You’re Fired–So Solve These 8 Major Problems

You can’t believe what your supervisor just said: “Our company is feeling the impact of the economic nose dive. So we’re going to have to eliminate your position, effective today. Now let’s take a minute to review your severance plan.”

Instantly, you’re in shock. Controlling your inner turmoil isn’t easy. A tidal wave of emotion sweeps over you. You feel cheated: “This isn’t fair,” you’re thinking, “because I’ve been loyal and productive. Why not Alice, who never got her work done on time?”

You are afraid: “How am I going to pay our mortgage? And Jenny has three more years of college. Where is her tuition coming from?”

You are resentful: “After all I have done for these people, they owe me a promotion, not a pink slip.”

Your feelings are hurt. You are profoundly sad. As your supervisor asks for your office keys, your eyes sting from the mounting tears that are ready to flow.

You want to protest, fight back, demand an appointment with the CEO, and even talk with an attorney.

Obviously, Your first major problem is to subdue your anxiety, despair, and resentment.

I faced that problem, too. In 1996, the year had dawned with great promise. As vice president of a charitable organization, I had exceeded my fund raising goals by thiry-one percent. My salary was excellent, and I had just deposited a strong year-end bonus. The signs pointed toward remaining in my current position until voluntary retirement. Then my supervisor entered my office, shut the door, and said, “I have an unpleasant job to do today.”

From a couple of vantage points, the odds didn’t look good for me. My fiftieth birthday was behind me, and I was well aware of an unspoken managerial preference for “new faces and fresh ideas,” which ordinarily translates into younger employees. My quest would be tougher than the same challenge a decade earlier.

Too, my salary had been at a high level I wasn’t sure I could match. And I was racing against time, as my severance package would last just a few months.

Like you, I felt like launching a counterattack, starting with, “You’ve had your say, now you’re going to listen to what I really think about you and everybody else in management.”

What stopped me? An inner voice told me that combative response would only make my situation worse. Whether my firing was justifiable or not, I would need positive references. A potential employer might ask my HR Director, “Did Bill leave a good impression there?” Then too, spiteful words would rule out possibilities of eventually asking for an extension of benefits.

Your second major problem: Telling relatives and friends

On your way home, you’re likely to feel ashamed. You silently ask, “How could I let down those who love me and believe in me?” Facing your family and friends seems unbearably tough.

I still remember when my wife came home from her job that January day, asking the usual, “Well, how was your day?” Without delay, I told her what had happened. I didn’t blame anybody else, nor did I play the victim’s role.

“But we’ll lose our home,” she said “That’s a logical fear,” I responded,”but you can take my word that won’t happen.” I was right. Ten years later, we made our final mortgage payment.

That night, we called my wife’s mother, our daughters, my brother and two sisters. We made a list of friends to call the next day. I opened those phone conversations with, “I want to tell you something before you hear it from somebody else.”

Your third major problem: The tendency to postpone your job search

You are tempted to share relaxed lunches with friends you didn’t have time for before. You can head to the gym mid morning , and find other unemployed people to talk with. And isn’t this an opportune time to take a few golf lessons? “Gotta wait until I’m in a better mood,” you reason, “before I start knocking on doors.”

I faced those temptations, because leisure and recreation are unquestionably more enjoyable than a job search. Yet they don’t move you closer to a paycheck. So–with the help of an outplacement specialist my former employer provided–I mapped out a job search strategy. Instead of giving myself a vacation, I went after my next job with the persistence that got me my first professional position.

During the next six months, I phoned every colleague who might know about job openings, and I followed the referrals diligently.

Your fourth major problem: Taking the wrong job just so you’ll get paid.

As your bank account dwindles and your benefits deadline approaches, you might feel obligated to take the first job offer you get. “Whew,” you sigh with relief, “that was a close one. At least now I’ve got some income.”

After chasing many empty leads, I took that misstep which is common for the unemployed. I accepted a job that didn’t match my interests or skills. Almost immediately, I felt out of place. My employer sensed a mismatch at least as soon as I did. After four months out of state, I returned home, once again off the payroll.

Now I had two recent job losses to explain. I hadn’t simplified my quest, I had complicated it. So learn from my mistake before you impulsively grab the first job offer.

Your fifth major problem: Overcoming your deficiencies.

