So You’ve Been Fired… Now What?: How to Get Back in the Game

Experts prep job seekers with tips on re-entering the applicant pool

As if losing your job wasn’t a big enough detour. Now, you have to enter the job market—something you haven’t done in years (possibly decades). You are one of 14.8 million Americans gunning for an opportunity to be employed. With the rise in job search sites and online social networking platforms, trust, the job market is not what it used to be. No worries, we’ve got you covered.

As part of our continuing series, So You’ve Been Fired… Now What?, spoke with reinvention strategist and founder of ME Unlimited Marshawn Evans, CEO of Full Circle NY Karen Nethersole, Esq. and psychologist and professional life coach Dr. Pamela Thompson on ways to mentally prepare for the rebound, scoring points on personal branding and creating a winning resume and cover letter. Here are their tips.

Get Your Head in the Game

Being laid off or fired takes an emotional toll on a person, but don’t let it keep you down. Persevere through the emotional upheaval and use your new-found free time wisely suggests faith-based, clinical psychologist Dr. Thompson.  She recommends reflecting on previous job experiences and noting where improvement is needed. “Take stock of past conflicts on your job or review the kind of criticisms that you used to receive at work so you can again take that to heart and be ready to re-enter with a new mindset,” says Thompson. Also, recalling times when you’ve triumphed over hardships serve as a reminder that you can make it through this bump in the road. Last, and certainly not least, adopt a thankful attitude.  The life coach notes the biblical passage: “Be thankful in all things.”  So despite your current state of unemployment, dust yourself off and remember there’s still a lot of reasons to be grateful.

Establish Your Personal Brand

No matter the platform—LinkedIn, resume or face-to-face encounters—your brand should stand firm with no inconsistencies.  Really think about your brand. Creating a list of skills or even channeling a song you feel captures who you are will help when brainstorming your brand. Your brand should address: who you are, what you do, what you’re known for and what you’re known by. “When you formulate your brand, then you’re able to promote that brand,” says Nethersole. “You have to have a consistent brand for it to be a believable brand.”

Although having a presence online is important, you don’t have to spread yourself thin setting up accounts with every social networking site. Instead, choose methodically. “Professionally, starting with LinkedIn makes more sense than starting with Facebook,” says Evans.  “Also, set up, professionally, profiles on mega-job search sites with job search companies like Monster and Career Builder.”

Create a Slam-Dunk-Worthy Resume

“Wording is key,” says Nethersole. “Now that we’re on the social sites and a lot of companies and HR within those companies are using automated systems that pick up words, key words are essential.” Make sure you are familiar with the job in which you are applying so you can infuse some of the key words used in the job posting in your resume. Including active verbs is vital; without them you risk having your resume discarded.

Secondly, don’t get caught up on the dates. Instead, emphasize what you did during the duration of your employment at a specific company. Be sure to highlights big accomplishments that benefitted the company thanks to your hard work as well as your day-to-day duties.

Third, having several versions of your resume handy is advised. When filling in your resume, you might have to alter certain aspects of your resume to highlight the skill set that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for at the time. Hiring companies can usually tell when you’ve sent them a generic resume.

Cover All the Bases with Your Cover letter

Although reviewing a cover letter template is a good start, you need to make sure you are not turning in a standardized letter to each prospective employer. Employers can tell when you’ve taken the time to research the company because it’s reflected in your cover letter. Utilize those active verbs here as well.

Ace the Interview

You can’t fit everything on your resume so now is the time to elaborate on what you can contribute. “In your interview, you need to be very proactive in understanding how to communicate the value that you bring to the table, but also the value of what you’ve learned in your experiences in the past and how it’s relevant to this place,” says Evans.

For more resources on job searching, read

20 Responses to So You’ve Been Fired… Now What?: How to Get Back in the Game

  1. Obi Okere says:

    To add to Nethersole comment about highlighting big accomplishments, one should always translate their accomplishments to a dollar amount the company saved or earned. For example, if your work has saved the company 100 man hours at an hourly rate of $20 per hour, the result is a savings of 2000 hours.

  2. Great article! Job seekers should make considerable note of the valuable advice given by Marshawn Evans, Karen Nethersole and Dr. Pamela Thompson. If I may, I’d also like to encourage job seekers to assess their current strengths and weaknesses to uncover future opportunities and threats (also known as a S.W.O.T. Analysis). By exploring what they do exceptionally well (strengths), what areas need improving (weaknesses), what emerging trends can be capitalized on (opportunities) and what limitations make them vulnerable (threats), they can gain a better focus on what careers they want and which passions they wish to pursue while thwarting the feelings of irrelevancy and grief that often accompany job loss/downsizing.
    Shaunice Hawkins, Author of Passion…Who Needs It? A Practical, Action-Oriented Exploration of Passion and Purpose, and Steps You Can Take If Your Inner Fire Has Burned Itself Out (

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  4. Renee Jackson says:

    The book Passion. . .Who Needs It? SELF published by Shaunice Hawkins and not approved by any authority. It lacks substance and the content throughout is poor.

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  6. Larry Jennings says:

    This article cuts right to the chase in a clear, concise way. I love the part about the need for introspection. Too often when we are hurt, we play the victim and focus outward. While external factors such as politics and racism may play a major role in losing a job, every loss presents an opportunity to learn and grow. Thanks for sharing Karen!

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  9. RL says:

    As my long job search odyssey continues, I did switch my approach a little bit. While I’ve decreased my networking with in-transition HR people (same faces, same stories), I’ve increased my networking with “book of business” people (e.g., attorneys and salespeople). While I now cannot afford to attend events where there is a fee, I am now volunteering to help set up or clean up at these paid events for free admission. It works sometimes. I’ve recontacted (and continue to stay in touch with) my closest “first level” contacts to stay on their radar screens. Fortunately, they are not sick and tired of hearing from me! A few months ago, I ran for and got elected to my Alumni Association Board. I am recruiting guest speakers and corporate hosts for Alumni Association programs and events and of course, meeting alums along the way. I continue to help other job seekers with their job searches. What goes around comes around.

    Reading the market, I put my old shingle out again. As a result of networking/selling, I landed a few part time recruiting/HR gigs. I just picked up a quick two day project yesterday. It’s not much, but it keeps me a little positively distracted from the search, helps me keep my sanity and skills sharp, helped pay a few bills and helps keep peace at home. This is also good stuff to talk about in an interview when I’m asked by the company recruiting coordinator what I’ve been doing all this time.

    The market has picked up, but not at the senior/more experienced/older level. I have had a few interviews–most no go, and some never heard back and can’t get feedback despite follow-up. A few recent war stories—I was told by a search guy representing a major financial services company that I was too old for this company and was told by a VPHR of a major consumer products company that I am a threat to senior HR people. Some goofy, but real stuff. That’s my story so far. I’m thinking of writing a book and going on Oprah! The glass is still half full.

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