Surviving the sack

Getting fired from your job can be a major blow and a hard one to overcome. Once the initial shock has worn off, here’s how to deal with being sacked.

Being fired

The finger? Seriously?

Have you been unfairly dismissed?

Firstly, ask yourself if you’ve been fired legally. Unfair dismissal includes:

If you think you’ve been dismissed unfairly and want to make a complaint you must act quickly, as there’s a three-month time limit for taking your employer to an employment tribunal.

However, if you’ve done any of the following, your boss may have a fair reason to fire you:

  • If you’ve broken your work’s rules of conduct
  • Stolen things from the company
  • Lied outrageously on your CV
  • Or you haven’t been doing your job properly

What should I do if I’ve been fired?

Firstly, ask for a written explanation. You’re entitled to a written statement explaining why you’ve been dismissed if you’ve worked there for at least a year, or you’re under a fixed-term contract that has expired, or you’ve been dismissed while pregnant or on maternity or adoption leave.

Try to come to an agreement with your employer if you promise to improve your performance. They might give you one last chance. If you belong to a union explain your situation – they might be able to negotiate on your behalf.

And if none of these work, here’s what you should do.

  • Try grovelling. Admit that you made mistakes and learn from the experience
  • Sign on. Get down to the Jobcentre as soon as possible and register as unemployed
  • Keep your P45 as your next employer will need it to sort your pay and tax
  • Don’t, however upset you are, seek revenge as it’s likely to backfire. Above all, you might need a reference

Going for another job after being fired

Should I lie?

It’s tempting to lie about it when you’re filling in application forms, but it’s not wise. Outright lies are often uncovered and many employers are now using checking agencies to make sure that applicants are not being dishonest.

How can I phrase that I got fired?

You don’t have to put the reason you left your last job on your CV, but it’s likely to come up at interview. Sometimes it’s acceptable to say that you had a ‘difference of opinion’, but it depends upon the situation. Place more emphasis on your achievements and what you learned from the job rather than your reason for leaving.

What about getting a reference?

If your ex-employer writes you a reference they’re allowed to include accurate information, e.g. if you were disciplined while working for them. They can also choose to give a reference that only confirms your dates of employment. Once you start working for a new employer, you can ask them for a copy of any reference they’ve been given about you – they should supply it under data protection law.

Ask yourself why you lost your job

If you really hated the line of work you were in, consider this to be an opportunity to look around for something you might enjoy more. Getting sacked might seem like a catastrophe at the time, but many people have found that it helped them establish a more fulfilling career. In the long run, you may find things turn out for the best.


Next Steps

  • Acas offers free advice about everything to do with employment law. 0300 123 1100
  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


leaving work


Updated on 29-Sep-2015