During candid analysis of your skill set, you will identify gaps that might limit your marketability. Let’s assume that you live in a bilingual community, yet you can’t read or speak anything other than your native tongue. All right, now is the time to erase that limitation. Enroll in language classes or hire a tutor.

During my self-appraisal, I identified several areas of weakness. Example: While my colleagues were becoming comfortable with computers, I delegated that responsibility to my staff. Now I had no one to delegate to, so I took charge myself. I bought a computer and paid for private tutoring. Soon I became comfortable with the Internet and with word processing. Months later, I enrolled in evening seminars on Power Point and Desktop publishing.

Your sixth major problem: Identifying your major interests and assets.

Having just been told that you are not valuable enough to remain at your company, you could easily lose your self-confidence. Big mistake–because you need strong self esteem now, possibly stronger than ever. So balance your list of liabilites by spotlighting your assets. Write them down specifically, not generally. Don’t be overly modest. Keep an old athletic adage in mind: “It isn’t bragging, if you can do it.”

I asked myself honestly, “What do I enjoy doing the most, and what do I do best?” I recalled that during all my years of fundraising and management, I had freelanced as a writer, speaker, broadcaster, seminar director, speech coach and consultant at every opportunity.

In my case, that review of my professional talent and preferences turned me into an entrepreneur. “Now,” I decided, “I can do all these communication activities without creating a conflict with an employer.”

So exactly one year after my dismissal–including, as I said, another job loss–my wife and I talked about launching a new career thrust.  “Let’s do it,” we agreed. I started outlining speeches and seminars, and boldly chose a company name.

That step toward self-emplyment might not describe the direction you will take. Even so, you will expand your job options by becoming keenly aware of your in-demand skills and services.

Your seventh major problem: Trying to handle your job search without help

Sort of predictable, don’t you think? After all, you had spent hundreds of hours with associates who just rejected you. If they turned against you, how can you trust strangers?

I felt that way at the start. For six months, I made cold calls–which brought two negative results: a larger phone bill, and a drop in pride.

Fortunately, next I turned to respected local business leaders for advice, requesting candid feedback for the speech/seminar titles I showed them. They helped me determine which topics would have the strongest appeal.

My smartest move came when I joined both the Georgia Speakers Association and the National Speakers Association. I attended training sessions and conventions, always learning more about how to position myself to attract clients. Within two years I was presenting convention programs for the national organization, which I hadn’t heard of previously.

Your eighth major problem: Expecting things to happen too quickly.

If this is your first time to be between jobs, your impatience will reach unprecedented levels. You get furious with the comment, “We like your qualifications. When our hiring freeze ends next year, we’ll get back with you.” Next year. . .how are you supposed to survive and feed your family in the meantime?

My progress wasn’t immediate either. During the building period, we went months without income from me. I contributed hope, promises, and a rigorous work schedule. And yes, some letters and e-mails went unanswered, calls weren’t returned, “sure things” weren’t so sure after all, and there was no forecast of when business would increase.

For advice and encouragement, I turned to experienced professional speakers. Even the big names talked about how cyclical this business is. “Hang in there,” they advised. “If we made a good living eventually, then so can you.”

I heeded their good advice. I began to think of failures and rejections as detours, not dead end streets. This approach became especially beneficial right after 9/11 and during the current economic slump.

So if you don’t get instant results, have faith that your dedication and determination will pay off.

Although my beginning months weren’t all that encouraging, good things started happening. After hosting my own radio show for a year, I turned the broadcasted material into my book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! A Waldenbooks store held the first of a hundred book signings.

More than a dozen years after I started my business, I am delighted to share a few professional highlights:

*Enrichment Lecturer for Oceania and Celebrity Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and Bermuda
*Interviewed by more than 300 radio stations
*Keynote speaker, British Columbia Legal Management Association in Whistler, BC
*Produced 28 instructional videos for You Tube
*Stage Fright video on You Tube has attracted 12,755 viewers
*Directed a management seminar for the Ritz-Carlton Cancun
*Provided speech coaching for Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Duracell, and others
*Keynote speaker for a bank celebrating its 75th anniversary
*Interviewed by Cosmopolitan, Entrepreneur, Investor’s Busines Daily, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Delta’s SKY, HR Today, Career Builder, and Working Mother

So if you have gone through a job loss, or expect one soon, consider me an example of a fired persion–and an older one at that–who wouldn’t consider himself finished because he was fired. Amazingly, I have demonstrated that life after downsizing can become even more joyful and creative than before.

