The big thing about getting fired is not the process of getting fired itself, but the job-hunt afterwards. The good news is that the working world is changing fast. One of the ways that the traditional Godzilla structure keeps working people in line is that it tells them “If you get fired, good luck getting hired anywhere else!”
It used to be a huge thing if you got fired and then had to say “I got fired from my last job” when you started your job search. You don’t have to do that now. Getting fired is not even a real thing. It just means that an employer said “Hit the road” before you said “I’m out of here.” It’s not a legal designation.
It’s just a conversation. We have to shake the toxic lemonade out of our veins and stop thinking that a job application is a legal document or more fundamentally, that organizations have more power than individual people do. That is nonsense!
If you are about to get fired, you can quit. Your boss or someone in HR can begin to say “Look, we can see that it’s not working out and so —”
and you can interrupt them and say “Let me make this easy – I quit!” However, if you don’t have another job lined up, don’t quit, because if you quit you won’t be eligible for unemployment compensation. Let them fire you. It doesn’t matter.
Most employers these days will never give a bad reference, because they don’t want to be sued. They won’t tell another employer that they fired you. All they are likely to do is to confirm the dates that you worked for them and your job titles. Here in the U.S. they can’t confirm your salary without your permission. For the same reason, many employers will not make you ineligible for rehire just because one manager terminated you.
If you sign an application or a background-checking form that gives your possible new employer the right to check your references and if your former employer tells the new employer that you are ineligible for rehire, the new employer will ask you what’s up. You’ll say “It was a difficult situation leading up to my departure.
“We had differences of opinion that were significant enough that it was obvious the fit was not good. I am surprised that I am ineligible for rehire there but of course, I don’t intend to work in that organization again in any case.”
Your relationship with your new hiring manager is the key. If he or she doesn’t trust your judgment, why would you want to work on his or her team?
You never have to say “I was fired” during your job search. We still have the outdated idea that being fired puts a mark on shame on you. It’s not true. Most of the people who get fired from their jobs in my experience are not bad people or bad employees.
We do not know how to be adults at work. We do not know how to talk about energy. When two people don’t resonate together, that is an energetic mismatch. It doesn’t make one person wrong. An immature or flustered boss may not know how to put words around the mismatch, so he or she will say “You aren’t meeting my requirement.”
You may think “The feeling is mutual, sweetheart” and be happy to be out of the bad work environment. When you apply for a new job, you can simply say that you left. I don’t want you lobbing resumes or applications into faceless Black Hole portals, anyway.
When you send a Pain Letter directly to your hiring manager, there is no mention of course of how or why you left your last employer.
The question “Why did you leave Acme Explosives?” may come up at a job interview. It probably will, and that’s good, because that’s just the kind of question employers should be asking. After all, your story is your brand.
“I had a great time learning for the first three years,” you will say, “and then it was time to go. I needed a bigger challenge.”
If you were in your job for a short time you can say “I misjudged that situation, honestly. I thought it was going to be a channel development job, but it was really straight selling and that’s not my strong suit. I’m more of a program manager and a long-term relationship builder, versus the kind of order-taker they needed at Acme.”
You are going to find in your job search that there is a huge difference between the organizations and people you feel comfortable with and the ones you don’t. As you trust your body more to send you signals it will oblige. You will leave some workplaces and think “That place is fun. I could learn something there.” You will leave other places and think “There isn’t enough money in the world to get me to work there. Those people look like they’re in misery.”
Trust your body and trust the universe to get you into the right spot. For all intents and purposes in the 21st-century workplace, you get to decide whether you were fired or not. Maybe one day you will wear that distinction as a badge of honor, like I do. I’ve been fired two and a half times and those experiences helped to make me who am I today — whoever that is!
Getting fired is not bad for you. It might be the best thing that has ever happened for your career. When you get fired, you get shaken out of the stupor that most of us fall into all too easily. Whenever you grow new muscles, the universe and I will be here on the sidelines, cheering you on!