When I got a pink slip back in 2003, along with 200 or so other Dow Jones employees, I had three months notice about my layoff. During that time, I focused almost exclusively on going out with a bang, creating great TV segments, and producing the highest quality journalism that I could.
In retrospect, all that extra effort I threw into my work was a big mistake. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that I ended on a high note and maintained my professionalism.
But instead of going into overdrive with my workload and stepping up my performance—which had already been praised and rewarded by my superiors for 10 years—I should have focused more on me, and on better planning my transition.
Specifically I should have taken more time to get everything I could—literally—out of my workplace and its environment before I left the job. And if you get fired, you should do the same.
What should you try to get? Perhaps names and contact information of industry professionals you’ve met that you can download, files that you may need to copy, or information that could be pertinent or relevant to you in your next job or in your career going forward. The goal is get resources, information and any connections that potentially can help you in the long run.
By no stretch of the imagination am I saying that you should steal anything from the workplace or take anything that doesn’t belong to you. What I am suggesting, though, is that you immediately retrieve copies of your own work and helpful resources.
It may be business or job-related books the company supplied you with personally, performance review records, or even emails that you can forward to yourself that are indicative of praise or laudatory comments that you received from your bosses or others. Do take all that information with you. It will come in handy later as reference material when you beef up your resume or explain to prospective employers your specific accomplishments.
Obviously, though, this step is only possible if you have the time gather up relevant data, and you’re not immediately escorted to the door upon termination. So if you’re smart, and you still have a job, it’s a good move to start accumulating this info now—just in case.