How do you bounce back after being fired?

So, you’ve been fired from your job you’ve had for over a decade. Not laid off–fired.

You were fired for what was perceived (incorrectly) by a new manager as failure to do your job correctly. You know that it’s bullshit (and so does everyone else but the new manager doing the firing–and they say so to him and many other people) but it is what it is.

How do you recover your self-confidence again to get back out there? This job is all you know–it’s all you’ve ever really done and aforementioned manager’s opinion to the contrary, you were good at it.

The very thought of putting yourself out there and possibly failing again is making you physically sick. Your self-esteem is nil. How do you project the necessary confidence it will take to convince a prospective employer that you can do the job when you are terrified that maybe you really can’t? Maybe you were only good at what you did before because you were used to it? What if you can’t learn anything new?

Complicating the matter: The only jobs available to you with your educational background, in this economy and in your area pay way below what you previously made and they don’t offer benefits or room for advancement. Your previous job didn’t pay exceptionally well but it had full benefits and it was still more than is typically available for non-college-degree-holding people starting out in a position. Your unemployment is scheduled to end next month and you have to have a job before then.

I wouldn’t worry about the being fired part. It happens unfairly to lots of people and we don’t know the details. You need to be in disaster recovery mode however. Any job is better than none at this point. Learn what you can from the previous incident but don’t dwell on it. Also, abandon whatever ethics system you have been taught and lie (spin) if you need to in order to get a new job. An employer is hiring you for your skills and not what happened in the past. If you were there that long, you should have references other than the boss that fired you. Use those and don’t mention the firing. Make up another reason for it. Your new job won’t find out unless you live in a small area and so what if they do? You won’t be any worse off.

I have been lying about the reason for the firing–on advice from my former HR manager who was opposed to the firing as well. She told me to lie because they do not release any info but dates of employment to anyone.

Try not to take it too personally. Sometimes managers are dicks and they don’t know what they’re doing. This is especially true when a new manager comes in - they often want to come in all guns blazing and stir the place up a bit - which sometimes includes firings, often for little reason.

Spending months looking for the right fit for you in the next job, while not being unemployed is just going to allow you to dwell on it all, and further reduce your self-esteem. Get out and find a job, preferably one that allows to at least some time to keep looking for the next perfect job for you. Good luck!

Part of the problem with taking a job is that most of the jobs pay less than my unemployment.

Well, that’s a consideration too. So if you’re not too down in the dumps and you have family/S.O. emotional support, then you can wait it out and see what happens.

BUT, it’s a lot easier to handle any kind of rejection, non-call backs etc. when you are already employed. From a psychological point of view, it’s easier to write and send out a letter when you can say to yourself, fuck you if you don’t want me, I already have a job. :smiley:

Very true.


Get a job. I have been fired three times. Only once was it remotely my fault (I was a bitch to someone) but each time I just went and got a job as fast as possible doing just about anything. I always said I was “laid off”. I live in LA and much of this happened during the time when the aerospace industry was shrinking away, and many of my jobs were on the fringes of that so laid off was believable. I always got some sort of job within a few weeks.

Once I was fired for being female (that was in automotive and the guy told three different people that no woman was going to work in HIS service drive, so…) and I went to the EEOC and was awarded my salary for as long as it took me to get another job. It was very very tempting to milk that one, but I didn’t. I think it’s much better for your psyche to be working. And, I think you have to do it quickly, so you don’t sit around being afraid it will happen again. Yeah, it might. But like falling off a horse, you know, get right back on.

I’ve told the story before of how I took a job at a small business that paid me 20% more than a previous employer for business development. I was hugely successful at this job, but following a string of losses for new additional work (keeping in mind I had already paid for my salary many times over at that point and gained the company three major new contracts) and a disagreement on a major proposal, I was on a black list.

My boss, the CEO, lowered my salary 25%, then told me I was on a bonus program that was unachievable to reach the salary I had before. He then dictated what items qualified for the bonus and made it a hostile work environment as he had done for other employees he didn’t like. I eventually quit and took a job somewhere else that paid more than there, but less then I was originally making. My self esteem, however, was destroyed by this man. Meanwhile, it was a good thing I left because the CEO went ape shit about two months later and fired about 10% of the company - everyone who had ever ‘wronged’ him, and I guarantee you I would have been in that bunch.

