Tips for How To Recover After Losing Your Job

Updated March 16, 2023

Image description

A crowd of people is seen walking as one in the same direction.

Losing a job can be a devastating experience for anyone, resulting in a sudden change of circumstances and often requiring immediate action. If you’ve lost your job, there are steps you may want to take to recover from the job loss and get back onto the job market.

In this article, we review 10 steps you can take to recover after being fired and hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend unemployed.

1. Understand the reasons behind your termination

It may be useful to ask your former employer to provide you with a reason why you were terminated. Given that this may be a difficult conversation to have, it’s important to approach it gracefully. Remain calm and present yourself as collected.

Understanding why your employment was terminated could help you identify certain areas of improvement and make it easier to search for a new career opportunity. 

Related: 10 Tips For Answering "Why Were You Fired?"

2. Learn if there are other opportunities

If you were fired due to budget cuts or downsizing and are happy at your company, your employer may be able to offer you a role in a different department. Alternatively, you could inquire with your employer about other opportunities within the company.

For issues related to job performance or a lack of skills, you might consider asking if your employer would agree to hire you back upon professional improvement.

Note that there may not be other opportunities for you at this company. If your employer responds with a “no,” it’s a best practice to respectfully accept their decision.

Related: How To Write an Email Asking For a Job in 7 Steps

3. Leave on good terms

If there is no option to regain a job within your current company, you may want to take steps to leave on good terms. An employer who fired you may be able to offer a positive reference to a future employer.

This is especially true if you were fired for no fault of your own, such as company downsizing. Be sure to thank them for the time you spent at the company and complete any steps they ask you to take before leaving.

Read more: How To Leave a Job on Good Terms

4. Consider filing for unemployment benefits

Depending on the state where you work and why you were fired, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Generally speaking, you may be eligible if you were terminated because of:

  • Poor performance

  • Lack of skills

  • Company downsizing or budget cuts

  • Other reasons why you weren’t suited for your job

In many states, you may not be eligible for unemployment if you were terminated for cause. Termination for cause can mean many things but may include being fired for fraud, embezzlement, theft, willful misconduct that damages the company, its products or services, failing a drug test, or willful violation of any law or regulation.

It is difficult to predict how long you will be out of work, so consider applying for unemployment benefits in a timely manner. The application process and requirements differ by state, so it might be helpful to research how to apply for benefits in your area.

5. Take time for reflection and self-care

Take time after losing your job to de-stress and reflect on where you are. You might consider writing down your strengths and weaknesses on the job, what you enjoyed about your job, what you didn’t enjoy and what other roles or industries sound interesting to you.

Be attentive to your need for self-care during this time. While it is important to update your resume, apply for jobs and participate in interviews, it is also productive to take breaks and reward your efforts in small, meaningful ways. This can be simply taking a walk outside, spending time with loved ones or reading a book.

Related: Self-Management Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

6. Update your resume

If you have been employed for a few years, it might be time to update your resume or create a new one. Think of the experience, skills and training you gained during your job. You might find it helpful to refer back to the job description from your position and current job postings for positions that sound interesting or relevant. You might consider looking at examples of resumes in your position or industry for inspiration.

Related: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

7. Begin to search for new jobs

Once you’ve updated your resume, start looking for new jobs. If you enjoyed your job and want to continue in your career path, look for positions that match your skills and experience level. You can begin looking for opportunities on Indeed, on desktop or mobile.

To add filters, select the “Filter” button. From there, you can set your search distance, job type (full-time, part-time, contract, etc.), and experience level. For detailed information on searching for jobs, visit The Essential Job Search Guide.

If you’re unsure or looking for a new career path, take time to consider jobs that sound enjoyable or interesting and research them. If you have the availability, you might consider additional training or education if your new career requires it.

Related: How to Change Careers

8. Improve your hard and soft skills

While searching for jobs, it can be helpful to focus on developing both your soft and technical skills. You might take time to develop the skills you acquired in your current industry, or learn new ones relevant to the positions you’re applying for now. To identify relevant skills to practice, refer back to job postings to understand the types of skills employers are looking for in candidates.

9. Practice your interview skills

Take additional time to prepare for interviews by practicing. Also, come up with thoughtful questions you can ask the interviewer. It might be helpful to ask trusted friends or family to practice interview scenarios with you.

When you do get called in for interviews, take some time to research the company so that you can ask targeted, informed questions about the services and products the company provides and about the type of work you might be asked to perform.

10. Be prepared to talk about your termination

Job loss is common and you may be asked about it during job interviews. In particular, you may be asked questions like “Why are you looking for a job?” or “Why did you leave your last job?” Generally speaking, you should prepare answers to these questions so you may present yourself in the most positive light.

Consider these resources as you are preparing your answers:

  • How to Explain Employment Gaps in an Interview

  • How to Answer: Why Are You Looking for a Job?

Many workers experience an unexpected job loss. You may recover more easily from losing your job by taking the opportunity to improve your skills, update your resume and start applying for new jobs.  

This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Consult with an attorney or lawyer for any legal issues you may be experiencing.

Explore more articles

  • Office Administrator vs. Office Manager: What's the Difference?
  • How To Become a Radiation Therapist (With Salary and FAQ)
  • Pros and Cons of Being an OB-GYN (Plus Job Duties)
  • How To Become an FBI Profiler
  • 32 Jobs for Laid-Back Personalities (With Average Salaries)
  • 11 Biomedical Science Jobs That Pay Well
  • How To Become a Lawyer in New York (With Steps and Salary)
  • How To Write a Position-Filled Email (With Examples)
  • Dental Surgeon vs. Dentist: Responsibilities and Differences
  • 30 Career Paths for Notaries (Plus How To Become a Notary)
  • How To Write Effective Cold Emails for Jobs (With Template and Examples)
  • What is a Chief Administrative Officer?