Lost a Job? Rising from the Ashes!

Jul 09, 2014

A challenge many of us have faced is the loss or downsizing of a job. In 2010 I wrote an article for my Colunm Her Way at the Pacific Coast Business Times magazine with recently fired Chrisanna Waldrop. Chrisanna had a succesful career in academia and her firing came out of the blue. Her story of coping with the loss of her job lead to the article below. 

In the comming weeks I have asked Chrisanna to share with us the ups and downs of her journey and how she is learning to re-boot her life. 

Meet Gutsy Gal Chrisanna Waldrop ..... In the beginning

So, you’ve heard the words, “You’re fired” or “The company is moving in another direction” or “You’re being terminated, effective immediately, and don’t bother returning to the office.” Words to this effect have been uttered from time immemorial and will continue to be said to employees all around the world, everyday, forever; so, if you happen to be the one upon whom Fate has selected this turn of events, how do you handle it? Here’s what a recently fired Tri County Anonymous Gutsy Gal had to say. 

First of all, remain calm. Usually, when things like this happen, it doesn’t come to us as a bolt out of the blue—we’ve usually had some warning (whether written or not) that things are not going so well with the job. It doesn’t matter if your boss is crazy or you are, the most immediate thing you need to remember is to stay calm and remain professional in your words and demeanor. Cussing, raging, crying, slanders against the message bearer’s parentage—all the wrong things to do. 

Second, keep your trap shut as much as possible. It’s natural to want to defend yourself, but you need to keep in mind that your audience won’t exactly be receptive to your message, no matter how persuasive you believe you are. When emotions are running high (and remember, they have to gear themselves up to fire you, too), we can all say things we regret in calmer moments, so just fight the urge to say it. There will be time, later, to deliver the message in a way more effective manner that may get you more of what you want—but now is not the time.

Third, ask about collecting your personal effects from the office and being paid any undisputed monies currently owed you (pay, owed vacation time, reimbursements, etc.). Employers don’t decide whether or not you qualify for unemployment insurance—the EDD does, so you can always apply and see what happens. As for COBRA health benefits, well, they’re required to be offered by federal law, but you have to act on it fairly fast and be able to pay. Your employer’s HR department should be able to answer such questions.

Fourth, if at all possible, try to take a few days (or more) to recover from the shock of being fired. Even if we are primed to expect it, getting fired is never fun and always involves a certain amount of shock. A friend I know was fired in a darkened, low rent motel bedroom, which was beyond creepy, and this ignominious exit from her “fancy employer” spoke ill of them and left her with a bad feeling, too. (They may as well have fired her in the alley behind the CVS for the utter lack of compassion or fairness that they demonstrated.) Take some time to allow yourself to free fall since nobody is in a position to think clearly in the immediate aftermath of getting fired. Try to get several good nights’ sleep and be sure to lay off the sauce as that only makes things worse, not better.

Fifth, keep in mind that you retain much more than you’ve lost. You have all the job skills you previously mastered, you have your support system, and remember that the talents and knowledge you used to acquire this past job remain with you and can be used to find another job. Often, death can be seen as a good thing—the death of bad relationships, dead end jobs, or even infection. Think of it this way: a root canal is not a pleasurable experience, but it’s something that needs to be done to benefit our overall health. There are thousands of examples of people getting fired from jobs they loved and jobs they hated which led to much, much, MUCH better opportunities that they never would have pursued had they not been kicked out of the nest. This potential awaits you, too!

Sixth, once the initial shock has worn off, get yourself organized and stay busy. You’ll need to be prepared to file for unemployment, examine your monthly budget, talk to a lawyer (if need be), consider next steps, etc. As tempting as it may be to nurse your hurt and anger about being fired, you’re way better off moving forward. Believe me, your former boss isn’t going to be spending one twentieth the time thinking about you; and fantasizing about suitable punishments for him or her, while fun to consider, get you nowhere. Even if you aren’t yet in a place where you can honestly review the situation and see what life lessons you can extract from it (and there always are some), at least clean your house, get some exercise, eat healthfully—anything to recalibrate yourself in a constructive manner!

Seventh, give yourself an actual deadline as to when you will begin moving forward with your life and career. Mark it on your calendar; tell your friends about it if you need them to hold you accountable, and be prepared to take some positive, forward going steps towards your next job and your next career as of that date. Remember, great, great things can come out of this—see this transition as an opportunity presented to you to make the most of! Nobody can do this for you—you are the only one who can do this—and you owe it to yourself to make the very best efforts on your own behalf that you can.

Finally, no matter what, try your best to remain positive and hopeful. Whatever we exercise grows, so if you focus on your anger and depression that is what will be present in your life; if you focus on the opportunities and positive elements of exiting from a position that was no longer serving your best interests, well, exciting things can happen that none of us could possibly predict! It takes a lot of guts to believe in ourselves and be determined to serve as our own best advocates, but you can do it!


Chrisanna Waldrop is writer and the Aurthor of the Dignitary's Retreat Blog


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