Fired but need a reference – how?
So, you got fired. It’s not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, but it does happen. After all, there is a stigma in getting the sack and people often feel embarrassed, ashamed and afraid to admit it, worrying that they will be negatively judged and find it difficult to find another job. But getting fired isn’t as rare as most people think it is.
Even if you know your rights during this trying time, you still need to know what comes next. The old job needs to be replaced with a new one, and to do that, you need a solid reference to see you through.
Consequently, here’s what you need to do if you’re fired, but need a reference.
Be polite and respectful
Without sounding patronising, it’s important to remember the basics; being polite and respectful. Tempers can flare after a firing. Still, no one actually owes you a reference and it’s not in your contract to be given one. If someone has agreed to give you a reference, more often than not they’re going out of their way to do you a favour.
Before you decide on who you’ll ask after your firing, first figure out how you’ll ask. For example, give the referee plenty of notice so they’re not rushing around or taken by surprise. Don’t put them down as a reference if they haven’t agreed to it, and don’t demand it as some kind of favour on account of your firing. Show you’d really appreciate it, and be sure to smile and be polite.
Understandably, it’s normal to be seething inside after being fired. Whether you feel you’ve been dismissed rightly or wrongly, it’s important not to show it. You haven’t been fired on a whim, so accept the situation and remain professional. This will boost the likelihood of you securing your reference.
Ask your former boss!
While being fired can leave an awkward stink in the air, there’s still hope. Depending on the nature of your dismissal, all ties may not need to be cut just yet. Consider approaching your former boss and asking for that reference. After all, there’s no harm or crime in simply asking, and you may be surprised by their response. What do you have to lose?
Of course, this is a tough gig, given that you were likely fired by this person. Still, if your firing was due to a trivial reason and your former boss was just following protocol, it might be they’ll be willing to help you afterwards with a good reference and letters of recommendation. Not all firings are personal, some are due to rule following, or simply not being the right fit.
If you’ve been given the boot due to a silly slip up, consider spending this option first. Some workplace’s can be quite petty by nature, so even the most mild mistake can lead to sackings in some places. Who knows, maybe management will take this into account and do everything they can to help you pick yourself back up!
Ask a former colleague!
While a glowing reference from a boss looks good, they’re not the only impressive individuals within a firm. If your boss has refused your request for a reference, consider bouncing over to other managerial staff instead. It might be a step down, but at least you’re still on the steps and not tumbling into oblivion alone!
Remember, if you go down this route you’re still getting professional input. Your former colleagues know how you work, what you’re capable of and your strengths. Utilise them! While being fired can be embarassing, there is bound to be someone on your side if the reasons for your dismissal are a grey area. Ask around and see where it gets you.
Of course, you may even still have friends at the company who’ll be there for you. Prioritise them first in this situation; they’d be happy to help you out in a jam, and are likely to write you a reference that has a more natural glow. Even though you’ve been told to pack up your things, your friends will always be with you in spirit; make sure that’s doubly the case by asking for a reference!
Approach former clients
It’s not only about who you have worked with, but also who you have worked for. While colleagues and managers can talk all about your work ethic and position, any past clients you may have had can vouch for your service. In many respects, this can go further than the typical generic references you acquire from work folks.
Businesses want to please their customers, that much is obvious. This is what you can focus on. While you’ve been fired and deemed ‘unworthy’ for your former company, any outstanding clients you worked with may have a very different story to spin. Did they enjoy interacting with you? Were you polite, professional and helpful? Would they work with you again? In many cases, these answers can far outweigh anything a former co-worker could say about you.
If any clients you’ve pleased are out there, get in touch. Businesses reading references will be pleased by this, especially if you can replicate your performance history with their existing client base. After all, what’s more important? That you can please some faceless manager, or that you’re a hit when it comes to drawing in and retaining business?
Ask fellow volunteers
Even if you’re struggling to find a job, you should really do any kind of activity as soon as possible that updates and refreshes your CV. Volunteer experience can sit well here. After all, you don’t want old and outdated references clogging up your resume. In the end, it’s easier than you might think to keep things fresh and moving along after being fired.
Join up to a volunteer program to bag some decent references. Anyone whose overseeing things there can vouch for your character (i.e. working for great causes for free) and your work ethic. It’ll look brilliant in a reference section, as it shows your morals and your want to work has remained firmly intact. In the end, this can all reflect positively on you.
Volunteer organisations are not only noble in what they do, but in how they treat their volunteers. Without them, they can’t run, it’s really that simple! You’d arguably be more valued there than anywhere else, which is a notion that will be perfectly proven when it comes to scoring a strong recommendation.