Moving Forward After Losing Your Job

Lessons from Successful People on Being Fired

You’ve just been laid off or fired. Now what? There’s no doubt that this can be a trying time personally and financially. If you’re experiencing an employment disruption, here are a few

Steps to take to turn the situation into a positive.

Stabilize Your Finances:

If you are eligible, collect unemployment. You’ve paid into the fund for many years, so get your money! Take what you’re owed to help your financial stability while you make your next move. Even if you plan to search for new employment right away, interviewing and applying takes time, and unemployment funds can help afford you the time to make the right decision about your future.

Think about creative ways to put a band-aid on your finances, like credit card points, gift card balances, and more. While one of these solutions alone won’t erase the change in your income change, every little bit helps to make you more financially independent and stable. Cut back on extra expenses, like streaming services or cable, until you get back on your feet. Your favorite show to binge-watch will still be waiting for you when your finances are stable.

Don’t dip into your retirement savings if you can avoid it. Especially if you’re far from retirement age, it might be tempting to use that pile of money you’ve accumulated. Your retirement account is an investment in your future, and often, fees and penalties for early withdrawal aren’t worth the short-term help.

Build Your Portfolio:

Updating your resume was likely the first thing on your mind, but in many industries, portfolios are just as important. If you can show your work, rather than just tell an interviewer about it, you have a much better chance of getting your foot in the door.

Take an audit of all the projects you’ve worked on during your tenure, and think of ways to use these to build your portfolio. A fantastic way to showcase your professional accomplishments is by building a personal website.

These are cost-effective solutions to take your applications to the next level. The best part is that there are tons of templates and services that make the web design process easier and optimized for several different devices. You don’t have to be a web designer yourself to make something beautiful and functional.

Clean up your social media accounts and enhance them with testimonials and projects. Ask your peers for recommendations or endorsements on LinkedIn. While it can be awkward or clunky to ask, you will get value out of those recommendations as you look for your next step. People empathize with the job search hassle, and likely, they’ll be willing to lend you a hand with positive reviews of your work.

Pursue Passion Projects:

If your skillset lends itself to contract work, freelancing, or part-time employment, use this situation as an opportunity to try something new. You can quickly turn a setback into an opportunity to pursue a side project and build up valuable portfolio work.

Maybe you have a passion for a sport or activity and want to teach part-time to help make ends meet. There are tons of ways to make money, so keep your options open. You don’t have to find something exactly like your old gig. There might be something better around the corner that helps you grow personally and professionally.

Take a Step Back:

It can be tempting to throw yourself back into something to an activity or job to stay busy. But for the first time in a long time, you have the free time to invest in yourself. Take it easy for a couple of days or weeks to clear your head. Your future self will thank you for the refresh, so you can tackle your next opportunity head-on.

Money may be tight, take this opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted, even if it’s something small like trying a new coffee shop down the street. If you’ve been putting off getting in shape, taking a road trip, or learning a new skill, this is your time! Make a bucket list, and give yourself the freedom to get yourself into the right mindset.

Make a Leap:

Use this as a time to take a chance. It might be the perfect opportunity to go back to school, move to a new city, or pursue the career you’ve always wanted. While your life has already been shaken up, use the transition time to make other life changes you may have been too comfortable to make before.

Stay Positive:

This new phase of your life may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Your confidence might have taken a hit. Remember everything you’ve accomplished in your career and everything you’ve learned. Undoubtedly, you’ve come a long way since you entered the workforce.

Make an honest list of what you enjoy about your previous workplace and what didn’t work for you. Then, find a direction or employer that will make you happier in the long run. Maybe your previous job was inflexible or your workload was unrealistic, but you also loved your coworkers and the company culture. Use your list to push yourself towards a healthier environment in your next opportunity.

Think about what to say if you’re asked why you were let go. Often, this question will come up in job interviews. Practice your answer with a trusted confidant or run throughout loud by yourself.

Having the details worked out before you walk into an interview will make you feel more confident when the question arises. Find a way to spin the experience into a positive one. If you’re having trouble, take a look at these successful people who have experienced being fired to see what they learned from the experience.

8 Lessons from Successful People on Being Fired – Infographic

Lessons from Successful People on Being Fired - Infographic
Lessons from Successful People on Being Fired – Infographic

Infographic – Transcript

Lessons from Successful People on Being Fired

Steve Jobs

Co-Founder of Apple & Former CEO of Apple

“Don’t dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

After a failed boardroom coup, he was fired from Apple, the company he co-founded. He later returned as CEO after his company NeXT was acquired by Apple.

Jenji Kohan

TV Writer and Producer

“There’s more to us than the moment we made a bad decision.”

After being fired from her writing job on the popular sitcom, Friends, she went on to create wildly successful shows like Weeds and Orange Is the New Black.

Mark Cuban

American Businessman & Investor on Shark Tank

“I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t fail a lot. The good, the bad, it’s all part of the success equation.”

Before selling profitable companies and appearing on Shark Tank, he was fired from a sales job for taking a client meeting instead of showing up for work.

Sallie Krawcheck

CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest

“If you haven’t had a major fail in your career – face-plant level – you aren’t trying hard enough.”

Getting fired from her position as CEO of Merrill Lynch sparked her entrepreneurial spirit, and she later created Ellevest a women-centric investment firm.

Jerry Seinfeld

Stand-up Comedian, Actor, Co-creator of Seinfeld

“Keep your head up in failure and your head down in success.”

After being fired from the sitcom Benson after only three episodes, he performed at comedy clubs until finding success in creating his own show, Seinfeld.


Singer, Songwriter

“We all fall to the floor at some point. It’s how you pick yourself up that’s the real challenge. Isn’t it?”

Before becoming the “Queen of Pop” we know and sing along to today, she was fired from Dunkin’ Donuts after squirting jelly filling all over a customer.

Lee Lacocca

Former Chrysler Chairman

“It’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.”

Henry Ford fired him as president of Ford saying, “sometimes you just don’t like somebody.” He spent the rest of his career as an executive at Chrysler.

Sophia Amoruso

Former CEO of Nasty Gal, Founder of Girlboss Media

“There is no way around it, and it doesn’t matter which side of the desk you’re on: Getting fired straight-up sucks.”

She was fired from several odd jobs, including a luxury shoe store, before creating a name for herself as the founder of Nasty Gal and later Girlboss Media.

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