9 Things to Avoid Doing After Being Let Go

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC),, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What’s one major NO you suggest people avoid when they learn they’re being let go?

1. Don’t Make a Scene
Take a deep breath and walk out of the office building (if you work in one) to compose yourself. Do not speak to anyone until you feel you can do so in a civil manner. Then, refrain from exhibiting any overt negativity until your last day. You never know when you might have to work with these people again, and you want to keep your reputation intact.
- Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work


2. Don’t Name Names

Every company, family and marriage has dirty laundry in its closet. Airing the dirty details of inner workings makes you look more like a scorned schoolchild and less like a valiant hero who is graciously stepping aside. Save the closed-door gossip, office politics stories and you-wouldn’t-believe-it moments for your friends over beers; even then, make sure you look around the bar first!
- Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak


3. Don’t Bash the Company

Things happen, and people get let go all the time. Make your departure a professional one; you never know when you might need a reference or even a job from an old employer.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance



4. Don’t Cry

That might sound harsh, but don’t let emotions get the better of you. A negative emotional reaction in the workplace never leads to a good thing. Put on a poker face, say your goodbyes and walk out.
- Anson Sowby, Rocket XL



5. Don’t Give Excuses

There’s no room for excuses or pointing fingers. Leave in such a way that they talk about your gracious exit just as much — or more — than the actual failure. Andrew Mason is definitely a great example of this.
- Shahzil (Shaz) Amin, Blue Track Media, LLC



6. Don’t Burn Bridges

No matter the circumstances around your firing, you don’t ever want to burn bridges. This is a matter of pride and common sense. Do everything in your power to ensure that you leave on the best possible terms.
- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services



7. Don’t React Immediately

Don’t react in the heat of the moment. Take a step back and make sure you’re composed before reacting. Losing your job is one thing; making it tougher to get a new one over a regrettable action is even worse.
- Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net



8. Don’t Forget About Your Remaining Teammates

On the day that you are fired, the company is still functioning, and your friends and former colleagues are still devoted to building their vision. You might even retain equity in that vision, especially if you are an executive or have spent considerable time on the team. Focus on protecting your friendships — and your investment — and be as encouraging as possible to the remaining team.
- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches


9. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak the Truth

While you need to be cautious about how you handle unpopular truths, you’ll have a little more freedom than normal when you’re walking out the door. You’ll most likely have exit interviews and an opportunity to discuss problems that you’ve seen. Be gracious about it, but don’t be afraid to tell the truth as you leave.
- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

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  • Paul Vinoski

    It really irks me, this “it’ll be alright” attitude! I am in the process of “losing my job” beginning several months ago. I went from $50k/yr to almost minimum wage and two jobs. In a good economy, if jobs were plentiful, I could be gracious and positive. However, this is not the case. While I’ve remained vigilant in my job search, nothing is forthcoming. Two jobs means I will have to quit school as well, or quit sleeping… So much for increasing my marketability.

    How can anyone face such devastation and potential loss with such a flippant attitude? Only the naive believe they can replace their income and stability tomorrow. Exit interview? Really? Why should anyone help a company that has just introduced their family to (increased) hardship?

    • S. West

      I’m in total agreement with you, Paul. My position with my employer was severed because of an administrative error on their part. To date, they’re still not owning up to THEIR mistake and because of it, I’ve lost all benefits, job stability, and moreover, INCOME!

    • Justin Khase

      My sentiments exactly. Exit interviews benefit noone except the company you’re leaving.

    • Richard

      I have to agree with you. I lost my job so upper management could cover up the failures of my boss. He was promoted and I lost my job because he was a great ass kisser and managed to push everything onto me. Even though I did not have the computer security to do the things I was suppose to have done. The regional vice president believed my boss when he said he must have left his computer on over the weekend and I messed up he computer. I was not in on the day in question, the badge swiping records who enters and leaves the area and his door locks automatically upon exiting and I never had a key to the room. I guess being a golfing partner is more important than the quality service awards I received with the company.

    • Kristle Pipgras


      I can certainly understand where you are coming from. I think it’s natural to have emotions and even be angry about being laid off or let go. I think the idea is about not allowing that to shine through in an undesirable way that could affect your career searching in the future. I don’t think anyone would be happy to be let go. Sometimes, you just have to deal. I think it’s more important to keep your dignity and the respect people may have for you than to ruin all of that in one moment of anger.

