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You Just Got Fired. Now What?

You Just Got Fired. Now What?

Denene Brox | HotJobs

Pick your battles

While it’s common to feel anger toward your former employer, taking legal action is viable only in certain cases.

Paul Lopez, an employment attorney with the firm Tripp Scott, says that he regularly receives calls from people seeking legal advice after being fired.

“A lot of people are fired simply because they didn’t get along with their boss, and you can’t sue a company because your boss was a jerk,” says Lopez.

However, there are circumstances that warrant legal action—such civil-rights violations.

“No one can be fired because of their sex, race, age, disability, or national origin,” says Lopez. “If there’s a manager who has a prejudice against someone in those protected classes and fires them—that’s actionable.”

Dennis Nason, CEO of Nason & Nason, an executive recruitment firm, adds, “If you’re thinking about suing your previous employer, unless you have a very strong case, it’s not going to get you anywhere. My advice is to move on.”

Start over

Once you’ve allowed some time to mend emotionally and have gotten over the anger of being fired, it’s time to set sail on a new course.

“Make a bad time a good opportunity,” says Nason. “Ask yourself if you were in the right position, or if you need to rethink your career.”

Career coach Ann Mehl suggests finding a coach or a friend to help you outline your past achievements and re-brand yourself in the job market.

“Stress what you learned from the past experience and frame your answers so that you let interviewers know that you see this new opportunity as a means to achieving your ultimate career objectives,” says Mehl.

When you go in for interviews, have a good grasp on the facts about why you were fired, advises Nason. When asked why you left your last job, your answer should be true, concise, and as positive as possible.

“Don’t lead your resume, cover letter, or interviews with bad news,” says Nason. “They’ll get around to asking why you left your last job. Tell the truth in a brief 10 to 20 seconds.”

The key in interviews to explaining why you got fired is to make it not about you, says Cohen. “Anything from ‘the new boss wanted to bring in his own team’ to ‘the entire department was downsized’ is better than admitting you lost your job due to your own performance.”

Remember that getting fired is never as horrible as it seems at first, especially if you use the time to pursue a chapter in your career.

This article was originally published on

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