What If You Get Fired?

Shocked? Well, in today’s economy and business environment it’s not rare or uncommon to get fired. Downsize, upsize, right-size, wrong-size; whatever you may call it, something happens that may not be your fault but you get seriously impacted by it. The new reality is that all jobs are temporary.

If it has happened, take a deep breath and put your chin up. Everything happens for a reason. May be it’s the cause for a great restart of your career with a promising new employer. But, if you are still holding a job, take a sigh of relief. You can do something proactively to avoid this stressful disaster.

Job security does not exist anymore, anywhere. Life-long jobs with one employer are things of past. Experts are predicting a professional in 21st century to make 7-8 job moves over their lifetime career. We are transitioning into a free-lance society. What is required for your professional success is to actively manage your career.

Fired businessman and angry boss. Funny picture from office.

Try the following 7 approaches for a successful career management. Learn it and practice it before it’s too late.

1. Overcome the Fear of Job Security:

Target to work a position for 3 year only. Think like a consultant working on a project. In the first year focus to establish and strengthen your position. Create networking, develop relations, learn new technologies and required skills. During the second year create massive value for the business beyond the call of duty and in the third year position yourself for a new role internally or externally.

Remain visible in the job market and passively look for new opportunities. Never decline a contact initiated by a recruiter or a potential employer. Even if you do not intend to change the job, the interest from the other employers gives you the necessary confidence not to worry about the job security.

Under pressure

2. Know What You Are Good At:

Carry out a personal SWOT analysis. Identify your unique talents and gifts that make you distinct. Relate these talents to opportunities available around you. Develop your talent into your strengths and relentlessly work hard to create massive value by combining your strengths with the opportunities. Target to be among the top 10% within your profession.

young man standing and juggling with red balls

3. Develop a Career Plan:

Start with a life-long vision of your career. Consider the expected technological changes and the upcoming economic trends impacting the industry and the geographical region you are targeting. Setup a 10 year career vision and goal and work it backward into 5, 3, and 1 year goals. Identify the competencies you need to achieve these goals and work hard to acquire and master them. Develop the right mindset to boost your morale and speed up your career success.

Human resources and CEO

4. Continue Professional & Leadership Development:

Experts are warning that half of the knowledge we have today will be obsolete in 2 years. Even to keep ourselves where we are, we need to run.

Spend at least 10% of your time learning new things, preferably 15% and ideally 20%. Read at least one book a month on the subject of your focus. Attend one 1-2 day training workshop or seminar during each quarter at minimum. Develop the habit of regularly reading blogs and attending short webinars in your subject of specialization. After learning something new, conduct a training yourself to train others at your work. You will achieve mastery when you learn something with an intention to teach others.

Doing some cross-training

5. Create a Right Mindset:

The success of your outer game depends on first winning your inner game. Having the right mindset and a positive outlook is extremely important. Believe that there are always plenty of good opportunities available in the marketplace and you have the unique talents to fit those roles. Trust your ability to learn the new knowledge and skills faster when required. Know clearly that career success does not come by hard work alone but by creating massive value for the business you work for.

6. Target New Opportunities:

Always be mentally prepared and keep ready for a new role, internally or externally. Target at least 3 companies and watch the movement in target positions. Keep in touch with at least 3 recruiters and monitor their open positions you may consider. Never decline a contact from a recruiter or a potential employer. If you receive an offer share it with your current employer even if you do not intend to accept. It will tell them that you are in demand but loyal enough to stick with them.

Businessman using binoculars

7. Develop Strategic Relationships:

Create, develop and nurture at least 10 strategic relationships at work and 10 outside work. Take relationship building as part of your job. Create a relationship vision; where do you want to see your strategic relationships in 1, 3 and 5 year. Extensively network within your profession and industry. Identify role models and request them to be your mentor. Don’t under estimate the power of relationship. It is the vehicle on which you ride to progress your career journey.

Please let me have your feedback and comments on the above approaches. What else you are doing to manage your career? Please share your thoughts.
– Saleem Sufi

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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38 thoughts on “What If You Get Fired?

  1. Certainly change is difficult; I know a lot of people when their careers changed they got a new situation that much better than the former.

    I think one of career path change tools is to get practical experience in the exciting field even start as volunteer .

  2. Dear Mr. Sufi,
    A very encouraging article. In fact, I felt as if I know many of these but am not focusing on it. A good refresher and reminder. Keep posting. Good job.


