I'm getting fired and have no idea what to do next
August 11, 2016 1:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be fired for the first time in my life and I'm completely lost. Messy, rambling details within.

I messed up big time at work, involving a couple of heated and tense arguments (involving raised voices on both our parts) with my boss over my perceived "poor attitude." It's been a reoccurring theme and cause of significant stress recently and I just handled it terribly. Unfortunately, afterward I lost my temper and swore in front of other employees. (Yes, I know. I'm an idiot and I never should have any of it happen. One hundred percent my fault and there's no excuse for it.)

I always received excellent reviews on the technical aspects of my job but have struggled with the interpersonal side of it. I thought I was making progress, but I just screwed up and there's no recovering from it. But while I may be a terrible, awful person, I still need to work. A lot of previous questions seem oriented towards more professional positions. However, I'm coming from the retail world (shipping/receiving side, specifically). I'm 35 years old and I have no idea where to go from here. These are the things I'm struggling with at the moment:

1. I don't believe I'm getting a choice in the matter, but what if they do ask me to resign instead of firing me? It seems in my state (MN) that quitting means I have zero chance at unemployment, but would it look better when job hunting? If I'm fired, it looks like I would at least have a shot at appealing for unemployment, but would it be harder to recover from that on applications/interviews? If I'm already struggling at interviews, would being able to say something like I quit to pursue additional training as opposed to having to say I was fired be worth sacrificing my chance at that?

2. I have no idea how explain this when job hunting. I worked at that location for almost four years, and well over a decade total with that company. I can't say it just wasn't a good fit after being there so long. My job duties didn't change. It's bad and it (rightfully) makes me look bad. While I certainly don't want to lie, I already have a terrible time with interviews and I'm not sure I can recover from this.

3. As mentioned, I struggle with interpersonal skills, particularly when stressed. I just close down and grumpy and prickly. I can manage to seem normal most of the time, but I never formed any connections that would help me in this instance. I have no one to use as a reference and no professional network to appeal to. I've just burned too many bridges.

4. I actually loved my job, but acknowledge that it was basically a dead end. And a lot of the jobs similar to mine require forklift experience, which I don't have. I do have a pretty useless fine arts degree. I would like to try and build up some skills that would get me out of retail eventually. For the moment, I've applied at several other retailers, the sort that don't require references up front just to try and get a source of income. I've been trying to figure out what sort of additional training I should be looking at but I haven't a clue what kind of work one does for a real job. What does the average, unexceptional grown up do for work? My few friends have the sort of officey type jobs that I never considered, but they seem so much better off than me that it feels like I should be aiming for that sort of analyst/data entry/accounts/I don't know clerk. Something involving research maybe? Classes in Excel/MS Office are on the immediate agenda , but any other advice would be so, so welcome.

Throwaway email: rightfullyfired@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
If they get you to resign you need to get anything out of the deal as well.

If anything changed it could still be a bad fit. But there's also the dead end aspect that you bring up. You want somewhere that has more growth potential.
posted by theichibun at 1:48 AM on August 11, 2016


I'm so sorry that this is happened. From your question, it sounds like you haven't been officially fired yet but are waiting for it to happen? If so, it may be a good idea to pre-emptively meet with your boss and say some of what you have said in this question -- in particular, "I struggle with interpersonal skills, particularly when stressed. What happened was hundred percent my fault and there's no excuse for it." At minimum, this could help you to leave on the best note possible and get a reference that reflects how good you are at the technical part of the job.

In terms of what you can say when job hunting, I think it would be fine to just say just that you were in that role for ten years and you now feel like you want to broaden your horizons / gain new skills / develop further etc. I don't think anyone will ask more questions about the specific circumstances of your departure, especially if you are planning to re-skill a little bit before going back onto the market and since you actually do feel that the job was a dead end. Lots of people leave jobs for no reason except that the job was beginning to feel like a dead end and they wanted more; you don't have to disclose anything more than that in a future job interview.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:25 AM on August 11, 2016 [19 favorites]


Don't rule out jobs if you just need fork experience. Are you reasonable spatially? Drive well? I got my licence in a day. (I'm Australian, it's licenced here. The principle still applies.)
posted by deadwax at 2:55 AM on August 11, 2016


"involving a couple of heated and tense arguments (involving raised voices on both our parts) with my boss over my perceived "poor attitude." It's been a reoccurring theme and cause of significant stress recently..."

