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I Just Got Fired: WTF Should I Do?!

i just got fired

If you just got fired, chances are you feeling a wide range of emotions, including shock, denial, sadness and anger. All of these emotions are perfectly normal.

The uncomfortable realization that you will soon be going without a paycheck is enough to stress out anyone! This is particularly true if you were canned during the holidays, which happens to be the time most employers pull out the proverbial axe! And if you are the family bread winner, your termination is doubly painful.

Right now you might feel like reaching for a stiff drink but I will level with you –that’s the absolute worst thing you can do!

Here is the deal. At this very moment in time you need to keep a level head so that you can make logical, smart and informed decisions … decisions that will greatly impact you and your family over the coming weeks and months.

Five Critical Things

What follows are 5 critical things you should do right now if you have been fired or think you are about to get canned.

This list does not represent a complete set of immediate tasks but it does cover the biggies. Think of the suggestions made here as a kind of: “I just got fired” survival guide for the next 24-72 hours!

Take some deep breaths. Count to 10 and then continue reading. Are you ready?

Let’s jump right in!

got fired
Credit: Autosport International

1. Negotiate for use of office space

Once your company has decided to terminate you, it does little good to try and argue with them over their rationale. Chances are everything has been cleared with Human Resources and perhaps even the CEO.

Rather than creating an uncomfortable situation for everyone, try to cash in on whatever sympathy your former employer has for your situation by gaining the use of office space. In other words, ask your manager if you can use a cubicle for the next week or two.

This will allow you to have free use of their phone and Internet. You might even be able to use their copy and fax machine. The goal here is to preserve financial resources anyway you can!

2. Don’t tell anyone except your family for 24-hours

More than likely, you are extremely upset right now and downright pissed. This is not the time where you want to be sharing you just got 86’d. Anything you say about your former employer at this point is going to come out angry – which is something you don’t want!

Be particularly mindful of comments related to your bosses and co-workers at this juncture. And for heaven’s sake, make sure you stay away from social media!

Hopefully after a 24-hour period, you will be in a calmer place and be able to speak about what happened from a place of calm. Remember, you are going to need as many quality references as you can (see next point).

3. Gather up references

It is easy to forget certain things when something massively shocking happens – like getting fired. With that shared, you need to know that a top priority on your “after termination” checklist is to gather up quality references!

You have every right to ask your former employer (aka: boss) if they can be included on your reference list. This is why it is SO important that you not badmouth anyone right now. You need to feel confident that the way your former employer describes you after you leave will be presented in the best possible light.

Once you have identified several key references, go ahead and make sure you have all of their contact information properly recorded. This means the person’s formal job title, e-mail address and phone.

Because you are in crisis right now, you may forget to capture these details. Keep pen and paper handy to jot information down quickly. Better yet, ask for their business card.

Tip: Get a reference letter from your ex-boss if possible. This will come in handy during your job search.

4. Inquire about severance pay and benefits

You may be tempted to simply walk out of the office after getting the boot but you need to keep a level head. Take a deep breath and if need be, excuse yourself to the bathroom if you feel overwhelmed.

When you come back, it is critical that you ask questions about severance pay, medical benefits, retirement plans and so forth. You are going to need all of this when you apply for unemployment!

Tip: It does not hurt at this time to ask your former employer if they have any contract work available. This may be a shot in the dark but it does communicate to the higher ups that you want to continue contributing to the organization.

Make it about them right now and not you (I know this is hard!). If you can snag even a month’s extra pay on a project, you are way better off! Remember, it is all about preservation of money right now.

5. Finding a new job is priority one

Many people who get fired think they will find something new quickly. The reality is that it can take up to 1-2 years to obtain a position with a comparable salary (with benefits).

After you give yourself a day or two to process what you are feeling, get back in the saddle and start looking for a job. You don’t have one minute to waste!

Tip: Read books and articles related to employment searches. You may also benefit from working with a job coach or career counselor. This person can act as a safe conduit for venting while also helping you to put things in perspective so you can find new work!

Summing Things Up

You were just fired. It sucks and it sucks hard. Let’s face it – getting canned is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person during their lifetime! The emotional and financial stress you may be feeling is probably intense.

Now would be a good time to crank up self-care and engage in mindfulness based activities. Depending upon your situation, you may even need to consider different ways of reinventing yourself.

I am going to recommend a basic, easy to understand book entitled, Job Seekers for Dummies. Inside you will find page after page filled with practical tips. Use these suggestions to help you create a set of “next steps” for life after getting fired.


Don’t forget that because you are now jobless, you are at a higher risk for depression. Make sure you engage in physical activities to help reduce feelings of anxiety and sadness.

Be sure to increase your circle of support and network the heck out of yourself. Having a daily routine can do wonders.

It’s no fun getting fired – truly. Hopefully the material shared here will help get you through the next little while.

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Photo Credits: Auto Sport International & Pinterest
I Just Got Fired: WTF Should I Do?!

John D. Moore, PhD

Described as folksy and down to earth, Dr. John Moore infuses current events and pop culture into his posts as a way of communicating wider points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsessionand Editor in Chief at: Guy Counseling.

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APA Reference
Moore, J. (2014). I Just Got Fired: WTF Should I Do?!. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Nov 2014
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