    • Jayme

      agreed! hard to stay positive. really it is, 2 minimum wage jobs is really difficult to pull off.

  • http://monster.com Paul K.

    I think I handled my termination graciously, however when I indicated to my former team leader that I didn’t feel I’d been trained enough on the equipment, he disagreed w/ me. Another thing is, I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get a positive reference from them.

  • Maureen Wilson

    I agree with each point and one mantra I always keep in mind – no matter what the situation – has always been “never burn a bridge, you never know when you’ll have to cross it again”. Another thought I keep in mind in a lot of lifes situations that really applies here is “never give away your dignity – some days that’s all you have”.

    • Toni

      You are so right. After I was terminated after 16 years (moved up several times and was provided with company relocation), I was quiet during the exit interview. Due to company policy, we were not able to retrieve personal belongings. I graciously made pleasant small talk with HR rep. My Director, who was also a personal friend, was very nasty to me during the exit interview. I was escorted off the property as ifi had been fired for stealing (they do this to all terminated employees, regardless of layoff or firing).

      Moved on and felt very positive about it. Still hold the values of the company in high regard. Glad that I’m out of there, but glad that former manager and co-workers still keep in contact.

      • ns

        I feel your pain. I think we worked together only I was let go months before you. Hope they stay in business so we can collect our pensions. If I were a betting man I would not bet on them staying in business because it looks like a 50/50. Whats going to be really tough is trying to put a kid through college on two part time jobs.

  • Joe Hala

    Very good suggestions, especially not burning bridges. I’ve had to let good people go based on business decisions rather than their own performance. Believe me, it’s agonizing to prepare for, then deliver that news. A managers job is to protect his team while realizing company goals. I have tried to help people find new positions and was willing to write recommendations. However, if someone starts making it personal, uses foul language or I find out they make unprofessional comments to remaining employees, they are on their own. When I found myself on the receiving end of losing my job, it was tough but I knew the proper way to handle the news.

    • Mike Dominguez


      I was laid of on 07/19/2013, when the owner of the small company called me into his office after just having laid-off another employee, I knew right away what it meant. Our company of 42 employees had been anticipating sales of $11,000,000 dollars and on the day that I was laid-off, we have sales of only $2,500,000,00 dollars.

      When the company owner showed me the letter showing that I was going to be laid-off, the first thing that I did was get up and shake his hand and say thank you for the wonderful 2 years and three months that I was at his company.

    • Justin Khase

      If you had to let good people go based on “business decisions” as your only criteria your selflessness is underwhelming.

  • http://www.jenkinsnj.com Tom Jenkins

    It is really awful to be let go or fired! It stays with you for a long, long time. It can make you angry. You need to remember that no one wants to hire an angry person, even if they have a good reason.
    The only way to get past the anger is to look for and embrace the good in what has happened. You need to find the good things and focus on them as you plan your search and as you interview. NEVER let anyone open you up in any part of the interview process. As hard as it is, you need to stay positive.
    Remember that the question of why you left your last employer is the second hardest question that you will have to answer.

    • Brittany A.

      I was asked to resign back in February from my company after working there over 4-1/2 years. What do you say during an interview when they ask why you left your last job?

      • Annie

        I guess it would depend on why you were asked to resign so that you can formulate an honest answer.

    • Joseph Props

      I have been displaced four time due to downsizing and company being sold. Always be gracious, as you never know what may happen. I actually hired a former supervisor I had at another company, oh how good it was to have the role reversal.

  • Debbie Wertz

    Sometimes, it really is just business. I’ve had to be in meetings when these tough decisions needed to be made. I even had to sit in one where I had to agree that it was in the company’s best interest to outsource, which meant me losing my job. When you leave a job gracefully, it is returned the same way. I have always received great references when I’ve been hit in a reduction in force which has helped me move forward in my career. The key is to think about the old saying that when a door closes another one is opened. The loss of a job may seem devastating at times, but when you look back, that push has actually helped you move forward.

  • T. Racine

    These are much easier done in most normal work conditions. I found it a struggle when I left due to a pernicious team that was required to meet with a shrink once a month. Part of that team sabotaged each other. The next promotion had me working with a tenured partner with anger mgmt issues the company knew about but swept under. His partner, my boss made a habit of calling me back from vacation yearly. When I refused to return from funeral leave and my evaluations went downhill I knew it was time to go-albeit with severance and a regret at having to move and losing many dear friends.
    Burning this was very easy, though difficult even though senior staff knew my leaving was wrong. I opted not to have several senior people speak out for me due my bitterness. I just saw this as a no win and despite bad references from them I don’t mind knowing I did well which their stats showed.

