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Getting fired from a job can feel devastating in the moment, especially if you didn’t suspect a termination was coming. But companies fire employees all the time and for a variety of reasons. Some of the most successful business professionals all share similar stories of how they, too, had once been let go from a job. If you find yourself facing termination or expect to be fired, it’s important to stay focused, believe in yourself, and recognize three instantaneous changes. To help you navigate your situation, we’ll cover three critical next steps you need to take to help you recover if or when you get fired.

Your To-Do List Before Leaving

You may be hanging your head as you leave the Human Resources office with a termination document. But before you leave the building, there are a few things you’ll want to do. If you’ve been fired and already at home wondering what to do next, it may be worth making a few calls to your former employer to take care of loose ends.

Asking the Right Questions
You may know why the company is letting you go but consider asking for specific details in writing. Understanding your areas of improvement will only help you perform better in a future job. It can also help you determine the precise language to explain to new potential employers why you’re looking for work. Getting details in writing can be helpful to ensure your employee rights aren’t being violated in any way, as well. If you’re being terminated for reasons other than performance, consider asking for a letter of recommendation. You can also inquire about other positions open within the company for which you might be qualified.

Negotiating Termination Terms
Depending on the nature of your termination, you might have an opportunity to negotiate your terms. For example, severance packages or continuation of insurance benefits can be points of discussion. You’ll want to understand the restrictions you may be bound by in any non-disclosure or non-compete agreements, as well. What’s most critical about negotiating your termination, including departure date and payout of any unused vacation time, is to make sure you don’t sign anything first.

Gathering Your Office Documentation
Before you leave for your last day on the job, ask to see or have any employee personnel file documents. Having access to your past performance reviews or proof of no previous disciplinary action can be helpful in future job interviews. You’ll also want to know precise information regarding any unused benefits or paid time off you may have remaining. While most terminations may be conducted professionally and within the company’s legal rights to do so, facing a wrongful termination situation without your documentation will be difficult.

You’re Out of a Job

When you get fired, you’re facing life without a paycheck. Despite your emotional reaction to termination, it’s important to remain calm and think through how you can recover. Maybe you can use this time to realign your career objective to a more rewarding job.

File for Unemployment
Before you land a new job, you’ll still have rent and expenses to pay. If you qualify for unemployment benefits, it’s essential you immediately make the call and pursue those next steps. Some states are more empathetic to employees than others, including in cases of getting fired. You may have to follow up with a determination phone call with your former employer and an unemployment officer. But once you’re approved, you’ll at least have some funds coming in while you begin your search for a new position.

Start Posting Your Resume
Hiring experts suggest when you get fired, your new full-time job is finding a new position. In other words, dedicate an eight-hour workday, every day, to sending your resume, applying for positions, and connecting with hiring managers. You can use the various job boards to post your resume for free, including Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. Don’t be afraid to inquire with companies in your market that may not have job postings available. Growing organizations will always be on the lookout for new talent and may invite you in to interview.

Look for Opportunities within Your Professional Network
Use your LinkedIn page and even social media to inform your professional and personal network of your quest for new work. Some of the most promising opportunities come about as a result of referrals and colleague introductions. Having others assist in advocating on your behalf can only increase the chance of finding your new position.

You’re Faced with Insurance Coverage Decisions

One change that takes effect immediately when you get fired from a job is insurance coverage. Understanding your options and making quick decisions now can ensure you and your family continue to have peace of mind during your employment hiatus.

Should You Pay for COBRA?
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) allows terminated employees to continue paying for and keeping a company-sponsored health insurance plan upon separation. It can be helpful to continue your existing coverage, but you will be responsible for 100% of the premiums and an administrative fee of 2%. So electing COBRA coverage can be costly. In 2019, single coverage average costs were $7,012. If you’re paying for family insurance, it can cost upwards of $20,000 for a year of COBRA. You’ll have 60 days to decide whether or not to enroll, and opting in will retro your coverage back to your termination date.

Should You Go Without Insurance?
When you get fired, the last thing you may want to do is pay for something you don’t need. Some terminated employees feel they are generally healthy and can risk a lapse in coverage for the weeks or months it may be before securing new employment. You may be thinking about taking a chance without coverage, but it’s highly ill-advised. Even more devastating than a sudden loss of work is an unforeseen accident or health condition, like a hospitalization due to COVID-19, that requires care when you don’t have insurance coverage.

Browsing to Find a New and Affordable Plan
Insurance costs don’t have to be a burden when you get fired. Instead of going without coverage or opting to pay expensive COBRA premiums, you can shop the Marketplace for a new and affordable plan. The Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010, offers individual health plans that qualify as “minimum essential coverage.” Losing your job qualifies as a Qualifying Life Event and allows you to take advantage of a Special Enrollment Period. You have 60 days to make your enrollment selection.

To make browsing and selecting affordable health coverage easier, we are a trusted partner. Discover personally tailored options and receive expert shopping guidance. You may be feeling frustrated and shocked after having recently been fired. But you can make a few shortlist decisions now to make the unemployment period between jobs easier to endure. And now may be a great time to re-evaluate your career situation and embark on a new path.

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