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Fired!? How to Handle an Unexpected Professional Breakup

Losing your job is terrifying. Not only does your ego take a huge hit, but so does your income. Here are a few ways to handle the breakup, plus a few things you should definitely avoid.


DON’T: Do anything rash.

Getting drunk and sending a company-wide text message to your (former) team telling them how the company screwed you over might seem like a great idea, but once your liquid courage wears off the only thing you’ll be feeling is embarrassed and hungover. Your former coworkers might express condolences, but only because they feel obligated. Once you’re gone, they will remember you for your hasty exit and not the real work you did.


DO: Ask for a letter of recommendation.     

If you’re leaving on good terms—like a company-wide layoff—ask your boss for a letter of recommendation. If you were a stellar employee who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, your boss should be willing to supply or be a reference. You can even negotiate how to talk about your departure and spin it in a positive way. Who knows? Your layoff could be the springboard you need to really go after what you want.


DON’T: Forget about your benefits.

Just because you’ve lost your job doesn’t mean you’ve lost all your benefits. Schedule appointments while you still have coverage, especially if you don’t have a future job in sight. Go see your doctor, dentist, optometrist, and any other doctors you’ve used in the past to make sure you’re healthy before setting out to conquer the job market.


DO: Get the most out of your severance package (if you’re offered one).

Accepting a severance package immediately might sound like a good idea, but take the time to read it over and decide if what you’re getting is fair. In the case of larger companies, severance packages are almost always negotiable. Look for a “terms of separation” clause stating what you can and cannot do once you leave (if you have a lawyer friend, ask him/her to look it over too). Layoffs can mean bad PR for larger companies; your silence may be worth more than you think.


DON’T: Wallow in self-pity (for too long).

Set aside a deadline for the amount of time you’ll allow yourself to grieve the loss of your job and tend to your bruised ego. A few days is great, but after that it could be a slippery slope into a pit of despair that’s hard to climb out of. Losing your job isn’t the end of your career, and definitely not the end of the world. Negativity isn’t going to make your job search any easier.


DO: Take some time to assess the situation.

Once you’ve gotten over your grievances and come to terms with the fact that you’re now unemployed, spend some quality time evaluating your best asset: You! Update your resume, decide how to spin your recent unemployed status, search for a job that you really want, and make it your full-time job to find a new job. Network. Reconnect with former colleagues. Let people know you’re looking.


It might not be the easiest thing in the world to find a new job, but the harder you work now, the sooner you’ll have your dream job. If you need any tips on job searching, check out Joseph’s job search survival guide!


Last Updated: May 11, 2016
About the author

    Kelly Rinehart

    Born & raised in the Midwest, Kelly is a Texas transplant who found her place on the Product & Engineering team here at Jobs2Careers. When not working, you can find Kelly making a mess in the kitchen, exploring the wilderness, or in search of the world’s best margarita.