  3. I like your ideas Mr. Sufi.

    Value proposition is aways bigger than talent, which helps job reference.

    Value proposition:
    If a job advert, says: Candidate should have x qualification, and y skill, nationality, gender and age must be a, b, & c then how you embrace your skill and qualification, if you are not fall within that.

    Job Reference:
    It is hidden, not mention anywhere and it supports the value proposition and sometime does not need any criteria, since it becomes a sole criteria.

  4. Thanks for your kind co-operation in our career part.

    I would like to inform you that currently i am an mba finance and pursing my cma from ima and planning to give exam in may 2016 part1 . And searching a good and prospective job in Accounting and finance which can uplift my career.
    How can u guide me in my career.Wether i am fit in your Academic course.

    Waiting for your reply.


  5. Very good suggestions
    Especially the suggestion on building strategic relationships is an excellent idea.

  6. Thanks for sharing! informative and good article. I think sharing job offer with current employer is not always welcome. In one way it may reflect demand but in most cases, it will be dangerous if employer take it negatively.
    There are still organization who believe in internal growth and long term engagement , I believe 3 years is too short to think about leaving a company or job. It’s all depend upon organization industry and profession.

    Although it is always good to be proactive in the market but fearing too much can cause physiological issues and hamper negatively on performance.

    • Dear Nadeem, The 3 year suggestion is for role or position and not necessarily for job or company. The whole idea of the article is to overcome the fear of job security rather than be fearful.

  7. i really appreciate for your 7 points. Job stress differ from area to area specially in Middle east, its % is quite high due to nationality issue.Most of my friends now established personal business alongwith job.
    In my openion
    – Develop strategic relationship in job and in establishing your own business
    -Continues training session for keep you motivate (you r your own boss)
    -Command of multi languages
    -Established relations but work on how to maintain it
    – be a close friend keep you motivate likeMr. Saleem
    best regard

  8. One also needs to keep in mind at all times that economic factors such as demand and supply will affect your career prospects. At the moment there is a surplus of accountants on the market and employers have through technology unlimited access to candidates.

    There is no real solution to oversupply of candidates. In the old days, professions like Law and Accountancy had barriers to entry, but there are too many business degree graduates, MBA’s and othere qualifications on the market.

    There is only so much that the market can absorb.

    • Very rightly said, Ali. That is why it is very important on the part of the candidates to do career planning and carefully select the profession they are delving in.

  9. I am agree with Mr. Saleem as the same happened with me when I switched our good job on request of my old employer son when his company was in serious crisis at attractive terms. I joined him but soon company came out of crisis after passing a year he started teasing me then ultimately I had to leave that place and still jobless due to my wrong decision and no future planning.


  10. I feel getting fired happened to all once in a career life!
    we should be ready for it all the time. If we keep strong and real faith in Allah as the only Razzak, we can easily bear this transition period..I have experienced this thrice in my career and every time it’s for the betterment of me and my career…

  11. I will try my best to use my skills for providing consultancy services and meet my contacts for obtaining of maximum numbers.

  12. Remarkable information, how can we overcome from the economic loss, sustain to feed the family, hundreds of thousands social and mental problems.

    This issue requires a deep thought for making a plan for the group of like minded professionals, can establish a forum or started business groups from a small group of professionals.

  13. Dear Mr. Saleem,
    I listened to your similar views in the last MECA CFO conference dated 9-Dec-2014 held in Ritz Carlton, DIFC, Dubai. Your thoughts are an eye-opener for those who tend to forget things that are vital for them and play significant role in their career progression. I would like to share below approach that I adopted to face the challenges discussed in your article.

    Top 5 Development Steps
    My career anchor exercise (2014) at MBS career service website and the career leader report have made it easy for me to understand and identify my priorities, key skills, strengths and the areas that can be developed further. I follow the below 5-step approach for my career development which is provided by Simmons Career Education Centre and which is very similar to one given on Career Leader website.
    Knowing myself – I begin to identify my values, interests, skills, personal traits and career satisfiers in order to identify the ingredients of a good career “fit”. In order to achieve this objective, I attended a one-to-one session with a career coach recently and completed a number of self-awareness exercises and personality questionnaires.

