'I Was Fired!' What to Do When You Get the Boot -- 5 Tips

Dear Salary Sally,

As an aspiring fashion magazine editor, I'm not the kind of gal to call in sick. In fact, I probably qualify as a workaholic. It's the only way to get noticed at a fashion magazine, after all. The pay is dreadfully low, so you have to be passionate and work hard if you want to succeed in the biz and earn a hefty salary.

I always come in early, am the last one to leave and work my butt off in between. In fact, it took three summers of running errands in three-inch pumps and fetching Starbucks for the higher ups before an editor noticed me and I got a real job offer. I jumped at the opportunity to work as an assistant editor and was sure I was on my way to the top.

A few months into my full-time gig with the magazine, I fell ill with the flu. I'd never taken a sick day before but I was puking my guts into the toilet and there was no way I could make it to the office. I called my editor and she wished me a quick recovery. I was so relieved.

When I returned to my dream job the following Monday, the executive editor of the mag politely called me into her office and fed me this line: "We're making some staff changes. Excessive absences can't be tolerated. Please clear out your desk."

I was devastated and speechless, fighting back tears. I walked to my desk to find a security guard waiting, cleared my desk and was escorted out of the building.

Salary Sally, is it fair for them to fire me for taking sick leave – and is there any way for me to get my awesome job back?! -Former Fashionista

Dear Fashionista,

You're right. You never should have gotten the ax for being under the weather. What's done is done, though – and there's no point in trying to go back into a hostile work environment. Here are four tips on how to protect yourself and move on to the next great thing.


1. Fight the Firing: Protect your Unemployment Benefits

Schedule a meeting with the magazine's human resources department to discuss your firing. You'll want to file for unemployment and excessive absences may not be an acceptable reason. "Produce a doctor's note. Their claim about excessive absences isn't legitimate," says Steven Mitchell Sack, a New York City-based labor and employment attorney and author of "Getting Fired: What to do if you're Fired, Downsized, Laid Off, Restructured, Discharged, Terminated, or Forced to Resign."

"It's important to get [your employment record] expunged," Sack said.


2. Research your Salary and Job Options

Getting fired can be a sign that a job or employer just isn't the right fit for you. Instead of fixating on what you've lost, look toward the future. Compare your salary to others with similar education and experience to get a sense of what you can earn. Take it a step further and play around with the kinds of jobs that might be available to you. Look for something that matches your passion, your career goals and your salary requirements.


3. Reconsider your Resume

Even if the job you were fired from is super hot and enviable, you may want to leave it off your resume. "If it's a first job and it's been less than two months, it's not worth the questions," Sack said.


4. Find a Better Gig

Your former employer will be sorry that they ever let you go when you end up working for the competition down the street. Here are some tips on how to get back on the job search train.

  • Tell everyone you know you're job hunting. Swallow your pride and let people know you lost your job. We mean everyone, not just your friends in the fashion business. Your Pilates instructor may have another client who needs a fabulous assistant. Sometimes it really is all about who you know.
  • Set up "informational interviews." If you've got a friend of a friend at another fashion magazine, ask to meet her boss. She'll offer her best advice and possibly pass along more names of more people to talk to. Eventually one of those folks might offer you a job.
  • Freelance. Get your name out there with gig after gig. If you do a great job, you'll be invited back. Don't be afraid to ask if your temp boss knows anyone else who may be looking for freelancers.

5. Find an Employer with a Solid Sick Leave Policy

A 2008 Society for Human Resource Management survey found that most companies are sensitive to illness. Seventy-four percent of companies offer paid sick leave and 13 percent of companies let workers accumulate sick days over several years, giving them the opportunity to be paid for a prolonged illness. Some companies even let you donate your sick days to co-workers who have serious illnesses.

Fashionista, if you're really up for hard work and can survive meanness of fashion journalism, I'm sure that you'll get an enviable offer soon.

Good luck with your search!

Salary Sally

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kaedd2

i was fired buttt in that job i never got paid my overtimeee and never had a lunch break plus my employer did tip pooling im confused should i go to labor board or get a lawyer?

August 06 2011 at 7:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
annie

I am pretty sure I am being fired tomorrow, does my employer have to pay me what the owe me and my vacation pay when they do it? Please any help out there???

