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What To Do When You Know You're Getting Fired

05/26/2017 04:24 EDT | Updated 05/26/2017 04:24 EDT

There are few scenarios more stressful than feeling like your days of employment are numbered. Whether you're convinced that your performance isn't up to snuff or you know you can't manoeuvre away from an impending round of job cuts, going to work with a sense of impending doom can make just about anyone panic.

The good news is you're not entirely helpless. Here are a few things you can do when you know you're getting fired.

stressed worker

Simply ask if your job's in danger

There's nothing wrong with being direct, especially where your livelihood is concerned. Why dance around the issue? If you're certain your position's in danger, you have little to lose from talking to your manager. "Say, 'hey, look, I'm getting these weird vibes, I get the feeling that my job is on the line, am I right?'" said Clear HR Consulting Principal Consultant Cissy Pau. "It may not be the best approach every time, but if you're sitting there on eggshells, sometimes it's better to say, 'look, am I on the list?'"

Craft an exit plan

For now, you have a job, so look at this as an opportunity to polish your resume, beef up your LinkedIn profile, and begin reaching out to networking contacts to ensure a smoother landing later.

"We tend to get new jobs from those people at the periphery of our circle, so keeping those contacts active is important," said Lee Weisser, career counsellor and life coach with Careers by Design.

Pack your stuff (quietly)

Depending on how your pending termination transpires, you might not have the luxury to round up your personal effects. To avoid the embarrassing spectacle of hurriedly packing a box next to stern security guards while your coworkers gawk, Weisser recommends rounding up any personal items from your office early. Oh, and that goes for important personal information on your work computer or work phone too.

fired worker

Talk to a lawyer

No one's saying you should jump straight into a lawsuit, but it's worth knowing your options. Weisser recommends collecting performance reviews as well as your employment agreement or contract, all of which will help to determine the size of your severance. You should see a real lawyer, by the way, rather than sourcing legal advice from the Internet.

Burn no bridges

All but the most zen among us would feel angry about being fired, but anger isn't going to help you find a new job.

"The world is so small and you have to make sure you're respectful and courteous because it will come back to bite you if you aren't," Pau said. In fact, she even recommends creating transition documents that will make the process smoother. Your employer will remember that you left with class and could someday be a valuable reference.

Stay positive

Generally, people who feel they're about to lose their job also lose their self-esteem amid all the anxiety. Maintaining a healthy mental state is difficult but crucial.

"It's really important to have some kind of daily practice, whether it's meditation, or exercise, or doing something you enjoy to keep your spirits up," Weisser said. "It's tempting to withdraw from social situations because you don't want to talk about it, but it's important to keep in touch with the family and friends who really support you."

Learn from it

It's natural to feel some defiance in the face of news like this, but unless you're the victim of company-wide layoffs, you probably played a role in your dismissal. Reflect on your time with the company and consider how you can avoid this happening again. "You need to put the ego aside and think about things from the employer's perspective," Pau said. "A lot of times people think it's the company's fault, and sometimes it is, but it takes two to tango."

See also:

What your handshake says about you

How to quit your job with class

6 workplace etiquette rules that can boost your career

The do's and don'ts of talking politics at work

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