  • http://drdonsappliancerepair.webs.com Don Gross

    Good advice overall. Also, file for unemployment immediately and breathe a sigh of relief that now you have a lot of free time to do those things you couldn’t because of work!

    • James

      Great advice!!! …if you’re 21, no wife and kids, rent A room from a friend, and drive a $500 car.

  • Hector Ruiz III

    I was fired in 2011 after 5 months. I was rusty, made some stupid rookie mistakes and that was that. As a result what remained of my 401K was exhausted to keep our family home, anything worth more than $200 was sold and I had to file bankruptcy. Employers in this market can low-ball potential hires with perfect work history, so they dont give “damaged goods” a second glance. I’m now making what I did in 1995.

    At the actual termination, I said nothing. I was stunned, more freaked out than angry. I did everything you’re supposed to to make it quick and painless for my former employer.

    But I have a few pointers for people in the office where you get canned:
    1. Make eye contact as the person gathers their exit bag. You may be thrilled to see someone get fired, but they’re still human like you and you can acknowledge the often devastating event.
    2. You don’t have to say anything, but a subtle “Bummer, man” can greatly ease the pain of instantly going from team member to roadkill.
    3. If you’re the sole Accountant and the person being fired makes more than you do, don’t make bitter snarky remarks about that fact for weeks before the termination. You’ll have your victory, don’t be a sore winner.

  • Boaz Brown

    Very good comments it does help to read others thoughts about the issue. I was let go 5/3/13 and told to use my 3 week vacation time up while I try to find another job within the system and if I failed to land another job in 30 days I would be terminated from the company. I was put on a 30 day leave without pay after my vacation leave ran out. which really was a curse in disguise because it messed up my unemployment. They kept me on as leave without pay and I still have not drawn one single check from unemployment while try to straighten it out. I tried not to burn any bridges but I just don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone at the previous job right now. I go to great lengths to avoid anyone on the previous job. Its almost like i’m embarrassed and just want to move on and not have to deal with them again at least until I am able to get a better job or when I am doing better than I am right.

  • http://Monster Dennis Rule

    One topic that is not addressed in this article is the suspicion that an employee is released due to age but you can not prove it.

    No recourse is offered.

    Otherwise, this article is good.

  • Jamie Martinez

    I find all 9 pointers here valid. One needs to be reminded about these every now and then. I was not blind sighted when it happened, so no trauma, but now after 28 years with the company and a year and 6 months after looking for employment I have become resentfull. The problem in my case is that the owner and I were too close. It’s a hard line to draw between friendship and being professional. I am now starting to get call backs on my job search which I do consistently on the net. One thing that is guaranteed in life is that changes.

    Thanks Monster!

  • Mike

    “Don’t make a scene?” “Don’t cry?” “Don’t name names?” Why not add? “Just be an android.” “Don’t take it personally.” “Just let things be mysterious.” Because, you know, somehow when a PERSON is let go without notice or “adequate reason” after years of hard work, it is somehow not PERSONal, it is a “business” decision. OR, don’t name names even if your career has been derailed by the unfortunate fact of having a sociopath as a boss (and no, it is not an exaggeration, as 1 in 25 people are sociopaths), and don’t name names even if that one bad seed can actually ruin your teammates’ and the company’s future. I don’t know how to put this politely, but I will be blunt: this is the dumbest article I have read by far about things to avoid after being laid off. I cannot believe the people giving advice actually have jobs. What happened to hiring smart, competent people to provide advice as opposed to inane, parroted, nonsense?

  • Chuba

    8. Don’t Forget About Your Remaining Teammates

    If I’m not working there anymore, how are they my “teammates”?

    • Annie

      They may no longer be your teammates. However, they could be good references or a source of assistance in finding a new job opportunity. This goes hand in hand with not burning bridges.

  • Bill Hunt

    I was let go after eleven great years. This article is full of great advice. If you are let go, view it as their loss and your gain. They are losing your talent and experience and you are about to go find something much better! There are only a few things in this world that you have any control over and one of them is your attitude. Don’t let your former company impact your attitude – stay positive. Keep reminding yourself that you are going to find something much better than your last job. Take the opportunity to get in shape and sharpen your skills. Go do something you always wanted to do. When you do find that next job, keep your resume current and never stop networking.

