9 Ways to Clean Up Your Image After You’ve Been Fired

Photo (cc) by david_shankbone

Life is grand, work is great and then, before you know it, you’re handed a pink slip, which instantly turns your world upside down.

To make matters worse, you’ve been let go because of a violation of the company’s handbook.

Depending on the circumstances and whether you actually enjoyed working for the organization, you could suffer a major blow to your self-esteem. But there’s no need to spend months or even weeks wallowing in self-pity and feelings of hopelessness. In fact, it’s best to start planning your next move soon so your emotions won’t get the best of you.

You may have the option of submitting an appeal to the human resources department if you insist on returning and have adequate evidence to make your case. Otherwise, here are some tips to help you get over the hump and move forward with your job search:

1. Be honest

When a prospective employer finally pops the big question about why you left your last job, answer it in the most straightforward manner possible. Lying about your departure could potentially be found out, eliminating you from consideration for the job. Lying about being fired is not one of CNBC’s “acceptable job interview lies.” Come clean and explain what you’ve learned from the experience.

Also, you definitely want to avoid throwing the previous employer under the bus. No prospective employer will want to hear you bad-mouthing your former boss. You’ll create a very negative impression.

You may feel alone, but plenty of other good employees have been fired and went on to find perfectly acceptable jobs.

2. Accentuate the positive

Shift the focus by emphasizing the major contributions you made to the company and how you were an invaluable asset during your stay. Be as detailed as possible and quantify what you accomplished with numbers and statistics. For example, if you were employed as an account manager and helped implement policies that reduced the delinquency of payments by 12 percent, state this accomplishment in the interview.

Don’t forget to mention that you’ve been steadily improving your skills since your departure. Because you have, haven’t you?

3. Don’t ask, don’t tell

If you’re lucky enough to dodge the bullet, don’t voluntarily disclose information not requested in the interview.

However, you’ll want to be honest on the job application by disclosing accurate start and end dates or you risk losing the prospective employer’s trust. Lying on an application can also get you fired.

4. Carefully select references

If you were canned because of an ethical violation and not a mass layoff, it’s probably not a good idea to ask your former boss for a reference. However, you can approach others you worked with who will speak well of you.

Know that many companies, to avoid lawsuits, have policies that limit a former employer to confirming when you worked there and what your job was. In fact, the oldest trick in the book is listing the general number to the human resources department so when the prospective employer calls, the employment verification information will be stated without any extras.

But, in the absence of such a policy, there’s nothing to keep your former boss from saying you were fired and for what, as long as it’s truthful.

5. Participate in self-improvement activities

Whether it’s continuing education courses or webinars on workplace etiquette, you’ll definitely want to stay busy during the job search period and sharpen your skills. Even if you’re tempted to take a mental break, keep moving.

Don’t forget to update and polish your resume because it’s the primary tool you’ll be using, outside of networking, to get your foot in the door. If it’s been awhile since you last conducted a job search and need a little assistance, take a look at “12 Tips to Build a Resume That Will Get You Hired.”

6. Consider a therapist

While I’m no psychologist, I’m well aware that job loss can take a major emotional toll on a person. Therapy presents the optimal opportunity to vent to a well-trained stranger, learn to cope with stress and move on with your life. This is particularly important if depression has drained your momentum and you have no one else to confide in.

7. Volunteer

Is your job search taking much longer than expected? You can fill in the gaps on your resume by donating your time to a charitable organization whose cause is near and dear to your heart. And you never know who you’ll meet. You could end up working side by side on a community service project with your future employer.

8. Do an internship

Thinking of pursuing a career change? What better way to get your feet wet than an internship? Even if it’s unpaid, you’ll still have an opportunity to sharpen your existing skills and learn a few new ones.

If you become skilled enough at a particular task, try your hand at some freelancing work on the side to bring in a little extra cash. Plus, that’s another line item you can add to your resume.

Once the internship ends, you may be offered employment with the company or decide to pursue your side gig full time.

9. Practice self-reflection

With each job termination comes an important lesson and some time to reassess your situation and goals. In some instances, a job termination could be for the better and grant you the opportunity to travel down new roads. Perhaps, you’ve been dreaming of going back to school to earn a graduate degree or pursuing your passion as an entrepreneur?

If your finances are in order, here’s your chance to view your termination as a blessing in disguise and pursue your dreams.

By no means am I downplaying your situation, but it’s best to focus on the good that can come out of it. In other words, the world won’t end, and you’ll live another day to better yourself, seek employment at another company in your industry, or find your true calling.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
6 Types of People Who Can’t Count on Social Security
6 Types of People Who Can’t Count on Social Security

If you fall into one of these groups, don’t assume that you will receive benefits.

10 Foods That Can Keep for Years
10 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale
17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale

Real estate agents give these renovations low marks when it comes to helping sell homes.

5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income
5 Ways to Avoid Taxes on Social Security Income

Here’s how to minimize and delay the chunk that Uncle Sam claims.

7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Here’s why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.