Being terminated is no picnic, but as you walk out the door, don't let your emotions cloud your judgment. Keep a cool head and get ready to take these five important steps before you move on with the next chapter of your life.
1. Consider the reasons behind your firing and get legal help if you think you've been on the receiving end of an act of discrimination.
Most hiring contracts are "at-will" arrangements, which means employers are free to fire you (and you're free to quit) at any time and for any reason. This also means that you may have been fired because you innocently crossed the wrong person or slurped your coffee too loudly. This can be frustrating and demoralizing (especially because you may never learn the real reason you were let go) but it's perfectly legal. The exception to this rule is a firing based on an act of gender, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination. If you think discrimination may have played a role in your dismissal, talk to a lawyer and find out if you have grounds for legal action.
2. Apply for unemployment compensation insurance befits through the employment bureau in your state.
You may be eligible for weekly unemployment insurance benefits that will be calculated as a percentage of your highest weekly salary during the last twelve months. There are a few cases in which you may not be eligible for these benefits, but you'll need to move quickly to find out where you stand. Ask the HR director of your company for guidance with this process, or simply visit the government website for your state.
3. Clarify how long your health insurance coverage will last, and determine what you'll do when this period expires.
Applying for COBRA health benefits can help you cover the cost of insurance between the expiration of your current policy and your adoption of a new policy (on your own or through your next employer). COBRA benefits usually extend for thirteen months and allow you to purchase basic coverage at a discounted rate through a government program. Determine your eligibility for COBRA and apply right away, since your company coverage will probably expire by the end of the month.
4. Make appointments with your doctor AND your dentist.
Even if you don't feel ill, get your annual check-up before your health benefits expire. And if you haven't seen the dentist in a while, make an appointment and go right away. You'll benefit from a regular cleaning, and since the health of your gums can have an impact on your overall quality of life, you should have them looked at before you face a period of financial and personal uncertainty.
5. Choose your words carefully when speaking to your friends, family, colleagues, and clients.
For the first week after you're let go, keep your words and social interactions discreet and guarded. A firing can generate strong feelings of anger, resentment, fear and self-pity, and it's usually a bad idea to act on feelings like these. For a little while, every word you say may be used against you in the court of public opinion, and the response your words draw can have a powerful impact on your future employment prospects, your confidence, your professional connections and your sense of self-worth. Let the wave of emotions pass, and until it does, frame your story carefully.
When You're Ready, Start Getting Your Career Back on Track.
While you attend to the practical issues that follow job loss, start thinking about what you'll do and where you'll head during the next stage of your professional journey. There's no need to rush any decisions just yet, but when the time comes, visit LiveCareer to plan your next move. We can offer the resume building tools, practice interviews and industry information you need to dust yourself off and get back onto the carousel as soon as possible.