Long retired, I can now confess my dark secret. Many, many years ago I was fired. I didn’t steal money, punch out someone nor commit a crime. I just ticked off my bosses because I refused to back down from disciplining a lousy employee whose father happened to be a company vice president.
Along with knowing I was unfairly canned, it severely hurt my ego as well as bank account. Fortunately, the bosses asked me to hang around for a month or two to train my replacement, then resign officially and disappear. For that I was promised favorable references. I could just imagine the words: not a team player, stubborn, refuses to cooperate, etc., etc.
So, what was I to do? Anger told me at first to say to hell with it and just take off immediately. However, logic told me that the stay of execution would give me time while still on salary to find something else. I began working up my resumé and portfolio.
Of course, not every canned employee gets that extra time, but I began looking immediately. When you lose your job, or believe the axe is coming soon, don’t take time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Update your resumé, put together the best possible examples of your most recent work and get out into the career marketplace.
Should you write FIRED on your resumé about the most recent disaster. Hell no! Put in some less obvious reason, such as company workforce reduction, seeking better opportunities or need to relocate. You don’t have to fib, but soften the reason to be less damaging. Of course, if you’ve been kicked out for stealing, drug abuse, boozing, goofing off or interfering with your boss’ love life, you’re on your own, pal.
In addition to corporate jobs, I also applied for teaching positions. Then, out of the blue came an offer from an Ivy League university. I was accepted as a grad student/teaching assistant, with a modest salary and free tuition. Fortunately, the position didn’t require references from the lost job, just my undergrad grades and references from the college where I’d earned my bachelor’s degree.
When you need to make the step, write a new resumé that emphasizes your strong points: education, experience, work ethic, and if appropriate, provide competent samples. Make the accompanying letter short, positive and to the point. Never, never moan that you were fired without cause or otherwise were unfairly treated. It will just imprint WIMP on your forehead.
Additionally, contact people at work, church, school or elsewhere who believe in you and are willing to help. Have them write positive reference letters to go along with new resumé and cover letter.
Summary: After grad school, I landed a management job and stayed with the same company for more than 25 years. Therefore, if you’re a fellow firee, I wish you good luck in your search for a new and better job!