"I struggle with interpersonal skills, particularly when stressed. I just close down and grumpy and prickly. I can manage to seem normal most of the time, but I never formed any connections that would help me in this instance. I have no one to use as a reference and no professional network to appeal to. I've just burned too many bridges."
You might consider an anger management class or program of some sort, because it sounds like this was the root of the problem and could rear its head again in another job if you don't develop a better understanding of why this pattern developed and learn better ways of dealing with stress. Lacking interpersonal skills doesn't make you "a terrible, awful person," but regularly getting into tense arguments with ANYONE at work, let alone your boss, is likely to wreck your working life no matter what job you have.

I hear that you're trying to take responsibility, but framing this behavior as something integral to your personality, that you just can't help, actually sends the opposite signal; i.e. 'I was a jerk, and I am likely to be a jerk again.' I suspect it would be... not easy, but easier... to learn to manage negative emotions safely, than it would be to find a line of work that will tolerate jerky behavior. You'd probably be a lot happier, too; tense prickliness and open conflict are exhausting!
posted by jon1270 at 4:45 AM on August 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


Lots of people have been fired. I've been fired. Don't freak out.

When I got fired it felt like the end of the world, I was so upset and ashamed. But it actually didn't affect my subsequent job hunting at all, my career has been great.

And literally just last week I met a person who now works for the person who fired me and heard all about how toxic that workplace really is and how many people have been fired from there. That job was one of my firsts so I had zero basis of comparison for how awful it was. It was a revelation to realize that the negative dynamic wasn't just me- it was just my imperfect response to an inherently shitty situation where the other person making it shitty was protected by his position and reputation.

Since then I have worked in many places and I have NEVER behaved as I did with that boss... Because nobody has ever fucked with my human-being boundaries the way he did. Turns out that I'm a great employee who once reacted loudly to being harassed, bullied, and gaslighted for a year.

So. First off take responsibility for your part in it. Apologize verbally (not in writing!) and sincerely but not shamefully for what you did wrong (I should not have raised my voice or used harsh language and I'm sorry I did in this case. It is something I'm reflecting on and will continue to work on). Keep it simple. Apologize verbally to each co-worker who heard you swear. (I had a challenging situation the other day and I wanted to apologize for my reaction- I was emotional and I should have left the room). Again short and simple and don't slag the boss or shift blame. If the convos start to spiral out of control you can say "I don't really want to get into every detail of who and why, I just want to express that I respect you and wanted to apologize for not showing it in that moment".

Then move on with your head high- either as you continue working there or when you terminate the relationship, if it comes to that. I know it feels terrible but it will pass. In two years this will just be an energetic story you tell at a cocktail party- "that time I worked with a jerk and reacted like a somewhat flawed but very normal human". I promise it will be ok.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:59 AM on August 11, 2016 [22 favorites]


Also- if you don't get fired, give a deeper apology in a week or so to help mend fences. I am now a manager myself and recently wrote this comment about an interpersonal issue I had with one of my reports, might help you see it from the other person's side.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:06 AM on August 11, 2016


However, I'm coming from the retail world (shipping/receiving side, specifically).

For what it's worth, I can't think of anything harder or more of a pressure cooker. Two friends of mine have been receiving managers and both went into something else after leaving fairly traumatically. Other people can give you more specific advice about what else to do, but please don't kick yourself too much about this. (And by the same token, don't expect any other similar job to be much better.)
posted by BibiRose at 5:26 AM on August 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you're looking to get out of retail for your next move, sign up with a temping agency. You have a degree, so you should be able to get a quick office job of some sort and can transition that to a new career. It also tells a nice narrative, "I wanted to leave retail/receiving."
posted by advicepig at 5:40 AM on August 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Have you considered going in and apologizing to your boss? Maybe they don't fire you or maybe they are willing to give you a good reference. I don't think it can hurt.
posted by AugustWest at 6:52 AM on August 11, 2016


If, in the end, they want you gone, let the fire you, then go directly to the unemployment office. You may feel guilty/responsible, but don't let them make you pay a heavier price that necessary.

Any new employer may never know. Most companies will only confirm dates of employment, not cause of separation or anything else. If you absolutely need to give a reason down the road, you don't have to go beyond "my new boss and I didn't see eye-to-eye."
posted by SemiSalt at 9:56 AM on August 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Have you considered getting into a career path which involves little or no interpersonal work. Delivery driver for example, Equipment operator for another. If you get fired train in something which seems appealing and move on. Fired, yeah, it's rough on the ego having been thru it more than a couple of times. But it's also a good opportunity to try something different.
And I concur with the apologize to your boss. Even if they keep you around you should be looking at doing something different. This is not the place for you.
posted by ptm at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah definitely don't not go for unemployment...it's your right to claim it.
posted by ian1977 at 4:13 AM on August 14, 2016


« Older How do I politely deflect unwelcome comments about...   |   Advice for long road trip with baby and young... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.