What to Do When You Get Fired From Job: A Detailed Guide
One of the notable lows during the pandemic was that many people lost their jobs involuntarily. Finding yourself unemployed in uncertain times will take a toll on your financial stability and even your physical and mental health.  There can be many reasons you’re on the hot seat, with the worst-case scenario being let go by your employer. It’s important to be ready and know the actions to take if you ever find yourself in this situation. 

What is Employment Termination?

Termination of employment is when an employee’s services are no longer needed by their employer, causing them to leave the company after completing tenure. The termination may be voluntary on the part of the employee or a decision entrusted to the employer. Both parties can have multiple reasons as to why a termination needs to happen. 

Types of Employee Termination

There are different types of termination, and not all of them are decided solely by your supervisor. 


As its name suggests, voluntary termination is when an employee leaves a company willingly and doesn’t involve external pressure, such as from the employer. This is also the same as a resignation.  You can have several reasons to leave your place of employment, though most are influenced by personal interests or conflict. Examples include personal matters involving yourself or your family, wanting a career change, moving to a different company, or wanting to take time off for your mental well-being. 


Involuntary termination is when your employer decides they no longer want to avail of your services. This is more commonly known as firing employees.

Normally, you are fired by your employer if you have not shown signs of improvement or have underperformed throughout your stay. Additionally, when your position becomes redundant, or the business can no longer afford to pay you or its staff, the employer can dismiss you or your coworkers. Many think involuntary termination is associated with getting fired, but that isn’t always the case. Employees who have grown beyond their optimal age to work can be involuntarily terminated and forced to retire.

Employment at Will

When you’re in the category of an “at-will employee,” your employer can terminate you without prior notice, as long as the reason isn’t illegal. It may sound like a harsh arrangement, but many employers do note if the workers they’re hiring are employees at will, so you know what to expect during your tenure. 

Mutually Agreed

Termination by mutual agreement is when both employee and employer take the joint initiative of ending the employment relationship Out of the different types of termination, the mutually agreed upon one is unique because it is a bilateral transaction between two parties. Other types mainly stem from the decision-making of one entity, may it be the employer or the employee. 

Causes of Employment Termination

Before you find yourself fired and without a job, it’s important to understand why employers dismiss employees in the first place. While some instances can’t be helped, knowing the common reasons can allow you to assess your workplace performance and adjust accordingly.

Violation of company rules

When you are onboarded and sign an employment contract, you automatically agree to abide by company rules and regulations. When breached, you are subjected to disciplinary action or a harsh sanction.  Although one violation isn’t enough to dismiss, receiving multiple strikes throughout your stay can eventually get you fired. You may occasionally receive warnings for small things like being late, but larger violations like damaging company property can put you in hot water. 

Unsatisfactory performance

One of the common reasons your employer may let you go is that you’ve been underperforming in your tasks and deliverables. While it may seem like an employee issue, unsatisfactory performance can greatly threaten the company’s overall revenue generation. 

Additionally, the job description for your position is readily outlined in your job offer or contract, meaning the company rightly expects certain standards of quality from work. If they feel you aren’t or are no longer performing accordingly, they can fire you based on poor performance. 

Harassment of any kind

Every company wants to hone a safe working environment where its employees can freely express themselves without being judged or excluded. This increases productivity in the workspace and boosts employee morale.  As such, you can get fired if you’ve been guilty of harassment and negatively impacted other company members. Harassment doesn’t just mean using violence; it can also extend to misconduct involving someone’s race, sexual relations, or religion.  

Wrongful termination

Wrongful termination or dismissal is the discharge of an employee’s services based on terms that breach the employee’s contract or the conduct of employment itself.  While some companies have the right to fire their employees at will without giving them a reason, there is a reason for termination, but it should still be within what’s lawfully accepted. Illegal reasons include discrimination based on religion, gender, or race.


When you show obstructive behavior towards your superiors, this can also be grounds for termination. This is considered insubordination or the deliberate act of refusing to follow the orders of managers or leads. While you don’t always have to agree with your bosses, it’s your job to comply with their requests as an employee.


It’s understandable to take a leave from work because you fell ill or someone in your home needs some special care. Chronic leaves and absences, however, can eventually end up getting you fired for several reasons. For one thing, not showing up to your work or shift impacts the contribution you make to your team. If you don’t show up, operations slow down due to the lack of staffing. Consistently being absent also affects your team’s morale, as well as company revenue. 

What to Do When You Get Fired

When you get fired, it’s reasonable to feel a lot of emotions all at once. One is fear because suddenly, you no longer have a steady stream of income to rely on for your everyday needs. Another is probably shame because you got fired, which can affect how you see yourself and your self-worth as an employee.  It’s important to recognize these feelings, but the steps following your termination are ones you need to take seriously. 

1. Discuss with your immediate supervisor the details of your termination

It can be overwhelming following your immediate termination but sitting down with your superiors and asking for more information is a step toward closure. Don’t go in carrying your emotions, however, since you may say something that can make an already bad situation worse. Instead, take a minute to calm yourself down and approach the conversation with a level head. Ask everything, like the context of your termination, comments on your overall performance, and areas you can work on to improve.  Not only can this be a graceful exit for you, but the thoughts your employer can impart may benefit your next job opportunity!

2. Leave on good terms with the company

Following the discussion with your employer, it’s time to pack up and leave. At this point, you may still have bouts of overwhelming feelings towards your supervisors and coworkers, but it’s best not to let these come out so you don’t do or say something you’ll regret. Say your goodbyes and leave on good terms with the people you’ve worked with. This shows that there are no hard feelings, and you all remain friends. The people you leave behind, additionally, can also contribute to your social network, and they can offer to send work opportunities your way.

3. Create a checklist

Now that you suddenly no longer have a job, you must list your action plans, including all the important things to accommodate immediately following your termination. Action items after termination can help guide you through this limbo period and keep you afloat until you find a new place of work

4. Check if you qualify for unemployment benefits

One of the most important things you should do is see if you can avail of unemployment benefits.  If you were let go for poor performance or because the company is downsizing, you can qualify, but it still depends on the area you’re from. Conversely, you fail to qualify if you deliberately got yourself fired through acts like fraud or willful misconduct.  By applying for unemployment benefits immediately, you can replace some of the income you could have been earning until you find a new place of work. These are also meant to keep the unemployed afloat. 

5. Take time off to reflect

Now that you don’t have to spend most of your day working, you can take some time to reflect on recent events or take a mental health break. Doing so will allow you to recuperate emotionally and ready you for your next job venture. 

6. Update your resume

With a steady mind and newfound resolve, updating your resume should be your next step to secure yourself a new job quickly. You may not have updated it recently, so put in the skills, training, and other relevant information you’ve gained throughout your most recent employment.

7. Apply for new jobs

Looking for new jobs may be daunting initially, but it gets easier the more you put yourself out there. Consistently applying for jobs that interest you will eventually land you a new position. If there was something from your previous employment that you enjoyed, look for similar offerings from other job posts.

8. Consider wrongful termination and consult with a lawyer

You could file for wrongful termination if you were let go due to a reason considered unlawful, such as nationality, gender, religion, or age discrimination. Contact a lawyer to help with your cause. It would be helpful to be familiar with your rights as mandated by your contract and the law. 

One Door Closes, and Another Opens

Getting fired is quite common. While difficult in the beginning, knowing and doing key action steps after termination and focusing on your future are essential. Engage in legal action if necessary. From attorneys specializing in various forms of discrimination to wrongful termination lawyers, the team of industry experts from Shegerian & Associates can assist you by providing legal advice and action. Contact us now.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.