1st: Realize you're not the first person in history to get fired.... Your life will be a little more difficult for a while, but it won't last forever. Allow yourself a day or two to process the emotions that go along with being fired, then get up and get busy!
2nd: Review why you were fired.
3rd: Assess the seriousness of the offense.... Was it a one time fluke or a pattern of repeated behaviors or something illegal that got you fired?
4th: Determine if the employer might be willing to take you back... If it was a one time, not-so-bad incident, the employer may have acted hastily without giving you a proper warning and probationary period. Try to meet with your employer. You may be able to reach a mutually agreeable compromise once the tempers have calmed down. ...If you're not likely to be taken back, try to mend the bridges with your ex-employer as much as possible. Maybe a phone call to indicate your understanding of your firing, a thanks for the employment opportunity, and an indication of how you plan to conquer your "problem" will lessen the hard feelings. This goal is very important for your future employer who may one day call your ex-employer for a reference on you.
5th: If you broke the law, see if you can get an out-of-court settlement or a conditional discharge.... A conditional discharge is for 1st time offenders and dismisses your charges as long as you don't repeat the offense within a one year period. If you repeat the offense, you go back to court and are charged for the original offense and the 2nd offense. Be sure to check with your lawyer for the applicability in your state and for which types of charges may allow this option.
6th: Take steps to conquer your problem before applying for a new job.... Take an evening adult education course on customer service skills, attend a 12 step program, check in to a rehabilitation program, or get additional training to expand any lacking job skills. You don't have to completely finish your program before job hunting, but at least start it!
7th: When interviewing, be brief about your firing, try to put a positive spin on it if possible, and don't lie!... "I wasn't coming in to work well rested and ready to give 100%," sounds much better than, "I was sleeping at my desk every day." Mentioning any self-improvement courses you took or self-improvement books you've read may be helpful. Focus on how you learned from your mistake, how it won't be repeated, how it was a one time occurrence (if true), and immediately refocus on the job you're applying for and how well you're qualified for it.
...And don't lie about why you were fired because it's probable your lie WILL be discovered, and then you'll be fired again! Sometimes references and backgrounds aren't checked until you've been on the job a while, plus you never know who's friends with a friend of a friend of YOURS who may know the truth about your background and let it slip.
...Also avoid showing your anger over the firing and avoid bad-mouthing your ex-employer. The interviewer will assume you'd speak of him/her the same way, too.
8th: If you've had a series of firings and can't get a job, it's time to get creative.... Do some serious networking! Of course, this isn't going to work if you haven't conquered the reason you got fired in the 1st place, and the 2nd place, and the 3rd place...
...Ask family members or friends who own businesses to give you a probationary period of working for them. If you're a member of a 12 step group, ask other group members who own businesses if they would give a fellow member a chance to prove him/herself. Again, suggest a probationary period. If none of the above people are able to help you, ask if they know of anyone else who can or if they'd be willing to recommend you to an employer. The goal here is to get a stretch of employment you haven't been fired from to prove you've conquered the "problem".
...Consider changing careers - you may be in the wrong one for you. For example, if you constantly get angry with customers, you shouldn't be in a position that requires constant contact with the public.
...Consider self-employment. Almost any job out there can be converted into a self-employment opportunity. There are many books and sources of free support out there to help you, and you can always hire an accountant and a tax preparer if bookkeeping overwhelms you. Self-employment means no interviews and no explaining your series of firings. Even if you are only self-employed for a few years, it gives you a positive stretch of work history.
9th: If your firing resulted in prison time, focus on any transferable skills and education you acquired in prison.... Also emphasize what a positive learning experience it was and how you've changed for the better.
...Prison libraries, public libraries, and bookstores may have books to help people with a criminal record find employment. Examples of previously published boks on this topic include Man, I Need a Job!: Finding Employment With a Criminal History and From Cell to Society. Parole officers may also be able to assist you in finding books, classes on job hunting for ex-inmates, or organizations who will hire ex-inmates.
Being fired can be overwhelming and depressing, but it's a problem that can be dealt with, and you'll end up a stronger and wiser person for it. Self-assessment, self-improvement, persistence, and sometimes a little creativity are the keys!
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