10 Do’s and Don’ts to get back on your feet after you’ve been fired

Whatever the reason for being fired, the effects can be devastating financially and emotionally.   Thinking about who has been fired and who has been rehired because they handled it well led me to write about 10 do’s and don’ts that can help you best handle your job search after you’ve been fired. 


I regularly exchange my opinions and learnings with other career and recruiting experts to find out if there are new key unemployment do’s and don’ts when you want to get back on the career track. There is always something new. With this in mind, review and apply some or all of the following tips and you could end up even happier than you were before.

# 1 Do: Keep a Regular Schedule 

Get a good dose of sleep (+/- eight hours); wake up early; exercise; take a shower; plan your day; and even try putting on smart casual attire or maybe even a business suit once in a while and go into the city to walk around, even if you aren’t there specifically for job seeking reasons. If you think this is weird – try it and come back to me on how it felt. You need to keep things as “normal” as possible during this tough time by staying busy and active. You don’t want to sit home and pity yourself. 

# 2 Don’t: Panic

The loss of a job is stressful, and it often makes us lose our clarity and focus on planning the next steps, but you don’t have to descend into an anxiety spiral. There are always options, and the key is to let yourself have the time and space to determine what those are.  You won’t be able to move forward without a clear head and an open mind. 

When first learning of the bad news, this can be as simple as taking the time to gather all of your useful contacts off of your computer, so that you can send a thoughtful exit email once you’ve processed the situation.  When I was made redundant, I spent the last hour in the office typing up a letter to HR stipulating why I deserved three months, instead of two weeks, of severance. The end result- an extra few thousand dollars in my emergency fund to help me survive while hunting for a new job. You might have an inclination that you are getting the boot, so do your homework and be as prepared as possible.

# 3 Do: Accept Your Situation

Avoid feelings of panic by stepping back and taking stock of your own feelings. Validate your right to feel miserable – you’re a human being. You have a right to feel unhappy. Once you’ve given your emotions space to exist, you can start to see the big picture more clearly, enabling you to act in ways that will help you and your job search. 

# 4 Don’t: Borrow Blindly From Your Savings or Superannuation Fund

When your cash flow begins to dry up, you may be tempted to turn to your super fund. But you should think twice before cashing out part of your super while unemployed. If you do, you could find yourself with the extra burden of taxes or penalty fees on the funds you withdrew. In general, breaking into your retirement savings early could erode 40-50% of the money you take out because of taxes and penalty fees.

Not to mention if you’re still unemployed when the tax bill comes around for your withdrawals, this could cause yet more problems. Bottom line? Unless these funds are the only thing standing between you and losing everything, try to hold off. After all, that’s what your Superannuation should be for. 

# 5 Do: Rethink Your Priorities

Once you’ve established a particular standard of living, it can be tough to adjust that downward, but it’s crucial to separate your wants from your needs and make the necessary changes to reflect your new financial reality. Particularly if you’re living off of your savings, you’ll need to think about where you can cut back so you don’t eat through your savings so quickly.

# 6 Don’t: Avoid Creditors

Personal pride is often the biggest handicap preventing job seekers from asking for help, especially if you’re feeling ashamed. I strongly suggest that you talk to your creditors right away to explain that you lost your job. Banks and creditors benefit more from “sustainable” customers than they do simply from the assets they collect. Creditors generally have a vested interest in making sure your life doesn’t spiral out of control, either. The more your lenders know about your circumstances, the more likely they’ll be to help you out.

Creditors might be willing to renegotiate your credit terms or freeze your repayments for 2 or 3 months.  It’s definitely worth looking into.   

# 7 Do: Review Your Health Insurance Situation

Losing your job often means losing your private health insurance. When you lose your job, you will want to stay on top of your options. One example could be this solution: if you can be covered under a spouse’s health insurance policy, arrange this as soon as possible. Otherwise, an online broker service could help you shop around for the best alternatives for your situation.  You may also be able to just lower your coverage to the bare minimum of what you think you’ll need until you are employed again.

Online services such as Meerkat are good if you’re clear about your exact needs and have reviewed the alternatives.  

# 8 Don’t: Bottle Up

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is not engaging with others when unemployed. The shame associated with job loss can scare people away from healthy and productive social interactions. But, bottling up only increases the negative pressure on an already stressful situation. Whether you participate in social networking, real-life networking in your industry, volunteering or some other social activity, the key is to get out there and engage. If you go out into the world instead of bottling up you will often discover a path or two to new ideas, opportunities and energy. I recently wrote about this subject in another blog post.

# 9 Do: Take a Balanced View of Your Situation

I know it sounds a bit strange but I recommend to all my clients to adopt a ‘mindful’ perspective during unemployment and to re-focus on the positive aspects of your life. That includes self-reflecting and being honest with yourself about potential causes behind your job loss.

It’s not healthy to beat yourself up because you got laid off. Getting laid off is dishearteningly common, and you don’t want to wreck your confidence over something that’s often completely out of your control. All the same, if you’ve lost a job more than once, it would be wise to think seriously about why that might be, or what common threads you can find between those experiences.

# 10 Don’t: Neglect Your Well-Being

Losing your job is one of the most difficult life experiences that you will go through.  But, ask yourself the question: How long do you want to stay stuck in that position of being angry and anxious?  There are a number of ways you can improve your mind, your spirit and also your physical wellbeing during periods of unemployment. Look after yourself and turn that period into an opportunity to re-shape and re-vitalise and start something new.

Remember, DON’T panic and DO as many of the smart things as you can manage, and when you are out there presenting yourself to potential employers remember to hunt wisely!