A man in a suit with halloween demon horns and pitchfork, holding a sign that says "FIRED"

Have you just been Terminated? Here’s how to transition with a lot less stress while achieving the best possible outcome.

You have just received the news that you are being terminated. What do you do now? Should you sign the severance and release agreement presented to you? Find out what steps you should take…

The news that you are being terminated can come as a shock. Most people don’t anticipate that they are going to lose their jobs, especially when they hold higher profile executive positions in their companies.

Whether you are being terminated as a result of a bad decision you made (it happens), a strategic move by the company that eliminates your position, or possibly without cause, it is important to remember that you will get through this.

While the topic of being fired is still considered taboo by many, it is quite common. People are let go from their jobs every day for a myriad of reasons. Yet, it is still something no one wants to talk about.

Of course, there will be ups and downs on the road ahead for a while and there are a few steps to take now that will make your experience easier to navigate and put behind you.

How to Mitigate the Stress of Being Terminated

Be Gracious With Yourself

When an individual is terminated from a job, especially as an executive, the response is often to put up an apathetic front.

There are a lot of emotions that come with the loss of employment; some feel ashamed, angry, and embarrassed one moment and may feel relief or hope for their future the next. It is normal to experience fluctuations in emotions and moods.

Allow yourself to process the situation and emotions that come along with it. Try to see yourself from an outside perspective. Give yourself the same grace you would a friend or family member who shared their news with you.

We are often much harsher with ourselves than with our loved ones. If you take the advice you would give someone else, you will likely be able to better manage your mental health throughout this time, and that is equally as important as anything else you can do.

You don’t have to face a termination alone. You can ask for support from your close friends and family; lean on them if you need to. Don’t feel like you should hide the news from a spouse or partner if you have one; your loved ones want to be there when you need them.

If you want (or need) to, you can add professional counseling or therapy services to your support system. This is a difficult time for many people and trained professionals can offer insight and guidance to help you worth through being terminated.

Taking care of your emotional and mental health is crucial to being able to move forward and onto the next chapter of your professional life.

Ask the Important Questions

Once the dust settles, many people walk away from being fired with the belief that it was a learning experience which provided some valuable lessons.

Asking your employer some tough, but valid, questions is key to taking what you can from this experience.

You will want to find out why the decision was made to terminate you and if the company would be willing to provide you with any references or recommendations for future job opportunities, either internally or externally. Write out a factual list of your accomplishments, with the goal of transforming it into a letter of reference that can be signed by a supervisor or officer of the company who was a champion for you.

Negotiating the Terms of Your Severance (If Applicable)

Some situations won’t warrant a severance offer being made. However, if your employer has a contractual obligation (which is often the case for executives), lays you off, or the termination is due to the business heading in a direction that doesn’t include you, you may very well be receiving a severance offer.

This process can understandably feel overwhelming; the timing is (essentially) never ideal. Most people don’t expect they will be terminated, let alone be in a position to negotiate the terms of their short-term financial security.

Having a potentially thick document package handed to you, riddled with legal terms and provisions you may not understand, can make things all the more confusing and stressful.

It is highly recommended that you hold off on signing anything before having the chance to consult with an employment attorney. While your initial instinct may be to just ‘sign and get it over with’, you may be giving up important legal rights and potential claims. In addition, in my experience, more often than not, a company’s initial severance offer is not its best and final one, either.

An experienced employment attorney will be able to help you navigate the offer and ensure you are leveraging any opportunities to negotiate better terms and even higher pay outs.


If you focus on a few key things, you may be able to walk away from a termination with a positive outlook for the future.

It is never ideal to lose your job, but if you contact me, I’ll help to ensure you get the most out of any potential severance package, allowing you to get a fresh start and find success elsewhere.