I Got Fired Because I Made A Huge Mistake. What Now?
By Rho Lall
There's an urban legend about a young executive sitting in Tom Watson Jr's office just waiting to be fired.
The year is 1968. The exec works at IBM. His boss is Tom Watson Jr, a leader of the information revolution. The issue at hand, a series of mistakes costing several million dollars. These mistakes led to him sitting across from Watson waiting for summary dismissal.
"I suppose after that set of mistakes you will be wanting to fire me."
Watson's response is now part of MBA cannon/lore:
"Not at all young man, we have just spent a couple of million dollars educating you."
Remember that the next time you make a mistake at work. But even if they fired you, the moral is to learn the lessons.
8 Lessons Leaned When I Lost My Job Because I Made A Huge Mistake.
1. A lot of people get fired. Don't feel bad.
2. Verify what legally happened. Employers will "lay off" employees to limit risk of wrongful terminations suits. It is also a pain in the ass that requires a lot of documents. If it comes up during the interview keep your answer brief and to the point: "I worked at (that employer) for X years. I was responsible for . . ."
3. Ask for a letter of recommendation. It can hurt your pride, but not much else. A letter of recommendation makes calling for references unnecessary. If not from your supervisor, you can get them from other people in the company.
4. Never lie to a prospective employer.
5. With respect to Unemployment Insurance Benefits, do your homework. Rules and/or how they are carried out varies state to state.
6. Don't be a victim. It takes two to tango. If your side of the story is a version of "It's all their fault", you are only fooling yourself. Advocate for yourself, by avoid blaming, and be objective.
7. Learn from the experience. Take time for yourself to write down what you have learned from the experience. Share (even if it is only with yourself) the wisdom about yourself and your abilities that you have gained from this experience.
8. Remember, you are not Justine Sacco.
Justine Sacco used to work as the PR Director for InterActiveCorp (IAC). In 2013 she tweeted to a following of under 200 people,
Then she boarded her flight and turned off her phone for the eleven hour flight. When she turned it back on there was a message from her friend, "You need to call me right now! You are the number one world wide trending topic on twitter."
Jon Ronson does a fantastic job of telling her story:
Ronson doesn't finish the story. The story ends where it begun with the Gawker editor who first published Sacco's tweet, Sam Biddle:
Justine Sacco has a PR job she enjoys now, but she deserves the best and biggest PR job, whatever that may be. Give it all to her. Justine Sacco is the most qualified person in her entire field. She has the expertise of ten lifetimes when it comes to dealing with bad press. She survived a genuine personal crisis. She's unkillable, and smart, and she will tell you to shut up, idiot, it can't get any worse.
Learn from Justine. Learn from the experience.
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