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What to Do When You Get Fired

What to Do When You Get Fired – If you’re reading this post, you probably got fired. I have two things to say: My condolences, and congratulations!

As someone who has been there before (read my post about it here), I know just how horrible/wonderful getting fired can feel. I also work in the recruitment industry, so have an inside look on re-entering the market.

Here are the steps you need to take to survive this period of (f)unemployment and get back on your feet:

File for unemployment

This should be the absolute first thing you do, as you’ll want to start receiving income ASAP. The filing process can take awhile; you might have to go back and forth with your unemployment office until you’re approved and can start receiving your unemployment income, so start this process right away. Get more information on filing for unemployment here.

Sign up for healthcare

The next important thing is to sign up for healthcare. Your former employer may allow you to stay on their insurance via COBRA, or you can purchase your own healthcare at

Take a break

I know it might feel like you need to rush into finding your new job as soon as possible, but it’s SO important to take a breather first. Don’t jump right into job hunting and updating your resume. Instead, take a whole week off from any career-related activity and let yourself adjust to your new reality. Use this time to reflect on your former career and your career goals. Ask yourself – What didn’t go well? What did? Is there a different career you want to pursue? What kind of company do you want to be a part of? Utilize this downtime to get in touch with your career goals, so you can move forward with some direction.

career goals

Get away

You only get this kind of unlimited time off when you have a break in employment! Take advantage of it and go on a trip. Otherwise, you’ll regret not taking advantage of this “UPTO” time when you are employed again with only 2 weeks of allotted PTO.

Set an alarm

It can be so tempting to sleep in every day when you have no job to report to. I recommend continuing to set an alarm so you keep a daily routine even while you’re not working. Doing this will help you be more productive and keep you in a working mindset.

Revamp your résumé

Update your résumé with your latest employment information. My #1 tip for formatting your résumé after getting fired is to only include years (not months) in the date range on your résumé (see below). Some employers might be initially discouraged when your résumé shows that you’ve left a job, and they may automatically pass you by. Leaving the details of your employment dates off of your resume allows you to get your foot in the door and at least have a chance to explain your unemployment status during the interview stage.

pause breathe resume

Set daily goals

Set a goal to apply for a certain number of jobs each day. Additionally, set a time limit for this goal, like only applying during normal work hours. This will allow you to hold yourself accountable, stay motivated, and maintain a healthy routine where you don’t end up filling out job applications in the middle of the night.

Create an elevator pitch

When you interview, employers will ask why you are no longer working at your previous company. Make sure you have a well-rehearsed statement on hand that honestly acknowledges what happened but also puts a positive spin on the situation. For example, if you were fired for poor performance, you can say something like,

“Unfortunately, the job that I held turned out to be very different than the job description suggested. The role was not a good match for my strengths, which meant that my performance suffered. This role, however, is much more in line with my strengths and experience, and I’m confident that I will be successful.”

It’s all about being confident and positive when you present the situation to potential employers!


Get out of the house

Sitting in your house and applying for jobs all day will drain your energy and your mental health. Make sure to get out at least once a day- run an errand, go for a walk, roam through the mall without buying anything, whatever; just get out and interact with humans that aren’t on your TV.

Reassure yourself

Everything will be fine. I promise. Remember that you are absolutely capable of success in your career and finding a job that is a good fit for you. One day you’ll look back on this time period and laugh about the time you got fired. Stay confident and know that things will work out!


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