Fired Employees: Four Solutions For Helping Them Transition


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Mary has always dreaded a day like today. It’s unpleasant enough to be attached to a fired employee, but when it’s someone who excels in their position, it can be a heartbreaking challenge to let them go. The loss of the team member combined with the possible morale drop after the layoff weighs heavily on Mary’s mind.

It’s a somber time with a lot of confusion when an employee is laid off. However, just because the fired employee is no longer part of the company, that doesn’t mean managers can’t help advance their career. Particularly, if the employee was a valued member of the team and not at fault.

The impact of losing a job and the resources the newly displaced employee will require to find new employment tends to vary by age. Older workers typically aren’t as social media savvy as the younger generations, which is where a large number of 18 to 34-year-olds do their networking and job searching. Older workers without expansive networks are at a disadvantage.

In fact, in 2016, Gallup’s U.S. Workers Regain Faith in Finding Good Job if Laid Off study found that although 15 percent of respondents said they expect to lose their jobs in a layoff, they’re optimistic they won’t be out of a job for long. Age differences clearly affect that belief since 73 percent of 18 to 34-year-old workers were optimistic about new jobs as opposed to only 51 percent of workers aged 55 and older.

A LinkedIn survey on how jobs are filled shows why managers are so imperative to helping workers, especially if they’re older, find a job. The survey discovered 85 percent of all jobs are satisfied through networking. Therefore, employers would have to place an extra effort on using their own networks and providing more resources to help older workers in this digital age.  

Besides the challenges of networking, there are a number of other obstacles a severed employee will face. So, if you’re like Mary and you want to help an employee you inevitably must let go succeed on the job search, here are four ways to smooth their transition:

1. Recommend the employee for another job

There’s no better way to sell the services of a fired employee than “word of mouth.” Whether it’s within an extension of your own company or someone in your network, offer praises to hiring managers with open positions.

Helping an employee find a job helps you in two different ways: one, it ensures they transition well, and two, it keeps positive morale within the company.

When it comes to the recommendation, you shouldn’t be shy about it. You should not only describe the job skills that make them a perfect fit, but also the positive personality traits that make the employee such a joy to work with. You should explain why you hired them, why you enjoyed being their manager, and any growth potential you saw.

2. Provide coaching for resumes, cover letters, and interviews

Employees who haven’t been unemployed in a while may not always have their finger on all the current changes of the job market. There’s a solid chance they’re going to need assistance getting back into the game.

You can start by coaching them on how to tweak their resume and cover letter. Offer to review the job descriptions they’re applying for and give them advice on how to make their covers letters and resumes unique given the present standards.

Mock interviews are also an excellent way to help boost their confidence and remind them of interview etiquette. In the event a severed employee is applying for a position that requires a skill they don’t have yet, you can offer them some immediate, in-house training, or recommend free or affordable resources to update certifications.

3. Offer counseling for fired employees and their families

A lost job will not only be a shock to the employee, it will be a shock to their family, too. Employees who were doing well prior to being laid off are likely battling extreme frustration and struggling to deal with the emotions of their employment loss. Also, financial struggles are likely if it takes too long for the fired employee to find a job.

A great way to assist in the transition phase is offering both financial and emotional counseling for employees and their families. Don’t simply suggest counseling, make it readily available to them (and all employees) by having a list of recommended experts who have counseled through similar situations.

4. Be understanding with PTO during the transition

You should be aware of the fired employee’s emotional state if layoffs are coming and they know time is limited. They will likely need a day or two to process everything that’s happening at work. They will also need time to edit their resumes/cover letters and go out on interviews.

You should try to be as helpful and understanding as possible. If they have PTO, try your best to let them take it to work toward securing other employment. If PTO is not available, be flexible with their current schedule so they can prepare for the transition.

What tips do you have to help a fired employee transition into their new career? Let us know!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.