    • Laura Garza

      I agree Bill. Both my boss and my positions were recently eliminated in June 2013. Fortunately, the decision-makers realized all that I did and they have kept me on for 3 more months to transition certain responsibilities. I am a solo mom with no other income, and I have had this job over 5 years working my way up from an admin assistant to marketing associate. During this time of transition, I started reaching out to all my co-workers and everyone else I have helped all these years letting them know the situation and if they knew if anything that I might be a good fit for. It was great to have an opportunity to network as well as get the projects that I worked on in order for them. Yes it will be difficult to say good bye, just as difficult not understanding why they decided to let me go when there is clearly a need and a gap that I was covering. It is also a great time to reflect on my life, decide if I want to go back to school, start my own business, freelance, etc. Honestly, I feel very positive and that they might have done me a favor, despite the financial hardships. I am glad to be leaving with the knowledge that I and the service I provided to my fellow associates will be missed but that they also might know of a company or position elsewhere that might need someone like me. Focusing on the positive, will help you move ahead.

  • Bob Hoggatt

    I lost my job in July, 2013, too, after 8+ years with the company. I saw it coming, and had started making plans before it happened. I really couldn’t do much to stop it.
    When contacted by former distributor reps, customers, and co-workers, I simply said it was like any long term relationship. The company changed over the years, as did I, and it just wasn’t a good fit for either party anymore.
    I agree, never bash the company as you leave. It will accomplish nothing.

  • SkylerQ

    I forced myself to take the high road for the last three months on the job knowing I was being let go once the school year ended. It was painful, because my principal made me feel like I was a crappy teacher. But my students loved me and I busted my ass to give them the best possible education. After test scores were revealed in the fall and my kids did really well, my principal must have realized he’d been wrong about me. He ended up being a good reference when my current school called him, but what a tough experience.

  • Glenda Sutton

    I agree with all the advice above – excellent. But I just wondered if any of them had to face actually being fired. It is utterly gut-wrenching, particularly when you were an over-achiever who tried to be the best at what you did and always tried to perform well. It is hard to not have tears or to maintain dignity when suddenly you are wondering if you are going to have a place to live or provide for the family. It is hard when you are over 50 and all the hiring firms want young and cheap, not experience. There is a lot of emotion and depression that can occur, but the thing about time is that circumstances always change somehow, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. It is true about doors closing and opening. That doesn’t happen on out timetable, but it does happen.

  • http://Monster Gary Pingree

    I was terminated after I filed for Workers Comp after splitting my skull open to the tune of 4 staples and a mild concussion.(is there such a thing?)I never missed a day of work and never thought about taking time off or suing the company. Yet when I filed the WC case to get my emergency room bill paid they let me go saying some minor mistake I made 3 weeks ago was the reason. This is retail management. No notice. You people who got a notice don’t know how lucky you are. Retail never pays well so I was devastated at the time they told me. I was in shock, but I kept my cool and composure and walked out with my head up. I live alone and pay all my bills with not much in savings (gone now), no 401k (never was), and no car. This city is too expensive. Every time I answer why I left my last job I can see it in their eyes. I try to look on the bright side but when my federal extension runs out I’m homeless. I have no family to help me. Plus I’ll be 60 years old in September. Happy Birthday old man, welcome to the streets!!

    • Sheri

      I feel your pain Gary. Although you must follow through with a case against them as (if you are in California) they by law can not fire you while a workmans comp claim is being investigated. It’s unfortunate that CA is a “right to work state” by not having to have a reason for termination I think is ludricus! I think with the the state that our state is in today, an employer must be held accountable for causing an otherwise upstanding employee to lose everything they have worked for. An Employer should have to show good cause by means of previous documentation, and paperwork trail of verbal, and written warning for the reasons of termination. And further more unemployment should not have a time limit except for years on the job period. If you worked for 45 years of your life you should be entitled to be able to collect on at least half of that time. Good Luck Mr. Gary I hope you find gainful employment soon and please file a case against them. Is it worth you being homeless yes….they that company is in the wrong.

  • http://Monster.com Brian

    I was laid off around three years ago, have applied for numerous positions with other companies, have scored several interviews, and have even received a couple of job offers, but nothing I know I would be happy with. Perhaps I’m just being paranoid, but my performance reviews were always excellent, and I felt as if I was a good fit for my job. Granted, the free time is great, but the situation is scary!