I recommend the recovery process that works for me. Forget “If only. . . .” and move on to “Here’s what I’m going to do.” With the understanding and support of family and colleagues, and with dogged determination and drive, you’ll achieve those dreams that–like mine–were once just part-time fantasies.


“From Fired to Hired: Top 10 Communication Strategies
That Will Make That Happen for You”

We’ve looked at the 8 major problems a fired worker faces, and we have described how you can overcome them.

But there’s more. To become a winner in this highly competetive job market, you can follow my “Top 10 Communication Strategies” for job searchers. If you don’t use these top 10 communication strategies, others will. Can you afford to have them know what you need to know–now?

You can access this Special Report by scrolling down to the previous blog, or by using this link:

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., “The Complete Communicator”

We welcome your comments. After reading this article, you are free to post your comment. Just go to the end of the blog entry and click NO COMMENTS if none have been made, or if comments have been made click 1 comment, 2 comments, or whatever the comments button says. The comments section will appear.

From Fired to Hired: 10 Communication Strategies That Will Make That Happen for You


Have you been fired?

If so, you know all the negative feelings that assault you immediately. You feel:

*Confused—“I thought they liked my work.”

*Cheated—“They should have fired George instead. His work was sloppy.”

*Resentful—“I’ll tell everybody off if I ever get the chance.”

*Sad—“I feel like I’m attending my own funeral.”

*Frightened—“Guess I’ll never get a good job again.”

*Bitter—“I’ll never speak to those people again.”

*Worried—“I can’t eat, sleep, or even think straight.”

*Alone—“Now I know what real loneliness is.”

*Ashamed—“Guess I let my family down big-time.”

I know these feelings all too well, because in 1996 I lost a job I thought I would have for the rest of my career. For two or three days, these defeatist attitudes had a solid grip on me.

However, I realized quite soon that I had to change my thought pattern in order to become successful. Basically, I relied more than ever on my communication skills, because I believe Daniel Webster’s statement:

If I were to lose all of my possessions except one, I would save the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all of the rest.”

In fact, through my experiences–and by observing how others bounced back from a professional grave site–I have identified ten communication strategies that will move you from fired. . .to hired. Not only will I describe the strategies, I will recommend resources you can use to develop each one.

FIRST STRATEGY: Talk Positively to Yourself

You might be thinking, “That’s crazy. I don’t talk to myself.” But you do. I’ll bet you have muttered to yourself comments like these:

  • “Lost my glasses again. Man, am I scatterbrained.”
  • “No need for me to try out for the team. I’ve got no athletic ability.”
  • “I’m so sloppy. That’s why my office looks this disorganized.”

During a job search, you need to change the tone of your self-talk considerably. In fact, you should say many affirmative things to yourself before you go to your first job interview. Try affirmations like these:

“My suit might not be new, but it’s still in style and looks very professional.”

“I meet people well, so this interview will give me a chance to shine.”

“Other candidates for this position might have more credentials on paper, yet none of them can match my work ethic, which makes me the ideal choice.”

*Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance”

*Shad Helmstetter, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself

*Bill Lampton’s video, “Talk With Yourself Before You Talk with Others”

Here’s the link:

SECOND STRATEGY: Sharpen Your Speaking Skills

When you interview for upper level jobs, you can expect to do more than talk with one or two individuals in an interview setting. Chances are good that you will also speak to a group, made up of the officials you would be working with very closely. Search committee heads arrange these group interviews frequently, so you will be wise to get ready for them.

Let’s face it—we choose presidents, corporate CEOs, coaches, and other leaders because they can stand before a group and share their ideas with poise, power, and persuasive ability.

Roger Ailes, You Are the Message

Bill Lampton, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! Chapter 5, “Giving Speeches”

Bill Lampton’s CD, “How to Become a Dynamic Speaker!”

