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Leaving Gracefully After Being Fired

6 February 2001 - Your last five minutes in a job can be as crucial to your career as the first five minutes of the interview that got you there, according to Mary Mitchell, president of The Mitchell Organization, a Philadelphia-based training firm for business etiquette, protocol and interpersonal skills.

"Being let go, fired or laid off in this volatile job market can play havoc with your self-esteem," Mitchell advises. "The challenge is how to leave behind an overall positive impression. You need to cut your losses, protect your reputation and be ready to move on."

We quote Mary Mitchell's eight tips on how to salvage a bad situation:

1. File an unemployment claim immediately. It will give you a cushion as you regroup.

2. Get some psychological distance. Use the free time to restore balance to your thinking and behavior. Spend a day doing something that gives you a sense of satisfaction, something the job never allowed time for.

3. Time spent with children can be particularly restorative. If you don't have children, baby sit for a friend or help out in a community nursery.

Bibliography and

Fired, Down-Sized, or Laid-Off: What Your Employer Doesn't Want You to Know About How to Fight Back by Alan L. Sklover

Getting Fired: What to Do If You're Fired, Downsized, Laid Off, Restructured, Discharged, Terminated, or Forced to Resign by Steven Mitchell Sack

Job Rights & Survival Strategies: A Handbook for Terminated Employees Monique Rothschild (Editor)

4. Tell your former coworkers what happened, actually without whining, gossiping or name calling. Even if you were unfortunate to work for someone truly incompetent, the accuser always sounds more scurrilous than the accused.

5. Remind yourself that you're in good company. Don't let it paralyze you. Losing a job doesn't automatically result in discrimination by future employers (particularly in the current employment market), and it certainly doesn't mean you were inept.

6. Think of others. Is there anything you can do to help your team members make a smooth transition? If you were in a supervisory position, make sure to write positive letters of recommendation to leave behind for those who reported to you.

7. Write to the head of the company. Make sure a copy goes into your personal file (handy if someone calls for a recommendation later). The letter should state that although you're leaving, you respect the company, its vision mid its goals, and that you were pleased to be part of the team. What if you don't feel that way? Doesn't matter. The point is to leave without rancor.

8. Write to your allies who have helped you along the way. Thank them for their support. Doing so in writing creates a win-win situation by making the recipient feel special and important. Those attributes then will reflect on you and when job-hunting, who you know Makes all the difference.

"Most of all, know that you will get through this," Mitchell said. "Take it a step at a time. Breathe."

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