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Advice for those getting fired: ‘Stay calm, shut up and listen’

Posted May 9, 2013 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The standard advice applies for those who are being fired: Don’t burn your bridges, because a former employer may still be able to help you land a new job.

The Careerist has that admonition along with other steps that should be taken by those getting fired. The first bit of advice: “Stay calm, shut up, and listen.”

The blog spoke with Katherine Kimpel, managing partner of Sanford Heisler’s office in Washington, D.C., who said it’s particularly important to pay attention at the termination meeting if you feel the firing was unfair. "A smart employee will keep emotions in check and will try to use that meeting to get details on why they are being terminated,” Kimpel said. “Employees should be polite and measured in the meeting and document what happened in the meeting. Those records will be very valuable if they end up talking to a lawyer later on."

The Careerist also says the newly fired shouldn’t be pressured into signing a severance agreement or other papers. Read the documents at home and speak with an employment lawyer. Those over age 40 have specific protections that give them 21 days to consider the agreement, Epstein Becker Green partner Steven Swirsky told the blog.

Don’t assume a severance deal is a take-it-or-leave it proposition. “You can—and should—negotiate for better severance, additional time to use the office phone and email, and other benefits,” the Careerist says. “Certainly, it never hurts to ask.”

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