Sales and Marketing Training

What To Do When You’re Getting Fired (Or Laid Off)

Nothing is quite as embarrassing as the walk of shame carrying your box of personal goods out the door escorted by security, is there? I’ve been on both sides of the firing table in my career, and it’s not the ideal position that either the employee or the employer hopes to be in. Over the years, though, I’ve changed my perspective on these situations significantly.

Fifteen years ago, I quickly found myself in trouble after new leadership was brought into my company. My new executive didn’t buy into the digital marketing strategies I’d developed over the last year despite our revenue and profitability growing exponentially. It was the first time in my life I found myself in a position where my employer didn’t value my results. It was also the first time in my life that I was fired.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve founded a few startups and built a successful business helping other SaaS companies grow. None of the success I have today would have happened if I had not been fired 15 years ago. It was the best thing to happen to me, but it took me a long time to realize it. I made some mistakes along the way that I wanted to share:

  • Severance packages are negotiable. Companies often share their policy that dictates a couple of weeks of pay when you’re fired. However, there’s usually a lot more budget than you realize regarding your termination. Don’t be afraid to consult an attorney before accepting your severance, as they may find an issue with a wrongful termination that could get you and your ex-employer in court. Companies will often gladly pay a week or two of severance pay for each year you worked with the company.
  • Forget the negative; focus on the positive. Languishing in self-pity or anger about how you were treated isn’t help you get back on your feet. Regardless of how terrible your job may have been, you probably underwent some personal and professional development while you were there. You may have also expanded your network, built industry experience, or even received some formal training. Focus on those positives as you look forward to your next move.
  • Forget resume submissions and get off the couch. People rarely get the job of their dreams by submitting Word resumes with online submission sites. Take a shower, style your hair, trade your sweats for some nice khakis, and network. Leverage the newest people in your network to see if they can develop new opportunities for you.
  • “Why did you leave ________?” You know this is the question of the hour, so be prepared to respond positively to this negative question. It’s perfectly alright to state that it wasn’t a fit for you and you’re looking forward to the next opportunity. Again, focus on the positive. Like many employers, I won’t hire an employee who is negative and critical of their previous employer.
  • Get the raise you always wanted. The average employee who leaves a job typically gets paid 10 to 20% higher than their next employer. Granted, these are usually situations where the employee leaves voluntarily for the next opportunity, but it need not be in your case. If you’ve negotiated an excellent severance package, you may have some time on your hands to pursue the job of your dreams.

While the initial blow of your termination may feel like the worst thing to ever happen to you, it doesn’t have to be a step backward in your career. Quite the contrary, it may be the best opportunity you’ve ever had to pursue a job you’re inspired by, with a company that values you, and a paycheck that’s the best you’ve ever had.

For The Employer: Fire Quick

It’s never compassionate to carry an employee in your business who you don’t have faith in. On the contrary, keeping a disgruntled employee in a job, they’ll never succeed in is quite cruel. Provide your employees with everything they need to be successful. And if they’re not, fire them and provide them with a fair severance package so they can pursue a more successful career.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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