Aloha

October 20 2010 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
truckgirlV*

Wow what wrong with the world we are able willing and have brains and we are out of work fired laid off i think the employment laws need to change i was terminated because I wrote to HR open door policy about a manager who was deliberately trying fire me she said she would and did. I have written several letters and now to the EEOC and whats worse the company told unemployment i was fired for misconduct but couldn't describe the misconduct what do you do these employers should be fined when they play games like this

August 19 2009 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rhonda

Beware of these "work from homw" hunky-dory stories. Don't EVER give them (any company you can't touch, see, feel, or have checked with the BBB Better Business Bureau) your debit/bank card or account number. No matter how desperate you think you are. A lot of these unfortunately aren't for real. Some are. Do the research, but I wouldn't click on anybody's link you don't know, you could get phished (they get your password) When the economy's the way it is, out come the thiefs and con artists in a much more pronounced way than before. They KNOW how desperate you are to make some money, anything & will promise you there's no strings attached. Beware!

August 19 2009 at 9:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Unemployed_1

Can someone tell me if this is legal, I was recently asked to resign from my job as a warehouse associate because I asked a question, I asked what's the top salary for a warehouse assoc, next thing I know the HR mgr was telling me that it would be best if I resign because I'm not happy w/the money I'm making, I told her no I would stay on until I find something better she told me I couldn't if I stayed on I would be terminated. Can an employer even do that? is that even legal?

August 08 2009 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Unemployed_1

Can someone tell me if this is leagl, I was recently asked to resign from my job as a warehouse associate because I asked a question, I asked what's the top salary for a warehouse assoc, next thing I know the HR mgr was telling me that it would be best if I resign because I'm not happy w/the money I'm making, I told her no I would stay on until I find something better she told me I couldn't if I stayed on I would be terminated. Can an employer even do that? is that even legal?

August 08 2009 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marlene

Being fired is devastating mostly when you have been working pay check to pay check. I Have a profound disability which makes it awfully hard to find another job.
As a matter of fact the supervisor that had hired me @ my job I was fired from knew about my disability. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity which causes my airway to constrict when I smell Perfumes (or perfumy odors)& other chemical agents, smoke, etc. I went to the hosp. from work one day(Fri.) because of this problem & was discharged on sun. with a note stating I could go back to work on Mon. Well I phoned my sup. she stated I needed to speak to her boss to schedule my return-I phoned her boss & was told to fax her the return note. I did & called on tues & wed morn to see when I could return to work & was told I'd be contacted I & I would be pd for time off.My sups boss called me in to meet with her wed. afternoon that's when I was fired. I was told I did nothing wrong & my work was excellent but be cause this boss stated I had kept my disability from her she could not acommodate me. This did not make since to me since I had been @ the company for 6 months full-time & part-time contract before then My boss knew about it & acommodated me as much as possible. Now since I'v lost my job I am going to have to move out of my apt. & live in my car that I am still making payments on.I cannot take public transit because of the close contact with other people & the fragrances they wear. I have to wear a Chemical mask when I go out in public but I cannot keep it on very long without getting fresh air. I really want to work, but i have to be acommodated for my disability & safety. I have to keep my faith in the Lord-He has a plan for me -I can not see it but it could always be worse.

August 08 2009 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
grinny5

I was fired last February. I could tell it was coming but the job had become so exhausting I could not pretend it was otherwise. For all that I am struggling to keep up with my bills, I am just as relieved to be out of there. Nothing is worse than retail. It just drags you down and ruins your self-esteem.

August 04 2009 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred M pohl

I vehemly having some Barney Fife wannabe security guard to escort me out When I buseted my ass and Being treated like a common crimnial and my supervisor told a pack of lies on me and Ihave no means of defending myself and yet thier buddy boys do stuff intentionally get away with wholesale murder I despise favoritism suck asses and ratfinks who want to make themselves look good at somene elses expense and other wannbebe bosses who always have too much to say

August 04 2009 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
roscoe

i knew a man who got fired because he was trying to find a better job but as he knew the copanys contractors he cost the company 1000,ooo dollars they took there business else where

August 04 2009 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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