Getting fired is often traumatic, but there are ways to exit with dignity and as little damage as possible. “There are surely ways to get fired—or at least come very close,” says David Madison, a career coach with the Five O’Clock Club, in a recent column in the group’s free newsletter. Madison says that instead of exploring how to get fired, the key is to understand how to survive the process of being fired. “A generation ago, job security was built into the system. These days, however, it’s built out of the system. Jobs last an average of four and a half years,” he says. That’s why it's important to be savvy about being fired, he adds. “Employees aren’t as skilled as they could be in handling forced exits,” Madison says. “There usually is a degree of trauma, confusion and anger—the latter especially, if the circumstances seem to be unfair or arbitrary.”
Madison offers these suggestions for dealing with being dismissed from a job:
- Find a coach. Their words of wisdom and emotional support can be invaluable. Rates range from $125 to $150 an hour for this type of coaching, but the strategies, suggestions and scripts offered by a coach could mean you’ll walk away with a few thousand dollars more or a few more months of insurance coverage. It’s the things you don’t think of that can mean big trouble.
- Distance yourself from the emotions of the situation. Avoid making decisions or signing anything until you’ve had time to distance yourself from your first reactions.
- Avoid panic. Because job loss may feel like the end of the world, panic is one of the most difficult emotions to handle. But panic will work against making the best of a bad situation.
Don’t negotiate from a place of anger.
- Try to be as nonconfrontational as possible. Even if an employee is being terminated for performance reasons, there is likely to be disagreement with the boss on the quality of the job done. But it is usually pointless to argue your case.
Madison says most employers want to make the exit as graceful as possible. “There will probably not be agreement on whether or not you deserve the forced exit, so focus on negotiating as calmly and pleasantly as possible,” he advises.
Find Work That Fits Your Personality
Now that you're in the market for another job, look for work that fits your personality. Many people think they have found the ideal job, but later discover they are not satisfied and don't fit in where they work. Some psychological theorists and career counselors believe you’ll be most satisfied and productive in a job that suits your personality. A new book, 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality, by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin (JIST Publishing, 2005), explains how your personality relates to career satisfaction. It also provides a quick assessment to help readers discover their dominant personality type. After assessing your personality type, the authors provide lists of the best jobs for each of six personality types and descriptions of the 50 best jobs for each personality. Jobs are also broken down into highest pay, most openings and other categories.
Why Your Resume Isn’t Working
You might be surprised to find that your old resume, which worked well for you before, is no longer attracting employers, headhunters and corporate recruiters. “If you wondered, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ it might not be you. It’s probably your resume,” says Deborah Walker, a career coach and resume writer, in a story in The Career News (www.thecareernews.com ). Your old resume may not be working for you because of a drastic increase in competition, changes in technology and changes in your industry. “If you are still just tacking your most current job into the same old resume, then your resume probably contains a lot of old terminology and buzzwords,” Walker says. “If so, it will make you look outdated, even over the hill. It may also fail to be recognized by software that uses keywords to retrieve the best resumes.”
By Edmund K. Joyce