Getting fired blows, especially if it’s from a job you liked, or needed (perhaps both). Getting fired is like a bad break-up; your world is seemingly forever shattered. You go from wearing sweatpants on Sunday nights to wearing them every day of the week. Cap’n Crunch and Diet Coke become a dinner staple. Although now you have the time to re-watch every single episode of LOST on Netflix and maybe start on that memoir you’ve been planning to write since college, you can’t stop thinking about money, your failing career and how much everything has fallen apart.
If this is you, snap out of it! Your life is not over. There are plenty of fish in sea, and by fish, I mean jobs. You are most likely an amazing, capable person who just happened to either make a mistake or find yourself with a company that probably wasn’t right for you, anyway. Keeping the same, stable job with one company for fifty years with awesome benefits and retirement security isn’t realistic these days, and quite frankly, is so passe. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American goes through ten different jobs before they hit forty. Yes, getting fired is certainly a set-back, but it’s practically expected in this day and age.
People get fired all the time. Andrew Mason, the ex-CEO of Groupon, was recently fired, and instead of feeling totally bummed about the whole thing, he wrote a letter to the company and the public. He began with: “After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding- I was fired today.” He went on to explain that the company wasn’t fairing well under his watch (the company’s stocks were plummeting and copycat companies such as LivingSocial were emerging as serious competition), and the employees of the company deserve better.
Instead of projecting bitterness and depression, Mason stated,
“For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be- I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play though. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.”
Let Andrew Mason be our career spirit guide when it comes to getting fired with grace. These are some tips for those of you who may one day face the dreaded “talk” at work.
1. Don’t burn your bridges.
As much as you may want to over-turn a desk, call your boss out on being an insufferable asshole, or go with yelling, “You can’t fire me if I quite first,” don’t do it. Don’t even text your former co-workers about your feelings, even if this will release some toxic steam that’s been fermenting in your chest since the day you were let go. The reason is because you never know if you’ll need the professional reference, or whether your actions may come back to haunt you. What if you’re applying for a new job and the manager somehow knows your old boss? Or what if the hiring manager finds out about the vengeful prank you pulled on the receptionist you always hated before your two weeks were up? It’s always a good idea to leave the company on good terms, even it’s just for Karma.
2. Don’t bitch about it on Facebook.
Or Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. Not only can your former boss, employees, and co-workers find out, but the company you may want to work for will look you up on Google to see who they are dealing with and come across your rants. The internet is a scary place and very much an open book; don’t let it portray you as a whiner. Bottom line: complaining about how you got fired doesn’t make you look good and the social networking sites you belong to should really be positive environments where everyone can see how great you’re doing, not the opposite.
3. Cover up your tracks, and stick to euphemisms
If you’ve worked for the company for a long time before they fired you, it’s almost essential that you list them in your resume, otherwise your future employers will wonder what in the world you’ve been doing for the last few years. A way around admitting you were fired during interviews is to list the position as “current.” If you tell the hiring manager that you are still officially working for the company, they can’t call and ask your boss anything out of confidentiality (unless you let them). They will, however, ask why you are “leaving” and this is where bright and diplomatic you jumps in saying something like, “I’ve learned everything I can in my present position, and I’m looking for new opportunities where I can learn and grow.” If the hiring manager finds out you were fired, paint this incident in the brightest color you can find. Be honest, but at the same time, you can say something like, “it was a mutual falling out,” and “the company and I realized we were not right for each other,” even if you were the one getting caught eating forty-dollars worth of steak when you were supposed to be serving it.
4. Learn from your mistakes
Andrew Mason had no problems with admitting his mistakes to the general public. He knew he probably wasn’t making the right executive choices and that he was perhaps standing in the way of Groupon’s success and growth. Sometimes, we mess up. Once, I was almost fired for accepting a counterfeit fifty-dollar bill. Okay, so the bill wasn’t even counterfeit, but my boss and owner of the coffee shop where I worked was a paranoid psychopath. He was convinced that if a customer is paying for a latte and salad with a big bill, then they were clearly trying to screw him over. Let’s pretend I was fired. Then I would know from then on to check big bills with that magic money marker they give every cashier. Whether you’re the reason why your company is losing thousands of dollars, or just a fifty-dollar bill, you always have to own up to your mistakes and weaknesses.
5. Use your free time wisely
Just because you don’t have to wake up at six in the morning and work regularly for awhile, doesn’t give you the excuse to chug sangria and stalk exes on the internet until four in the morning. Wake up early. Make some coffee or tea. Start looking for a new job. If you haven’t created a LinkedIn, why not make one? Make a Careerbuilder and Monster account, or start your own website that promotes you! Just because you’re in a rut, does not give you any excuse to feel sorry for yourself or decide to live off your credit cards. Like Keri Hilson once sang, “Sometimes [your job] comes around and it knocks you down / Just get back up when it knocks you down.” Re-vamp your resume, really kick it up a notch on your cover-letters, and focus on being a better, stronger, savvier you.
6. Maybe this was a sign
I wanted to quit my waitressing job every single day I worked. In fact, sometimes I wished I got fired so it could give me the impetus to leave. A job is like a pair of jeans. It takes many stores, dressing rooms, and sizes to find the perfect fit. You may even grow out of your favorite jeans, and that’s okay. It may take awhile to find a job that you love, let alone can stand. If you were fired, it must mean that something was not working out, and in many cases, it goes both ways for the company and the employee. Even if you were let go because the company couldn’t afford to keep you on, that’s generally a bad sign anyway. I had a friend who was fired from a cafe because business was just not thriving. She found out that the establishment was closed down half a year later. You could take this as an opportunity for a new direction in life; choose a different path, maybe go back to school. Not all paths were meant to be, so embrace this derailment, try something new and always strive for better.
Have I made you feel better, yet? Have you changed back into that pencil skirt that makes your ass look totally awesome and decided to apply for that marketing position your friend was telling you about? Did you go to the grocery store and buy some real food, like protein and veggies to celebrate the new you that’s going to conquer the world? I hope so. If the guy who created Groupon can survive his new unemployment with dignity and acceptance, so can you.