Getting fired from a job can be devastating, resulting in sudden change and requiring immediate action. If you have been fired from a job, there are several steps you can take to recover from job loss and get back onto the job market:
- Ask why you’ve been fired
- Learn if there are other opportunities for you with this employer
- Leave on good terms
- File for unemployment benefits (if eligible)
- Take time for self reflection and care
- Update your resume
- Begin the job search
- Improve your technical and soft skills
- Practice your interview skills
- Be prepared to talk about your job loss
If you have been fired from a job, there are 10 key steps you can take to recover from the loss and hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend out of work.
1. Ask for a complete reason for your termination
Immediately upon being fired, ask your former employer to provide the reason in detail. This may be a difficult conversation, so it’s important to approach it gracefully. One tactic is to use your breathing and body language to stay calm: take deep breaths in and out, and keep your legs uncrossed and hands unclenched.
You can phrase your question in several ways:
- “This is disappointing news. Can you give me more details on the reasons for my termination?”
- “I regret that I’ll be leaving this way. Can you give me additional context around your decision?”
Understanding why you were fired could help you identify certain areas of improvement. If you’ve been let go for performance reasons, you’ll want to know how to avoid this issue again. There may be other reasons why you’re being terminated and if it’s not related to your performance, that will be helpful context as you look for new jobs.
2. Learn if there are other opportunities for you with this employer
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.
3. Leave on good terms
If there is no option to regain a job within your current company, 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.
4. File for unemployment benefits
Depending on the state where you work and why you were fired, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. 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
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. This is just a short list of what it can mean to be fired for cause. To learn more about how this is defined by your employer, review your employment contract and the policies in your state.
It is difficult to predict how long you will be out of work. If you are eligible, apply 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.
6. Update your resume
If you have been employed for a few years, if 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.
Use Free Resume Samples
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 positions you’re applying for. 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 skills like professional body language, confidence and thoughtful questions for the interviewer. It might be helpful to ask trusted friends or family to practice interview scenarios and test questions 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.
Related: Top 16 Interview Questions and Answers
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?”. You should prepare answers to these questions so that you can present yourself in the most positive light.
Consider these resources as you are preparing your answers:
Many workers experience unexpected job loss. You can recover from getting fired quickly if you respond gracefully and take action to improve your skills, update your resume and apply for new jobs.