Career Woman

Made redundant or fired? 6 surprising steps you should take


Let’s face it, being made redundant or fired could happen to any one of us no matter where we work. But losing your job doesn’t have to feel like permanent defeat.

In fact, being savvy about being fired is an essential skillset that you can learn, not just to get back on your feet, but to create your own success and thrive in a new role you may never before have imagined.

6 steps you should take after being fired or made redundant

Here are 6 steps, some larger than others, that you can take after you hear the news that you are no longer employed by your company.

Allow Yourself Time to Grieve

The first gift you need to give yourself is time to grieve. Experiencing loss has its own timeline and stages. There are four stages of grief (defined by John Bowlby and Colin Murray Parkes) that I’ve found are most relevant to how you feel after sudden job loss:

  • Shock and Numbness
  • Yearning and Searching
  • Disorientation and Disorganization
  • Reorganization and Resolution

Once you hear yourself say the words that you’ve been fired or made redundant, and begin telling others in your immediate circle, you begin to desensitize yourself from the shock of no longer being part of your organization. This is only the beginning. Your journey away from your role and into a world of uncertainty has just begun and will take some time.

But I assure you, you will be amazed and delighted by the people who come to your aid that you never knew before or that tell you how much of an impact you’ve had on their lives. Keep their emails and cards close by whenever you need a lift.

Don’t Add Drama to Your Trauma

We know exactly who to call when we want someone to rage on our behalf about being fired or made redundant and make us feel more angry and a victim of unfairness. It may sound counterintuitive, but don’t call those people. Call the ones who will listen quietly to you, understand how you feel, and say they’re sorry. Their empathy will wash over you like spring water and calm you down.

Why is this important? Because within the first minutes and hours of hearing that your life has changed, you’re at your most vulnerable emotionally. You don’t need someone stirring you up so that you say things that you’ll regret. We’ve all heard the stories of someone taking on the security guards as they’re escorted out the door.

Not good…for you, your reputation, or your future prospects. Word spreads easily in tight-knit industry circles.

Decide If You Want to Call a Labor Lawyer

Many people will jump to an employment lawyer as soon as they hear the news that they’ve been let go. It’s reasonable to find out if you have a case under employment law, though in fact, the majority of complainants do not. Most staff in the U.S. are employees at will. Most companies and organizations have excellent resources to protect themselves against liability.

But, a labor lawyer can be one of the most unexpected sources of emotional support at the beginning of your journey. They’ve seen it all. They’ll tell you stories of hideous behavior and may even know a few tales about where you work. It’s therapy and legal counseling rolled into one. At the end of the day, they have the objectivity to tell you what your chances are for winning your case.

Most importantly, if your company offers a severance package, they can help you get benefits that you would not have known to ask for on your own. If you’re filing for unemployment and it’s a straightforward case, you likely will not need a lawyer.

Practical steps to take right away

  • You’ll need to clean out your office, even if you’ve been working virtually. Make arrangements with the facilities staff, respect Covid protocols, and have as much as possible shipped to you. If you must go in, try to do this on off hours and off days. Be sure to take only your personal belongings and not company property.
  • Next, divorce yourself immediately from your company’s digital devices. If they own your laptop, phone, iPad, whatever, they can access your emails, texts, and calls through their servers. Ideally, you’ve had separate devices for personal and business use, but if you’ve slipped, it’s time to stock up on your own tech.
  • Finally, decide how you’d like to tell your staff and colleagues you’ve been fired or made redundant. Write it down if you have to. Rehearse it in the mirror if you need to. You don’t have to tell everyone at once. I call this “volumizing.” Work up to it in shifts, and you’ll find that each time you relate the story of what happened to you, you find a better way to say it. ‘I’m no longer with Bruhaha, Inc. It wasn’t the right place for me.”

Going public and networking

As soon as people hear that you’ve lost your job or been made redundant, they’ll pressure you to network. They may even suggest an avalanche of people that you should reach out to—at least 100—within the first 30 days. However, if you’ve been with an organization a long time, you might not have much of a network outside of your company.

Rest assured, there is no magical number of people nor magical time period when you suddenly have to be out in the public arena for all to see and question. Be strategic about who you really want to talk to. That’s your network. It takes just one person to make one introduction that can lead to another and another…and there you go. Don’t forget to have your “talk track” prepared about what happened so that it’s natural and authentic.

Change your mindset

Getting fired or made redundant pushes us out of our comfort zone, and we yearn to get back to the way things were as quickly as possible. This, however, is your time to step back, reflect, and reconsider your strengths and your value. Ask yourself: Do I want to recreate what I had before or try something completely new?

If you have the financial means to explore new opportunities, do so. You may find that the goals you used to have and the routines that were once so important may not be what you want anymore. If we are able to let go of our old diet of power, title, and position based on our identity at our former company, we are well on our way to empowering ourselves and running on our own energy. The tools used by high-achieving women to change their mindset ranged from the simple act of creating self-affirmations to the more deliberate act of creating a vision board to design their futures.

Being made redundant or fired is your time to discover what’s most important to you and to create your new plan for success.

This is an edited extract from Involuntary Exit: A Woman’s Guide to Thriving After Being Fired (She Writes Press, Oct. 19, 2021)

About Robin Merle

Robin Merle has been a senior executive for billion-dollar organizations. She is a veteran of the power, value, and identity wars at the top ranks; has raised more than a half-billion dollars in philanthropy during her decades working with nonprofit organizations; has served as a board member for three nonprofits in New York City; and has been the vice chair of National Philanthropy Day in New York for three consecutive years. In 2017, she was named Woman of Achievement by Women In Development (WID) for her leadership in fundraising and commitment to women in the field. Robin is a frequent speaker at national conferences on fundraising and leadership. Her short fiction has been published in various literary magazines. Involuntary Exit is her first nonfiction book. Robin splits her time between New York City and North Conway, New Hampshire and Maine. You can find Robin Merle at her website: