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Fired? Here are Seven Factors That Get You Rehired Quickly.

Last month I received my first termination letter since transitioning from the Army in 2018. It was my second job since retiring. My first lasted 14 months before I decided it was not a great fit. I wrote about that in my book, so I won’t go into details here. My second, however, was as a data scientist supporting Army Cyber capabilities. It was a great gig working with great people. All was going well until I went from thinking my position would last another five years to unexpectantly having to clear my desk. Fortunately, seven factors allowed me to quickly move from fired to hired, Better yet, my new job offered a slight pay raise, comparable benefits, and more vacation time. I even enjoyed a little personal time in the gap between jobs.

Let me begin by saying that no one really has this figured out. If someone tells you they do, they’re probably lying–especially if they tell you their techniques work for anyone. There is certainly a level of preparation that goes into closing the gap, and I will get to those soon. However, there is also timing to consider along with some luck or blessing, depending on where you place your faith. Personally, I choose to trust that God has ultimate control, and God is good all the time! But, even God makes the birds leave their nests to find dinner!

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The Termination Letter

A few months before my termination, my company learned it lost its bid for a follow-on contract. Hence, my colleagues and I suspected we’d soon be wearing a new company logo. We at least thought we would keep our positions. Unfortunately and as fate would have it, other external factors came into play, including budget cuts, that resulted in 75% of the workforce being terminated, and a month earlier than expected. That’s the contract life.

Generally speaking, termination letters are coldly impersonal. Mine read (using my deep voice), “This letter is to inform you that effective DATE your employment with COMPANY will be terminated due to contract end/business-related layoff.” It reminded me of an email I received from Georgia Tech when I first failed their Ph.D. Preliminary Examination. My email ended by stating, “If this was your third attempt at passing the Ph.D. Preliminary Exam, please prepare to conclude your affairs at Georgia Tech.” Fortunately, I passed on my second attempt–whew! 

With my letter in hand, career move number three was upon me and earlier than expected. Yet, as I mentioned above, I still came out ahead. I even enjoyed a short break before starting my new job. Nonetheless, multiple factors made that outcome possible. Let’s break them down now.

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Eliminate Your Gap Between Career Transitions

  1. Keep your resume updated. Whether you network or apply for posted positions, your resume needs to check all the right boxes. Otherwise, hiring managers will move to other candidates. So make updating your resume with new experiences and skills a priority. That way it is ready when your job is terminated unexpectedly or you learn you’re not getting picked up for the next contract.  
  2. Keep your certifications current. When interviewing with hiring managers, one of the first questions they asked me was whether my certifications were active. Too many people earn certifications only to let them lapse due to a lack of continuing education or failing to pay maintenance fees. Expired certifications don’t count.  
  3. Use job and resume posting sites. During my search, I posted my resume to ClearedJobs and Indeed. I also used LinkedIn’s Job Search tools. LinkedIn and ClearedJobs were probably my two greatest lead generators for careers in fields that interested me. Thankfully, I received a lot of interest, and I soon started building a list of potential opportunities.  
  4. Leverage your network. The bottom line here is no one can help you find a job if they don’t know you are looking. A couple of months before my termination, I began reaching out to contacts who worked in areas that interested me. The response was wonderful and very encouraging. The job I ended up accepting was the result of one of those contacts reaching out to their hiring manager and saying, “Hey. We want this guy.”
  5. Be an asset.  Reaching out to your contacts does little good if they don’t remember you as a solid asset to the team. You have to realize that vouching for you puts their judgment and credibility on the line. To be an asset, a bit of wisdom from the Bible I find helpful comes from Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.” Call it what you will, but when you do the right things for the right reasons, and you add value, people want to work with you again! 
  6. Don’t stop learning. Why do you need to keep your resume updated? Why are you an asset? It’s because you are continually learning and growing through education and experience. I frequently update LinkedIn, my online resume, with new certifications, skills, and experiences that are relevant to my market. Essentially, it shows hiring managers you are staying relevant. Even during my brief unemployment, I continued working on an online data science class, amongst other things. 
  7. Maintain a financial runway. Having a financial runway is having enough savings or cash-flowing assets to carry you while unemployed, preferably for months or years. It also gives you breathing room when considering your next career move rather than allowing financial pressure to push you into something less favorable. It allows you to take the time needed to polish a skillset, entertain more offers, and make a decision that is best for you.

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Wrapping Up

I cannot over-emphasize the need for a financial runway. Without one, you may not just find yourself desperate for a new job but to hold on to your home as well. Fortunately, if you can live off less than you earn and invest the rest, a financial runway is accomplishable. If you are in your 20s and reading this, congratulations. Time is on your side, and you could also obtain financial freedom by the time you are my age–perhaps earlier. If you are starting to show some gray, you can still build a financial runway, but financial freedom will require a substantial commitment.

If you would like to learn more about creating a financial runway and obtaining financial freedom, a few books you might try. Besides mine, there are Set For Life by S. Trench,  The Simple Path to Wealth by J. Collins et al., and Your Money or Your Life by V. Robin et al.

Photo by Jonathan Letniak on Unsplash

These are the factors that most contributed to my short-term unemployment. You may wonder how I spent my time. If so, well, I visited with my in-laws, installed an oven, worked on my website, and completed some online courses. I even managed to complete a purchase agreement for a new investment property, another area where having a financial runway helps. I close next week. Lastly, it gave me a little time to give back, so I volunteered for a church event, and I gave a career day talk at a local high school. Sometimes you need a little time to get ahead.  

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. If you had to leave your job for another, what steps did you take to control or shorten your unemployment? Which factors do you think are most useful? Did you have a financial runway or rely on some of the other factors I mentioned? Did you take advantage of your time away from work? 

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2 Comments

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