Termination of employment, being let go, parting ways, fired, getting the axe. These are all phrases and terms that are commonly used to describe your manager deciding that you will no longer be gainfully employed with their company. Even if you are the most even tempered person, your first reactions to being fired are most likely anger and confusion. These feelings are often accompanied by having your professional life flash before your eyes. Resume writing, interviews, professional successes and mistakes that you have made, all of which have led you to the situation you are in now. Unemployed. While the reasons that an employer can choose to terminate employment are vast, it is important to know how to put these feelings aside and recover quickly in order to avoid a large gap in your employment history regardless of the reason behind the termination.

Accept responsibility: There are very few cases of employees who have been let go without cause. You may feel that your manager is simply being unfair at the time of termination; however, as a professional who wants to move forward with their career, you need to reflect on what you could have adjusted. Accepting responsibility for your shortcomings and avoiding placing blame solely on the person who fired you will help you to recover and move forward in your career. Is it possible that you need to work on your communication skills or that you should have asked for help when you were in a position that you were not prepared for? By accepting responsibility you will be able to adjust your behavior so that you aren’t asked to leave your next job.

Learning opportunity: It can feel impossible to view being fired as anything close to a positive experience; however, you are in this position so you may as well make the most out of it and create a learning opportunity. If you are still unsure about the details of your termination, take a deep breath and ask. Ask what you could have done better and what areas you need to work on in the future. Although this may be the absolute last conversation you want to have, demonstrate that you are able to take a negative situation and turn it into a chance to improve professionally.

Resist seclusion: After packing up your desk, it can be very tempting to go home and stay there for months without any contact with the outside world. Don’t do this. Even though your pride and career have taken a hit, resist the urge to sulk in the embarrassment of being fired. In addition to getting out and actively looking for jobs, consider having lunch with an old friend or contact in a different industry that you are interested in. Maybe your last job wasn’t a good fit for you and a change of industry could be the key to your future success. At the very least, these meetings will get you out of your pajamas and give you an opportunity to talk about you career path with someone who may have some insights.

Make a plan: It is important that you don’t let too much time elapse before making a concrete plan to become employed once again. Schedule time to edit and update your resume, research booming industries in your area, apply for jobs and contact a recruiter who can help you to get back in the game. Once you have made a plan and scheduled times to work on finding employment opportunities, develop a strategy to avoid the distractions that often accompany unemployment. The best way to do this is to find a quiet area where you can concentrate on implementing your plan.

Prep an answer: Chances are that an interviewer will ask you about your past employment at some point during your interview. If you have recently been fired, this question can easily trip you up. Don’t let them see you panic. Instead, practice what you plan on saying and make sure that you address previous employment, what you have learned from your past experiences and what you would like to do in your career moving forward. Don’t dwell on being terminated or gossip about past employers. Show the interviewer that you are aware of your previous shortcomings but that you have learned from them and are ready to move on to the next phase of your professional life.


Having your employment terminated can be truly devastating and leave you feeling as though you will never recover. However, by changing the way that you handle the days and weeks after being let go, you can recover quickly and lessen the employment gap on your resume.