Bill Lampton’s video, “Six Steps for Controlling Your Stage Fright”

Bill Lampton’s video, “3 More Ways to Control Your Stage Fright”

Bill Lampton as your Speech Coach—a service he has provided for top executives at Gillette, Duracell, Procter & Gamble, Worldwide, Inc., Aivant, and other corporations

THIRD STRATEGY: Learn to Make a Sizzling First Impression

The old saying is absolutely true: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Human behavior researchers tell us that we have between 7 and 17 seconds in an initial meeting with someone we don’t know to impress them favorably. If we fail to do that then, we’ll have a tough time getting them to like us—and to consider us a leading candidate for a job.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of hosting CBS news analyst Charles Kuralt, when my organization hosted him for a speaking event. Our planning committee knew he would deliver an interesting, information packed speech. That was his strong suit. Here’s what we were nervous about, though–how he would relate to audience members on a one on one basis.

Within only a few seconds after Kuralt arrived, we had our answer. Kuralt was just as warm and friendly as he was in his popular “On the Road” TV program. Instantly, he was chatty, smiling broadly, making sure he caught our names, and asking us about our city’s heritage. His gracious manner lasted the whole evening. He even stayed an hour longer than his contract required. As he was leaving, I told him: “You came here as our guest, but you left here with us as your guests.”

Bill Lampton’s “How to Make a Sizzling First Impression!”
Order the CD or the mp3

FOURTH STRATEGY: Become a Keen Listener

Assume that you are interviewing a candidate for a job. Suppose the candidate didn’t get your name right, or the name of your executive assistant. Imagine that although the candidate seems intelligent and articulate, he seems to misunderstand key points you are trying to make. Occasionally he asks you to repeat a question. Once while you were talking, he was looking out the window, as though he had lost interest. He looks like he prefers not to be here.

As a supervisor, would you hire this person? No, you wouldn’t. You recognize that top-notch team members are keen listeners.

Almost everyone who meets former President Bill Clinton gives the same report. They describe Clinton as one of the finest listeners they ever met. He welcomes everything you say. He asks questions, inviting you to talk longer. He nods in agreement. He doesn’t interrupt you. He seems far more interested in what you have to say than in taking over the conversation himself.

Interviewers respond very positively to good listeners, sensing they will become solid team players, open to other people’s ideas.

Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Chapter 5

Bill Lampton, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! Chapter 6, “Listening”

Bill Lampton’s video, “What’s Your Listening Level?”

FIFTH STRATEGY: Maintain Maximum Motivation

I’ll admit that’s not easy for an unemployed person. Appointments get canceled, advertised jobs are filled before you apply, and you keep finishing among the top four finalists—which doesn’t do you any good at the bank or grocery store.

Realize first that maintaining your motivation is strictly up to you. Your family, friends, and professional contacts can’t do that for you. Don’t wait on others to inspire you.

Our first strategy explained the value of self-talk. That’s a splendid starting point for staying motivated. Consider some other motivation steps.

Affiliate with a positive group. Avoid hanging around with job seekers who complain constantly that “there’s nothing out there for any of us.” Join civic, humanitarian, or religious groups centered on hope.

Study the lives of highly successful people, particularly those who faced severe hardships. For me, Christopher Reeve endured his paralysis with grace, humor, and optimism, though his condition warranted scant opportunity for healing. How remarkable that he could say, “I have my down days, but haven’t been incapacitated by them.”

Of course, the role models you select don’t have to be famous. Unheralded heroes surround us, volunteering in hospitals, delivering meals to shut-ins, and tutoring underprivileged children.

Memorize inspiring sayings, even short poems. Repeat them while you are exercising or as you start your day.

Spend time reveling in the marvels of nature. Breathe the fresh air deeply, with appreciation for your lung capacity. Step outside at night to see the stars on a clear evening.

Maintain your motivation, and you’ll become far more winsome than job applicants who display long faces and sagging outlooks. They look like losers, and who wants to add a loser to the payroll?

James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Christopher Reeve, Still Me

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Bill Lampton’s article, “The Word ‘Can’t’ Wasn’t in His Vocabulary”

Bill Lampton’s article,“Quarterback Eagle Day Won Big in Sports and in Life”

Bill Lampton’s audio CD, “Maintaining Maximum Motivation: Strategies for Staying in High Gear!”

SIXTH STRATEGY: Understand How to Adapt Your Communication Style

Jane goes in for an initial interview with Marvin. Jane is the effervescent type, always upbeat, bubbly, and extroverted. She intends to win Marvin over with her witty comments. Unfortunately, Marvin prefers a communication style that is much more subdued. He is detail oriented, interest in financial reports and budgets. He considers small talk a waste of time. When Jane begins the conversation by telling him what fun she and her friends had on the weekend, Marvin wonders why she didn’t get to the point of the interview right away.