    Exploring career possibilities – I start to learn the connections between courses and careers, and through application of Manchester Method, discover the benefits of experiential learning. Using the career service website of MBS, I am able to explore a number of career possibilities through career guidance service, jobs and skills requirement for a particular job or profession. After having pursued my career in Finance, the career guidance service helped me in taking decision to follow career path in ‘strategy function’ as a General Strategist. This is not only matching with my interest but I would be able to use my Finance knowledge in developing corporate strategies and analysing the effects of those strategies financially as well.
    Developing Employability Skills – By attending series of seminars on ‘Employability Skills’ arranged by MBS, I am able to prepare an effective CV and cover letter. This also helps me in developing interview skills. I can now write effective cover letters or CVs according to the need of the time.
    Developing and implementing job search strategy – This involves sharpening job search skills, evaluating potential employers, practicing interviewing skills, networking through university, friends and family, joining alumni and other professional groups on LinkedIn and attending career events.
    Making an informed and meaningful career decision – This involves analysing job offers, weighing different options, considering the balance between work and family life and learning and practicing negotiation skills.

  14. Great article Saleem. It’s a fact every one could face and has to accept.
    The question however is how could you add value to both your employer and your career at the same time while keep changeing jobs within short period?
    Happy 2015 to all

    • Yasser, Think of successful consultants. They work on short assignment with different companies and still create value on each assignment. It’s a matter of mindset. If we have a mindset of continuity, we become somewhat lazy and complacent.

  15. This is a very good reading and more so very relevant these days. While I agree with the writeup in its entirety, I do wish to draw your attention to another aspect of this disposition which is to also consider self employment in such an environment. Jobs are a good medium to arrange our sustenance but then jobs are jobs and they can only get as good as they can. I dont think there is anything like a dream job. Jobs and dreams are mutually exclusive. When we do so much to get and keep our jobs, why cant we do as much to develop our own businesses. Jobs wear off with time and businesses normally get better with it. What a job just wont do, a business inherently promises. I think there is a clear difference between “earning money” and “making money”. I think we should also focus on developing our mindset and skillset to develop (our own) businesses rather than only developing them for working for others.

    • Fully agree, Rizwan. Unfortunately, most of us do not have the courage to delve into entrepreneurial risk and remain happy with month to month pay check.

  16. Excellent article. However, it is sometimes very difficult to act strictly according to these advises. e.g. I barely get spare time for reading books. Further, number of times we do a lot of planning but fate decide something else for us 🙁

  17. Proactive action includes purchase of insurance policy against job loss, also to pursue specialization to gain competitive advantage over other candidates. Leadership training and exposure to job market are most important factors to minimize the impact of losing a job.

    If the CFO was successful in his recent job and was improving processes and people, these improvements will count when submitting for a new job, hence, being good at the current job is an essential part of the process of finding a new job.

    Thank you for the great article.

    Waleed Tibi

  18. Really thought provoking and leads to a proactive environment.Also this article is the need of the hour

  19. This is an excellent post. The only thing I would like to add is that one should work hard to build a ‘personal brand’. This could possibly be achieved in a number of ways such as successfully delivering on a prominent project, getting involved with a professional body, conducting trainings, seminars, workshops, webinars, etc. or perhaps writing a blog on topics of interest to professionals. Freelance work and independent consulting assignments provide an excellent opportunity to create personal portfolios and hedge against downside risks in times of headwinds.

    • Kashif, You are absolutely right on personal branding. Managing your brand and reputation is actually a part of career management.

  20. Most of the points are agreeable but I think you were trying to see the job and career as isolated from the personal,family and social life. I propse to have one major point to be added on positioning ourselves on a comfortable wealth base and family base to ensure that an external force is not distructing or infulencing the focus of a new job on a sudden job loss.
    Point No.6 to focus on 3 employers are seems to be worthless rather I would suggest to focus on 3 industrial segments . Learn and focus on 3 new industries which will help the professional to shift from one industry to another and can get rid of industry branding.

    • Dear Manoj, I am a big advocate of work-life integration. We have one life and work, family and social life are all integral part of it. The message I tried to bring is to strike a balance between the focus on current job and career management so we can smooth out any involuntary transitions between jobs.

  21. The following are the additional approaches for a successful career management:

    1. Develop professional networking
    2. Self-appraisal (SWOT analysis and evaluate the critical reasons behind your failure)
    3. Explore new avenues to earn (New job market and establishing your own business)
    4. Replan and manage your investments and savings
    5. Develop other source of earning during your good time (investments and other side business)
    6. Lastly prayers and keep spending your time and money for good deeds

  22. Couldn’t agree more with your proposed strategy.
    It’s is extremely similar to my approach in some aspects and what I always aim in other ones.
    Good job Saleem, it was an inspiring quick read this morning!