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Marble Jar Gang Career Counseling: You are Fired

The basic premise or formula is to recognize that when your skills + traits + behaviors are placed in the right environment the outcome will give you a greater chance of success and happiness in your work.

Well, it is unlikely someone will say it exactly that way, but the action is the same. You no longer have a job. Even if you suspected this could happen it is still emotionally difficult and can lead to a rough time in your life. The facts are that you may never know the real reason you were terminated, you may have no notice, no severance and no ability to appeal. Our suggestion is to just move on, as cold as it sounds it is meant with all respect. Before you can get through the next hours and days, keep these details in mind because your actions can have consequences.

Potentially there is a difference for you if you are fired for cause or laid-off due to a company (budget or restructuring) issue. The latter could mean a re-hire once the ‘problems’ are worked out. Each of these situations call for a different and measured response. We will not be discussing union protection, unemployment benefits, severance agreements, contracted employment or discrimination, as we do not pretend to have legal knowledge in these areas.

If you are asked to leave that day then clean out your desk of personal items and only take what property is yours. What is on your company computer is not your property. Many people use their company property for personal use and you may ask for the opportunity to retrieve your personal information off of the computer. The best practice is keep personal and company information separate, so you are not in this situation.

Ask about unused vacation or sick day compensation and when you can expect to receive your last paycheck. Ask for any company rules on the 401k and the continuance of your health coverage. Keep the conversation civil. Do not lash out, assign blame, threaten actions you may regret or take parting shots at others. Your last impression should be that of a professional, your head held high and set as positive tone as can be expected in the situation. The person you are looking at may be your next reference check.

Ask if there will be an exit interview and when you can expect to hear more details on when this will take place and with whom.

Note that most companies do not do exit interviews for involuntary termination as they are primarily used to gain information as to why someone is leaving on their own. Just remember that anything you say can and will come back to bite you.

For a deeper dive we suggest you read this:

You may receive a termination letter and you may be asked to sign for the receipt of the letter which is based on your state statutes. Your homework is to look at your employment laws on this topic and check out employee rights when being terminated against their will. You should know this in advance and share it with others who may need a legal resource. Get a marble in your jar and another for everyone with whom you share the information.

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