Sometimes an employment situation ends because of economic factors beyond anyone's control; but sometimes an employment situation ends because the job you hate also hates you back.
This piece is not about getting laid off or "downsized"--but about getting fired.
I was fired from a miserable job twenty-two years ago next month, on April 2, 1993. It turned out to be the best career move I ever made.
(As I've mentioned before, the workplace in my novel Termination Man is partially based on this long-ago job from hell.)
1.) Being fired from a bad job can be a good thing. If you react positively and proactively, you can turn a firing into an opportunity to find a much more satisfying employment situation. (This is what happened to me in 1993.)
2.) A lot more people are fired than you might think. This is especially true in certain professions (like sales, for instance).
3.) Don't think of the employment situation in paternalistic terms. You are an independent economic entity--just like your employer. The employment relationship is a business relationship, nothing more, nothing less. Your employer is not your spouse, government, parent, or religion.
Sometimes business relationships end. Employees often choose to end employment relationships when they are dissatisfied with their employer. When an employee rejects an organization by quitting, very few companies regard this as a deep existential crisis. They find a replacement employee and move on. Simple as that.
In the same way, you need not be ashamed if an employer ditches you because the organization (or one particular boss) decides that you are not a "good fit." Politely tell them to go pound salt; and move on.
Two exceptions are worth noting:
- To be fired by one employer can be a fluke, nothing more than a case of a "bad fit;" and the problem may indeed be a toxic organization. On the other hand, if you seem to be fired by every employer---the problem is likely you.
- A firing for unethical conduct (ex: stealing) is rightly a source of shame---and not something for which you should blame the organization that fired you.
4.) If you have been fired, you need not broadcast this fact during job interviews. This is your business. Is a prospective employer going to spill the dirt about every ex-employee that rejected them by getting another job? Are they going to air their dirty laundry in an interview? I think not.... Remember: A job interview is a sales presentation--not a confession, in which you must feel obligated to bare your soul.
To close out this topic, let me leave you with a quote from Craig Walker, hero of the novel Termination Man:
"I’ve always believed that a firing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person. Sometimes it prevents an individual who is stuck in a dead-end job from spending the next ten or twenty years in a situation that is counterproductive for everyone involved. When a person is fired, a third party makes the decision that the fired person should have made for himself."