Situations like that happen all too often. Highly qualified candidates like Jane are unaware of the barriers they create by using a style that not only won’t work but backfires.

Is there a simple way to learn your preferred communication style, and then identify the style of another person quickly, so you can adjust your style to get the best results? Yes, it’s known as the DISC System of Personal Style Analysis.

DISC is an acronym for the four major communication styles:


By investing a very modest amount, and spending ten minutes of your time online completing a brief questionnaire (not a test, because there are no right or wrong answers), you will receive a 22 page printout that describes your style, and also advises you on how to adjust to individuals with different styles.

Some employers administer DISC to applicants, and then discuss the results with them.

Wouldn’t you like to be well versed in DISC before that happens, by completing the DISC survey form now?

Bill Lampton can administer DISC for you online, working through Target Training International. For additional details, e-mail Bill, titling your e-mail DISC Survey Form.
His e-mail:

SEVENTH STRATEGY: Improve Your Sales and Marketing Approach

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “I’m not in sales.” Oh, but you are. You are selling your potential service and value to someone you want to work with.

You are aware, I am sure, that sales and marketing have changed drastically in the last two decades, especially for a job search. Years ago, maybe you could get by with saying to your interviewer, “Tell me what this company is all about, please.” That’s inexcusable now. The Internet provides ample information, even displaying annual reports for many companies, who are glad to display them on their corporate Web sites.

Your job search will become more pleasant and more productive if you take advantage of the experts who are available to share their sales techniques. Here are some of them:

Seth Godin, Permission Marketing

Og Mandino, Greatest Salesman in the World

Terry Brock’s “Achievement Digest” newsletter and his Online Coaching program

Bill Lampton’s “Winning Words and Ways Newsletter.” Enter your name and e-mail address in the slots provided on his site’s home page:

Bill Lampton’s moderately priced year-round Online Coaching:

Bill Lampton’s audio CD, “How to Succeed in Sales!”

EIGHTH STRATEGY: Simulate Interviews, Videotape Them, and Critique Them

The camera doesn’t lie. The camera tells us when we frown too much, lose eye contact, get defensive when a question makes us uncomfortable, repeat nervous mannerisms and gestures until they become distracting, use a monotone pitch, and ramble from the point under discussion.

On the positive side, the camera tells us when we establish obvious rapport, demonstrate a commanding presence, look confident, talk proudly about our professional accomplishments, and smile regularly.

Be sure to arrange a simulated interview, with a person qualified to role play, and then a professional qualified to help you critique your performance, offering suggestions for creating a more convincing presence.

Bill Lampton can serve as your video evaluator, either in person in the Atlanta area or in your locale. Or he can coach you through videotape or using Skype video. To discuss an arrangement, call him at 678-316-4300 or e-mail him, titling your E-mail Bill’s Coaching:

NINTH STRATEGY: Network Creatively and Constantly

Networking could easily become your most powerful communication tool during your search. Why is networking so valuable? Because you can capitalize on the credibility others have created with decision makers.

Are you afraid to ask business leaders to refer you actively or be available to give an endorsement by phone? That’s not a realistic fear, because prominent citizens feel complimented by your request.

Really, networking may be the most enjoyable part of the job search, because you get to talk with outstanding achievers, and usually you sense they are genuinely interested in referring you.

Bob Burg, Endless Referrals, Third Edition

TENTH STRATEGY: Equip Yourself to Negotiate Salary During an Interview

Congratulations—by following the first nine strategies, you have reached the interview stage. What you do and say here will shape your salary and benefits for your entire time with this employer.

So what should you do when the interviewer offers you a job? Do you merely say “Thanks,” and accept whatever salary she offers? No, unless as the saying goes you want to leave a lot of money on the table. Not only do you have the right to discuss the salary offer, a potential employer will expect you to do that.

But how do you negotiate—without sounding greedy or demanding? You’ll be happy to know that a professional colleague of mine has the answers you need.

Watch Bill Lampton interview Dick Simmonds, a longtime Human Resources expert, on the topic “Negotiate That Job Offer.”

Dick Simmonds’ Web site:

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