What to do when you’re fired. A Guide to Turning Setbacks into Success

What to do when you're fired

Getting fired is often seen as a career-ending catastrophe, a stigma that can haunt you for years. But let’s face it, it’s just one of those things that can happen to the best of us. Even the most successful individuals have faced this challenge. Take Dawie Roodt, for instance, a renowned economist who admitted to being fired twice. Today, he stands at the helm of a multi-billion-dollar company. Read more about Dawie Roodt’s journey.

High-Profile Examples of Resilience

Dawie Roodt isn’t the only high-profile business leader who has faced the sting of being fired. The business world is replete with stories of individuals who turned their setbacks into stepping stones.

  1. Steve Jobs: The iconic founder of Apple was famously fired from his own company in 1985. Yet, he returned in 1997 to save Apple from near bankruptcy, leading it to become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Read more.
  2. Oprah Winfrey: Before becoming a media mogul, Oprah was fired from her job as a news anchor at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV. She went on to create her own production company and became the first African-American female billionaire. Read more.
  3. J.K. Rowling: Before publishing the Harry Potter series, Rowling was fired from her position as a secretary for daydreaming too much about the characters. She then focused on writing, leading to the creation of one of the most successful book series in history. Read more.

Embracing Honesty and Resilience

In my 25+ years of interviewing people, I can count on one hand the number of individuals who admitted to being fired. There’s a stigma, a fear that it will tarnish your career irreparably. But the truth is, how you handle being fired is far more important than the fact that it happened.

Be Honest

Honesty is always the best policy. Trying to hide or lie about being fired can lead to more significant issues down the line. Most employers appreciate honesty and the ability to own up to past mistakes or misfortunes.

Reflect and Learn

Use this time to reflect on what happened. What lessons can you learn? How can you improve? This introspection can be incredibly valuable for your personal and professional growth.

Network and Rebrand

Leverage your network. Reach out to former colleagues, mentors, and industry connections. Often, they can provide support, advice, and even job leads. Also, consider this an opportunity to rebrand yourself. Update your resume, enhance your LinkedIn profile, and showcase your strengths and newly acquired insights.

Stay Positive and Persistent

Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial. It’s easy to fall into a spiral of negativity, but remember, many successful people have been in your shoes. Persistence and a positive mindset can open new doors.


Being fired is not the end of the world, nor should it be the end of your career. It’s a bump in the road, a challenge to overcome. With honesty, reflection, and a proactive approach, you can turn this setback into an inspiring success story. Remember, your career is a journey with highs and lows. It’s not about the fall; it’s about how you rise.

This article aims to inspire and guide those who have faced the challenge of being fired. Remember, it’s a common experience, even among the most successful individuals. With the right mindset and approach, you can turn this setback into a stepping stone for greater success.

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