  • LMM

    Don’t cry? Putting on my poker face is the hardest thing. I’m a woman with depression who already suffers from low self-esteem and anxiety in the work place. At the very least, I have to exit the building or go find a bathroom. But I will break down.

  • Heather

    When I was let go last year, I was allowed time to clean out my office. I took the time to clean up loose ends and organize things in a way that whoever would be taking over could easily pick up. On my way out, I shook the hand of the person who just let me go and thanked her for the opportunity. She ended up paying me for the rest of the week, even though I was let go on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

  • Jeff Mascoe

    I was let go for all the wrong reasons, on unemployment and been there awhile. I was let go to pad the bottom line and save money paying me benefits. I live in a smaller town in a bad economy. I could not be cool, I was VERY angry because I knew why I was let go. I was approached by another manager and I told her I knew why I was fired. She LIED to me so why should I go back? I was emotional but civil to her. I did let her know it was wrong and all she did was defend him. I was really treated poorly. I really like to know what she says when employers call. Do I bash the company? No not really but if an employer wants the truth they get honesty. I don’t know how you could not react when your being escorted out of the building, I can’t return there to see my friends. I could not be cool as they say. I am glad I’m not there anymore. I have a business and want a CAREER. I hope I can make it but I am trying to keep a good outlook with my Bachelors, two specialist degrees and my God by my side.

  • Gabriel

    So I was laid off in Feb. Everyone was very supportive from the company I was let go from. Vendors and customers alike have been allowing me to work as a contractor doing what I was doing before but for myself. I will soon officially own a company and begin hiring people. Had I left in a raging torrent that could never had been possible. Getting let go sucks but in the end it’ll make you better if you let it. When I was younger I got laid off and rehired all the time. Some industries are just like that. Adapt and overcome.

  • Sheri

    I was let go from a company after 12 years of blood, sweat, and tears i dedicated my everything to. I gave up holidays, family birthday celebrations, week-ends, and never took a vacation. It is defintely a blow to the system, when you wake up the next day and can’t understand why you are unable to function. It literally took me a week to complete my unemployment applicaion. Not only was I let go from a company that practically functioned around me, but for an honest mistake. Never written up, never verbally warned, never thought in a million years it could happen to me. But I must say after all was said and done it was somewhat comforting to hear they had 3 people doing just one part of the many job duties I was responsible for, not to mention they had regret letting me go as they did not realize until after the fact the work and the duties in which I handled on a daily basis. The impact of loss was felt as far up as upper management and corporate. All that aside it isn’t enough to measure up to the hardship in which it put me in. I just want to pass on….no matter how long you have been employed by a company, no matter how much dedication and effort you think you have contibuted by doing your part to make the company succeed and run smooth…NEVER NEVER think you are above being dismissed or are in-despensable at any time.

  • Doug

    Do all of the above. Get a new job and then give the responsible party/parties a call and tell them how you feel. Usually kiss my ass is a good one. Something that ends with ‘OFF’ can make you feel good too. Only do this if you really got screwed. Been there.

  • Robin

    I have to agree, when they want you out, they either dig deep until they find something that can be twisted to get you out. Or they make your life has miserable has possible so you quit. However, with that said, remaining in the same industry, you may see the same people, in the field.
    Walking out with your head held high shows your strength. At the same time you have to figure out what to do next. Think about your strengths at work, and understand where you were weak in. Yes we all have weaknesses. Work on fixing the weak spots, redo your resume, and don’t forget to remember that we have all had adversity in our lives, draw on those skills that helped you get through that time.
    Re-evaluate your skills. remember it is only a job, do not let that become your life.

  • crystal.monkeymom

    Am I the only person in a “warm body filled chair” that was let go who actually listed current customers needing follow-up in my email and tried to tie up loose ends, only to be ignored mostly during the exit interview while waiting for my supervisor to collect my 3 things from my cubicle? I wasn’t mad, I knew I had been 3 minutes late, and knew the policy. I just realised it was not a good fit for me when I took public transit and lived one and a half hour’s journey by train away from work. SO – here’s some advice to companies firing their employees- if an employee takes the time to organise what needs attention from their desk and presents it to you before leaving the building, particularly concerning clients and customers, DON’T treat that employee like dogs**t on your shoe. especially if they were only 3 minutes late, not half a day late.