I'm About To Be Fired...What Should I Do?

So you suspect your time at work might be coming to a premature end. It could be impending layoffs, a cryptic warning, or perhaps the result of one too many “documented” problems. Whatever the case, what should you do if you suspect a pink slip is in your immediate future? And I am not talking about how to cope or plotting weird revenge fantasies. I mean practical yet ethical steps to prepare for the inevitable.

First things first. I suggest backing up your address book so you can remain in contact with co-workers and your extended professional network. This can greatly aid in your search for another job. Gather copies of performance reviews, awards, citations, and letters of commendation. If there's a plaque in the break room from when you were Employee of the Year, take a picture of it for future reference. These “trophies” can disappear overnight when it is time for you to be let go.

Secondly, take a moment to consider what will happen “after” you have been shown the door. What information would you need to update your resume or fill out a job application? Use this opportunity to note factual details about your current job duties including performance statistics and milestones achieved. While you are at it, save a copy of anything you would need to file for unemployment benefits.

The third step is to assess any pending payments or other benefits. This means noting your accumulated vacation time or sick leave. Make copies of recent expense reports and document all commissions you are due. Also, review your retirement accounts and health insurance policies to make sure you have up-to-date information concerning what happens if you change employers.

Finally, prepare for your departure by removing some personal effects from your workspace. There's no need to take down your decorations, but it might make sense to remove extra clothes or your emergency supply of snacks. Also, consider any computers or phones that are the property of your present employer. It might be a good idea to move personal files to a flash drive, uninstall any non-standard software/apps, and delete other personal (non-work) information.

Getting “let go” is never easy. But if it happens, the process moves quickly and you will not have time to gather all of the things you might want to take with you. Even if you are in no danger of being laid off, it is still a good idea to “tidy up” every few months and make sure your affairs are in order.

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