No matter what your occupation, no matter what results you produce, you are at risk of losing your job. In today’s economy, no one is safe. Here are some suggestions about what to do if this happens to you.
- Be prepared. When you are summoned into a meeting with your boss, know that this is always a possibility.
- Don’t take it personally. Often these decisions are made based on wages, number crunching or a desire to replace you with someone they speculate can perform better—or do the same work for less money. Being fired does not mean you are a bad person nor does it mean that you did not deliver value to your employer.
- If you are asked to sign a separation agreement, do not sign it immediately. Take the agreement home, read it and consult an attorney.
- Ask for concessions. If you have worked hard and are not a jerk, they may be considered. Concessions could include waiving your non-compete agreement, allowing access to work you’ve done that is stored on your computer (or company server) or providing an extension of benefits (such as health insurance). Ask them to allow you to remove your personal items from your work area yourself, rather than have them packed by an intern and couriered to your home.
- Log on to your company email. No, not to send a flaming message or to send a goodbye note to “all employees.” Log on to gather contact information for folks you’ve dealt with. Also, forward to your personal account any emails that could impact your non-compete, your unemployment status or your future career. Some companies will delete your account immediately; others may take a few days.
- Apply for unemployment. Even if you receive a severance, you are eligible for unemployment benefits from the day you lose your job.
- Arrange continuation of health insurance coverage. COBRAs are expensive. Investigate all possibilities.
- Avoid the temptation to vent on Facebook. Share your thoughts in private conversations if you wish, but avoid offering any hard feelings via social media. Remember, your former employer may still owe you money. This position you’ve just left is an important part of your resume—don’t belittle the company. And, depending on your work category, you may encounter your former employers somewhere down the road. Try not to burn bridges.
- Grieve about your job loss for a couple or three days. Then, shake it off and move on. Yes, things will feel different for a while. Some people may define you by your job, but your closest family, friends and associates know you are still the same person.
- Begin your search for your next gig. Reach out to anybody and everybody. Many jobs are secured through personal relationships. Good luck!