How to cope with losing your job

‘Getting fired is nature’s way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place’ – Hal Lancaster, reporter. Gwen Cheeseman helps you move on

Keep calm – when you receive the news that your company is letting you go, the worst thing you can do is react badly. Be dignified – as hard as it is, if you want to scream and shout, wait until you get home. If you are finding it particularly hard to bite your tongue, get out of the building and take 10 minutes to clear your head.

Accept the situation – once the decision has been made to let you go, there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t waste your time trying to convince your employer that they’ve made a mistake. And even if you know that it’s a huge injustice, don’t be tempted to try and get revenge. If you’ve been made redundant due to financial issues, it’s always possible that the company may consider re-hiring you once they’re back on their feet. And if you decide to take them to an employment tribunal, any attempt you make to get back at them will reflect badly on your case.

Leave quietly – if you are asked to leave immediately after you’ve been told the news it can be difficult. Go to your desk and clear away anything that’s yours. Don’t be tempted to take anything that belongs to the company, it isn’t worth it, and if you get caught it will be very embarrassing. Before you log out of your computer, delete all non-work e-mails unless you are happy for other people to read them. If you want to say goodbye to colleagues, do so quietly as you leave. You should try and leave the premises with the minimum of fuss.

Your decision – it may be that your employers would like you to stay on and work a notice period, which could be anything from a few days to a month. If you would rather leave immediately, try suggesting it. Stay calm and reasonable throughout these discussions, but don’t be afraid to negotiate. Some firms will agree to pay you off, which means you can leave immediately.

Use time well – if you do decide to work your notice, make the most of it. Make sure all loose ends are tied up with your work, and if you’re feeling particularly charitable, you can organise a set of handover notes. You may have some colleagues who could provide you with future networking or job opportunities. Make sure you tie up any loose ends with them before you leave.

Have your say – you can also request a leaving interview. Here, you can meet with your human resources department, or your boss, and ask for constructive feedback on why you have been asked to leave. If the opportunity arises, you may get the chance to discuss what you think went wrong. This can be cathartic but it is not an opportunity for you to rant. Stay calm and professional at all times.

"Stay calm and reasonable throughout any discussions, but don’t be afraid to negotiate"

"Make sure all loose ends are tied up with your work, and if you’re feeling particularly charitable, you can organise a set of handover notes"