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Leaving a Job or being Fired

We talk a lot on this site about how to find a job, as it is essentially a jobseeking website. However, for this month, let’s change the pace a little. There are times when you have a job, and you simply want to leave it. There are other times when you like working at a certain place and you’re made redundant. When people think about someone being fired, it’s logical to assume that the worker did something wrong. However, in today’s work environment, where casual contracts are the norm, being ‘fired’ is usually for reasons such as company budget or ‘last in, first out’. 

So, instead of discussing the jobseeking process as we often do, this post will examine two major ideas: how to leave a job without negative ramifications, and how to deal with being laid off or fired: 

How to Leave a Job the Right Way

So, you’ve been hunting for jobs for a while and you found one that you would love. After submitting your application, you’re ecstatic to receive a call to interview. You begin to imagine what you’ll do with the extra salary you’ll be getting: maybe you’ll have a yearly holiday or finance a new car. There’s just one little teeny tiny problem — you haven’t left your old job. So, how do you go about leaving a job in a polite way that will ensure you can get a good reference? Here’s a step by step guide: 

Give the Required Notice

There’s nothing more frustrating for an employer than employees who simply leave without any notice. This leaves the company in a mess until a new staff member is retrained. In order to leave a job the right way, dig out your company contract before applying for new jobs so you can make sure you give sufficient notice when you find a new one. 

Be Humble

After giving in your notice, don’t go around boasting about the bigger salary or better benefits of your new job. It is insulting to your colleagues to do so. When discussing the new job, just pretend that you’re leaving your current one for practical reasons. You might be staying in touch with some colleagues you’ve formed bonds with, so the last thing you want to do is make them feel like their career is a dud. 

Tie Up Loose Ends

If you work in any kind of company which involves specific projects for individual workers, make sure you finish whatever you’re doing. It’s so much more difficult for someone else to take up your work than for you to simply finish it. If the time you have left makes it impossible to complete your ongoing projects, at least leave detailed instructions for the next person. 

Offer to Help with Transitioning

This is just a polite thing to do, really. The biggest pain for employers is staff turnaround: always having to train new people. It is time consuming and expensive, and there is always the annoying factor that the person you just finished training will leave in a few weeks or months. In order to leave your job and make a good impression on your boss, offer to help train another staff member to do the task you do. It’s not uncommon for staff to have specific tasks which they specialize in, so aiding in the transition will help the company recover from staff changes more smoothly. 

Follow the steps provided above and you will gain a reputation as a considerate and professional colleague. Just because you’re leaving the company doesn’t mean you’ll never encounter these people again. In your career and in life in general it’s always best to be thoughtful.

Now that you know how to leave a job the right way, you might be thinking the tips simply aren’t relevant to your current situation. If you don’t have a job, or were recently laid off from one, this next section will likely spark your interest: 

How to Handle Being Fired

The word ‘fired’ has such negative connotations. You imagine a situation with a screaming boss, red-faced and steamy-eared, and a sheepish employee, embarrassed for being caught stealing or something else sinister. 

The reality is, people who are fired can be fired for any number of reasons. Let me share a story from my personal experience with you: 

I was around nineteen years old, studying at university. I needed to work to help pay for my fees and utilities and so on. I got a job in one of those cool greasy spoon cafes, the kind that serve fried mushrooms with sausage and the like. I spent literally one day at this job. One day.

‘Wow, what did you do? Did you curse at the boss? Did you throw a plate at a customer?’

Nope. I talked to my colleague. That’s it. Let me go into the specifics:

So I was working away, and this was my first day, so I wanted to be friendly to the other staff. It’s always nice to get along well with the people you have to work with. I was making coffee for an order and the girl beside me started chatting. The usual first day stuff, like ‘oh, you’re new, what’s your name? I’m (can’t remember her name)’…etc. Take note: we were both working as we talked. We were preparing drinks for orders and waiting on the food from the kitchen. The boss looked over and gave me a strange look. Then he warned us about talking while on the job. I blushed, apologized, and that was that. I went on with my work. 

At the end of the day, he gave me my money (it was a cash in hand job) and said ‘don’t come back’. I went back to my house in tears. I really needed this job. I remember ringing my dad crying and telling him what happened. It was the first time I had ever been fired in my life, and I couldn’t understand why. 

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Have you ever been fired and don’t understand why? Were you a seasonal worker and they didn’t keep you on? If this is you, I feel your pain. 

Being fired when you tried your best knocks you for six. I remember feeling like there was something wrong with me, something about my personality that just didn’t click with people. If this is you, I’m here to help. This is how you handle being fired: 

Realize It’s Not You

Sometimes there is simply not enough money to keep staff on. If you’re one of the newest staff, it doesn’t even matter if you work harder than someone else. It can be frustrating when people who have been there longer stand around and pretend to work while you do the really annoying jobs. It is even more annoying when you’re the one who is let go after the busy season. All you need to know is: the hiring manager doesn’t always see everything that goes on. Not only this, but every employer has their favorites. I remember a girl being kept on at a job simply because her dad played golf with the owner. This is life. Life is hard. Remember this one thing, and you’ll be picking yourself up in no time. Good luck with your next job — you’ll get it in no time after reading our useful jobseeking tips. 

by Gillian Rixey
(Gillian is a PhD qualified freelance writer and scholar born in Ireland but currently residing in the United States.)