How to respond to being terminated

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Being terminated is difficult, whether you are prepared for it or taken by surprise by it. It is important, however, that regardless of how it happens, you handle yourself and respond to it in an appropriate manner.

  • Manage your emotions: It can be tempting to express how you feel to your managers and your team but you should restrain from this. Take a second to process the situation, you can even excuse yourself for a few minutes to collect your emotions before returning to the workplace.
  • Get your story straight: Discuss with your company how you want the termination to be represented. When you apply for your next job and plan to give your old job as a reference, you should have the same explanation for the termination. It might be hard to bring this up, but ensuring that you and your company are on the same page will reduce the effect your termination has on future career options.
  • Inquire what sort of assistance they can provide finding a new role: You should ask if you are eligible for career coaching or any other support that the company can provide you. To avoid complications down the track, ask for this information in writing.
  • Applying for other internal positions: Depending on why you were terminated (e.g. company restructuring vs. performance issues), you can ask whether there are other positions available in the company that you could apply for.
  • Ask about the details: Ask about the severance package, when your final paycheck will be coming, about unused sick leaves or any other details specific to your role that you need to talk about with your company. You should also ask about what the company’s expectations are in terms of transitioning or how much longer you will be working for.

Take your time to let the situation sink in and respond appropriately. There is no point in rushing yourself through this and reacting in a way that can hurt your future career.

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