5 Things to Do If You Get Fired

I am old enough to remember the days of career civil servants when people worked in the same government office until retirement. Private corporations too had employees working for the same company their entire working life. When the employee finally retired, she/he was presented with the perfect retirement gift: a Black Mamba bicycle, a rocking chair, a pair of gumboots or a wheelbarrow; gifts that would come in handy once the employee relocated to upcountry as was the norm.

That was then. Today, restructuring, redundancies and layoffs are commonplace. One day you employed, the next day you get to the office or workplace to find you don’t have a job.

You have been laid off. They have fired you. They have let you go. They have restructured and declared your position redundant. In short, unga imemwagika.

Now, what?

Take a deep breath. Then breathe out slowly.

It may feel like it, but this is not the end of the world. It is already tomorrow in Australia or some other part of the world. The worst that could happen has happened. As someone once said, once you hit the rock bottom the worst that can happen rise up. Not to make light an otherwise serious situation, but it is important to remain calm. That will allow you to process what has happened and to start planning for your next steps.

  1. Letter of recommendation and referee – If the company was restructuring, it is not a reflection of your ability. You should not beat yourself about it. Sure, it is human to ask ‘why me’, but the truth is, it was going to be someone. Before you leave, ask if the company can give you a letter of recommendation. Request you immediate boss or supervisor if you could use them as a referee. Unless there is some real bad blood, most organizations and bosses are more than willing to recommend you. Of course, if you got the boot because your boss was a TJ (Total Jerk), you do not want them as a referee. Still, there may be other people in the organization, who may be willing to give you a reference.
  2. Do Not Burn Your Bridges – As far as possible, leave peacefully and in good terms with everyone. It will minimize your stress if you are not having to carry a grudge or to settle scores. Plus there is no telling where your paths with former colleagues will cross in future. As the Swahili saying goes, usitukane wakunga na uzazi ungalipo.
  3. Update Your Résumé, CV, Linkedin profiles – Chances are you have not looked at your résumé since your last job application. Think about skills and experience you have acquired which may not currently be reflected in the CV. Have you taken some training or certifications? There is no better time to update CV.
  4. Call on Your Networks – Contact people you know who are in the same profession and let them know that you are looking for a new position. There is no shame in this. Tons of people lose their jobs every day. Join LinkedIn groups that are in your field and connect with potential employers.
  5. Need to Adjust Living Standard? Again, no shame in it. True, financial prudence should not be prompted by loss of an income. But it is especially important to make adjustment if, like most of us, a job is the only means of an income. Public transport is cheaper than driving your own car. Groceries and household items can be significantly cheaper when purchased from one outlet as opposed to another.

Finally, it might be a good time to try a side hustle. You have the time for it. Plus it can bring in an income to sustain you in between jobs. I know someone who cooked chapatis and githeri and sold in the neighbourhood when she was between jobs! They sold like hot cakes! She never skipped her rent payment and other financial commitments. Are there side hustles with low overheads and startup capital that you can engage in? Go for it!

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