How to bounce back after you have been fired from your job

Being fired can come as a huge shock. So, before you launch yourself back into the job market, follow these steps to help minimise the fallout.

Give yourself time to let it sink in

You cannot really bounce back into an effective job hunt until you have dealt with the negative emotions. You will need to project a positive image to woo potential employers, so give yourself space to work through your feelings.

It can take time to see the situation in a more objective light, but it is helpful to think about what went wrong, and any lessons you can learn. Could you have prevented it? Was it down to external factors (company problems, management changes, et cetera) or your own shortcomings – in which case, what will you need to do to improve your future employability?

There may even be positives. Perhaps it frees you up to explore a new career path, or it is given you the opportunity to reassess where your strengths, values and interests lie. Do not let being fired overshadow an otherwise stellar career. Focus on your overall pattern of highlights and achievements.

Work out how you will present it

If the job itself was very brief, you may be able to omit it from your CV, especially if you have other activities to account for the gap. If you decide to include it, detail your achievements in the role, and do not give the reason for leaving.

Decide how you will talk about it in interviews. Aim for a factual explanation. Too much detail can make you sound defensive rather than accepting of the situation. It's important to show that you have moved on and that you're focused on the job, so it's worth asking a trusted friend or colleague for feedback on how you come across when you talk about it.

Prepare for your next move

Do not rush into a job search before you've taken the time to decide your career priorities and to plan your next move – whether that's in a similar role in the same industry, or a move into consultancy or freelancing. Avoid firing off unfocused CVs in a desperate attempt to get any new job. Instead, bring your CV up to date and spend time customising it to the roles and companies that interest you.

Put the experience behind you by shifting your focus towards what you can offer. Assess your areas of expertise, find examples that illustrate these, then present these clearly and convincingly in all your dealings with potential employers

– on CVs, at interviews, in speculative letters, at networking events, and so on. Make sure you can articulate why you want to work for that particular employer and how your experience makes you a good match, rather than giving them

the impression that you are applying for new roles indiscriminately.

Also think about your networking messages. Don't start contacting people and asking for help until you know what your career goals are. A message such as, "I'm really interested in finding out more about X sector or Y company", will give people more to go on that, "do you know of any jobs going?"

Maintain a professional image

Try to agree the wording of a reference letter before you leave, as well as any communication to colleagues, clients or suppliers about your departure. Exit as gracefully as you can and do not publicly slate your ex-employer or blast out

angry emails. Keeping a folder of positive performance reviews and endorsements from other company managers, clients and colleagues as well as previous letters of reference, can speed up your job search.