take some time to update and polish your resume. Include any new skills mastered or experiences gained during your prior employment.

Now is the time to reassess your career goals, enhance your skills, and possibly embark on a new career trajectory.

Recovery Tips After Being Fired

Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

Losing a job is a blow to your self-esteem and thereby causes undue stress. To provide some relief, engage in positive activities such as running, biking, or meditating. Doing so will allow you to clear your mind and reduce your anxiety.

Focus on Skill Development

Getting laid off offers an opportunity to reevaluate and pinpoint any deficiencies in skills. Perhaps opt to register for an online course, using this time to enhance your skill set, because in today’s ever-evolving business landscape, standing still isn’t an option.

Be Resilient and Optimistic

Try not to hold onto negativity or rejection from the past. This is your time to reassess your goals and explore new opportunities. Maintain resilience even during minor setbacks along the way.

Seek Guidance and Support

A career counselor can help you through this difficult time, helping you recover from the setback and launch a new job search strategically. Take advantage of industry meet-ups and seminars, join networking sites like LinkedIn if you haven’t already, and attend social events to meet people who may indirectly assist with your career advancement.

Applying for a New Job After Being Fired

Tailor Your Applications

Be sure to focus on quality over quantity. If you want to get noticed, don’t disperse your resume indiscriminately. Instead, carefully review the job descriptions and tailor your application to meet the exact requirements and expectations.


We all have had good and bad times during our working years. Having a professional network of support can help elevate us during those downtimes and keep us focused on the bigger picture. Make use of your professional community – former colleagues, friends, mentors. Let them know that you’re looking for a job and ask if they know of any opportunities you might be interested in.

Consider a Change in Career Direction

Maybe a change in career direction may be just the ticket! Suppose you were in a highly stressful sales role, and the tension was intolerable, causing your performance to suffer.  This can take a toll on you mentally and physically. It just may happen that you are much better suited for an analytical position where you can use your strategic planning skills to the fullest.

Taking charge of your professional development is what makes the difference between being terminated for the first time and being terminated for the last time.

Discussing Being Fired in an Interview

Be Honest

You should be upfront about why you left your previous job. However, you should not give a detailed account of the termination. Less is more sometimes!

Keep It Brief

Although honesty holds significant importance, it is equally crucial to uphold brevity. It’s essential to address the question without lingering or coming across as defensive. Your ability to interpret your termination and communicate it effectively can positively influence the interviewer’s perception.

Emphasize the Positive

Share what you learned from the experience. For instance, you may have realized that accounting and numbers are just not where you belong. However, after some reflective thinking and career counseling, you have honed in on what you do best.

Show How You Have Improved

Growing from our mistakes and weaknesses is a giant step forward. Owning it and moving forward with additional training to improve shows true professionalism and commitment. Discuss how you have taken management training courses to be a better leader, for example.

Bouncing Back

Facing the end of a job might just be the force that propels you towards better and more promising opportunities. Consider it an opportunity to reassess, rediscover, and reconstruct.

In my career coaching experience, I’ve seen individuals deal with the unexpected challenge of job loss, only to overcome it with resilience and achieve success in fields they previously had not considered.

Embrace these changes and use the depth of your experiences to guide your path forward. Adversities frequently serve as gateways to exciting and fresh career paths.

By the way, if you would like a little more information on your next career move, be sure to browse our section on career development soon!

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