Pick yourself up and brush yourself down. You've been fired, but there's light at the end of the tunnel

The absolute worst has happened. You've been fired from your job. It's devastating. You feel like a failure. Maybe the warning signs were there, maybe they weren't. Whichever is the case, you find yourself jobless and bereft.

Remember that getting fired from a job isn't the same as being made redundant or being laid off. There needs to be a specific reason, and certain steps should be taken by the employer before you're out on your ear.

As with any dramatic change in life, it can be hard to comprehend initially, but there are positive and practical steps you can take to improve the situation. Follow TopCV's tips below on what to do after being dismissed from a job.

The main reasons for getting fired from a job

First, let's delve into some of the reasons as to why you might get fired from your job. 


This can incorporate many misdemeanours, from breaking company rules, to being dishonest, stealing, and insubordination, which is defying authority and refusing to obey orders. Gross misconduct includes such actions as being violent towards a colleague, and can be actioned without having to go through the regular disciplinary processes.

Poor performance

If you're consistently failing at your job, not keeping up with important changes, or clashing with colleagues, these are grounds for dismissal. Your employer should give you verbal and then written warnings, to give you a chance to pull your socks up. If that doesn't work, and you're still falling behind, it will probably be the chop for you.


You might get fired if you have a long-term condition that prevents you from doing your job properly. However, your boss should try to find ways in which to support you, and / or give you time to recover. If you have a disability, your employer is legally required to support you, as being dismissed for being disabled is discrimination.

5 top tips on what to do next

1. Know your rights

This should all be in your contract, so dig that out from the attic and scour through it. It should outline all your rights, including if you get the sack. You also have the right to request a written statement as to why you were dismissed. You should be allowed to work your notice, unless you've been marched out of the workplace immediately - if you've been violent, for example. Check with the HR department if you're unsure. They should still be able to help you as a former employee. If any of your rights have been violated, you could go down the legal route and think about hiring an employment lawyer.

2. Assess the money situation

This is probably one of the most important aspects of getting fired. Depending on the circumstances, you may get something called a “termination payment” or severance pay, which might include unpaid wages, holiday pay, and bonus payments. Do you have to pay tax on these? It will depend on what's included.

3. Ask for constructive feedback

If you can face it, and still have a reasonable relationship with your boss, ask for honest feedback as to what you did wrong. You could get opinions from former colleagues as well, to form a more rounded picture of yourself as an employee. This will work in your favour when applying for new roles, as you can focus on emphasising your strengths and working on your weaknesses.

4. Put the feelers out

Reaching out to your professional network will hopefully open some useful doors and contacts for future roles. They can also act as a safety net if you want advice or support. Consider putting yourself out there even more by attending relevant industry events.

5. Treat yourself to a CV overhaul

Now that you know where you stand, you'll want to start the search for a new role. Before embarking on this, consider using a professional CV writer to take a look at your job search documents objectively and see where they can be improved.

It's worth shopping around for a writer that is the best fit for you. Price is something to consider, but don't plump for the cheapest option - these are often AI-generated or use generic templates that mean you won't stand out from the crowd. TopCV has a wealth of writers who care about your job progression.

Bonus tip: Look after yourself. It might sound trite and obvious, but keeping an eye on your physical, as well as mental, health will hold you in good stead when moving forward.

Do I have to disclose I was fired?

Picture the scene - you're going for a new role and you're as keen as mustard. You tick all the boxes… and then some. Unfortunately, as you were fired from your previous job, it's a delicate situation that you find yourself in. Do you declare that you were fired from a job, and the reason? Or do you keep schtum, and hope the problem goes away by itself?

Well, you know it won't.

Companies are much hotter on performing background checks nowadays, so you're bound to be found out - and not disclosing it beforehand won't be held in your favour.

Like trying to get a job when you have a criminal record, disclosing that you've previously been fired is probably worth getting out in the open sooner rather than later. That's not to say you have to detail it in the cover letter at the application stage, or blurt it out as soon as you walk into the interview room. But the further your application progresses, the better it is to come clean. The way to approach it is to put a positive spin on the situation, saying how much you've learned or changed since the dismissal, depending on the circumstances.

What if you're wrongfully fired from a job?

This is a whole different ball game. If you truly believe you've been wrongfully fired from a job, you need to act straight away. You need to be pretty much 100% sure that you haven't done anything wrong, and that it's the fault of your employer.

To claim unfair dismissal, you have to have worked for the company for a minimum amount of time to qualify. If you started the role on or after 6 April 2012, the period is two years, and it's one year if it's before that same date. This can then lead to an employment tribunal, which can be time-consuming, mentally draining, and potentially costly if you lose, so consider very carefully before going down that route.

Top tip: If you're planning on making an unfair dismissal claim, you must start the process within three months of being fired.

Can you work again after being fired?

Of course. Being fired from one role certainly doesn't mean you can't get another equally responsible job. But it's worth bearing in mind not to make the same mistake again at a new role, so as not to repeat the process! Go into a new role with a positive attitude and the intention that you're going to work hard, give it your all, and not rub people up the wrong way.

Next steps

It's a stressful time if you've been fired from your job, but they say things happen for a reason. Don't be too harsh on yourself and give yourself time to acclimatise to this new life. You never know, it might be the making of you! You could find yourself in a much better position a year down the line than you were in the previous job.

It's time to knuckle down, get your CV into shape, and face the world again. TopCV can be by your side as you set out on this new journey, with a free review of your CV. It offers a professional and honest appraisal to get you back on track again.

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