What to Do if You Think You’re About to Get Fired

man sitting at table with woman, talking with hands, and her hands are folded in front of face in worry

Perhaps you sense something just isn’t quite right, but you’re not sure what. Or, maybe you have a pretty good idea that your organization is slimming down and your role will be one of the first ones to go. Whatever is behind it, most people will be fired at least one time during their career, so it helps to know what steps you should start taking before it happens so that you’re in the best position to bounce back as soon as possible after the event.

If you have a hunch you’re about to be handed the proverbial pink slip, prepare yourself for what’s on the other side of your termination with these practical tips:

Start organizing

If or when you are let go, you may lose all access to your company computer or technology. Make sure any personal files that you care about are saved in your cloud or to another device so you don’t lose anything important to you during the transition.

Go to the doctor

It may not be the most pleasant of options, but if your termination will result in a loss or interruption in your health insurance coverage, take this time to get up to date with all of your annual check-ups. It may not seem like much, but even having this taken care of will give you a little more peace of mind as you search for new employment.

Read up on the rules

Have a look at your original employment contract and your employer’s handbook or rules around terminations. Make sure you know what the basic procedure should look like and what your rights are along the way so that you can easily identify if you’re being taken advantage of in any way or treated unfairly. It’s much easier to familiarize yourself with the proper procedures before your termination when you’re calm and clear-headed, rather than trying to double-check that everything is being done correctly in the heat of the moment.

Update your resume

Of course, one of the most important things you must do if you think you’re about to lose your job is to update all of your job market materials, starting with your resume or CV. This will also help you to start thinking about the future and what kinds of opportunities you’d like to seek out in a new employer.

See what’s out there

Browse available jobs to see what the market looks like and how you stack up. Give some thought to your own career goals and your professional and personal priorities, and use this to help guide your new job search. For example, are you ready for a career shift? Or perhaps a move? Take this opportunity to reassess your own goals so that you can feel excited and confident about where you will take your career after you leave your current employer.

Don’t give up

Even if you have a strong suspicion that your days are numbered with your current employer, don’t act like it. You still want to make your exit with as much poise, grace, dignity as possible, and on good terms with your colleagues or bosses wherever you can. Think ahead about the job search in front of you and the references you may want to have in your back pocket. Make sure you have at least one or two good relationships with colleagues at your current employer so you can count on their positive endorsement of you should you need it. Make any efforts you can to leave on a high note, since your professional reputation is never more at stake than at sensitive, challenging times of transition or adversity.

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