I’m doing great at the new job, but admit I fear with every new business proposal we don’t win the new boss may flip out, which I never feared before. If someone comes up with a ‘self esteem restorer’ solution, please let me know as well.

This is so true. This happened where my brother-in-law had been working for over 20 years. Dick boss wanted to replace everyone with his drinking buddies, and pinned some dubious crap on BIL. Life was really rough for him (and by extension, my sister and nieces) for a couple of years. Finally dick boss was found out to be the dick that he was, was fired, and BIL was hired back – with a promotion, I believe.

Nice ending to that story, tdn. :slight_smile:

I totally understand how you feel. The crappy boss/business owner was also at my first job out of school. I was ready to quit the industry and find something else to do out of fear every company was like that. But I told myself I had to try one more place to make sure it was the work I didn’t like and not just one particular crappy employer.

Doing very well in the second job! The sheer amount of respect and trust my new boss/business owner has for me is awesome. He takes my advice on things, gives me difficult projects but trusts me to get it done (and doesn’t get angry if it is truly beyond my abilities). I don’t even remember what the convo was, but it ended with a joke about me getting fired, but then he turned completely serious and told me ‘You aren’t going anywhere! We like you here.’

It took a long time for me to realize I was somewhere that was good and that they wanted me there. Now, I know that my boss has my back.

I would fire this person too.

What you had before was a comfortable routine, and that is dogging your confidence more than being fired. What you have now is an opportunity to learn and grow and expand your abilities so this doesn’t happen to you again.

Find something that you won’t get stuck doing for the next decade only to find yourself having this conversation again when it ends.

Are you by chance over 50 years old and in the US? Due to US anti-discrimination laws, companies (really managers) often drum up cause to terminate someone over 50 to avoid age discrimination lawsuits. I’ve seen it happen.

In any case, the HR manager gave you good advice. Officially, nearly all companies will only confirm dates of employment and, possibly, title. Come up with a reasonable story about why you left that makes you look good and – this is really important – doesn’t say anything bad about your previous employer. No one wants to hire a complainer. Keep your story very short – two or three sentences at most.

Practice telling the story to friends and relatives so you get smooth at it. Finally, tell it to all your friends at your old place of employment so they can repeat it if asked. When the topic comes up during an interview, give your brief explanation. It will probably never be brought up again.

Good luck!

Good point and well taken.

Sadly, no–under 40.

I have my story and everyone knows the story being told so no issues there. It’s not even really a lie–they didn’t replace my position, they divided up the duties to other people (which makes sense considering that three years ago, they combined my original job with that of another employee’s full time position, eliminating hers and making my job handling the duties of both.)

I’ve been fired twice. Never had to lie about it, amazingly it just never came up.

By all means spend most of your time looking for a job, but I also recommend you do something you always wanted to do but never had time for…learn to play the guitar or some such. Make lemonade in other words. If getting fired seems like the end of the world, then maybe you need to expand your world.

Why would getting fired, as opposed to laid off, mean compulsorily having to change careers?

As for the rest, I’ve been fired (always for causes crapola enough that I got unemployment anyway, so same as you although I never worked anywhere for that long) and basically what I did was shake the dust off my sandals, update my resume and go “ok, next!” I’m busy living, don’t have time to be down (or rather, having had to take care of both of my parents and my brothers when said parents had externally-triggered depression, I recognize its initial symptoms and have so far been able to avoid it; in my case, the symptoms end when I realize what’s going on and get angry about it - I refuse to be down just because some fucker decided he was gonna give it to me up the ass and without lube, it would be like letting him win).

Ah, yes, there I have been. But you deal with it the same way whether you’ve been fired or laid out… keep on trying, get help wherever you can, look at other options, etc.

Some industries locally are very small in nature, you pretty much know the competition and they know you. Get canned for something and its known within weeks at most.


Yeah but they also know why, and sometimes the conclusion is “what a dick; well, happy you’re free, please sign here” (happened to both of my brothers; Middlebro even got someone else telling him “damn, if I’d known you were free I would have snatched you” after he’d gotten the new job - he now works for this someoneelse).