From Hired to Fired

Bob Goldman on

There are many articles with advice on how to get ahead in your career. What you need is advice on how to get ahead in your career when your career has hit the wall.

You may be surprised to learn that even people who work really hard to avoid working really hard can find themselves blindsided by termination, however warranted.

You've managed to hang on to your job for so long, with bosses who are so clueless, that you never imagined they'd identify you as a malignant and unproductive carbuncle on the rump of the corporate corpus.

This is where Alison Doyle comes in. Doyle is "one of the one of the industry's most highly-regarded career experts," according to her author's bio on One of her specialties is giving expert career advice to people who have just seen their careers blow up. Or so I concluded after reading a recent post, "When an Employer Can Fire You By Phone or Email."

Frankly, the possibility of getting fired by email is almost worse than learning that your manager can see you when you cover your eyes in a staff meeting, chanting: "I'm not here. I'm not here."

But if you have any hope that the Geneva Conventions prohibit email firings, you're out of luck. Employers can fire you over email, over Twitter, even over Facebook. (Facebook is probably the worst kind of digital firing, because all your co-workers can "like" it.)


Fact is, employers can fire you using skywriting if they want, and if they can spell, which is not a sure thing. As Doyle points out, an employer "doesn't have to be nice when firing you."

Since your employer isn't trying to be nice while employing you, you have to wonder why all firings aren't handled quickly and efficiently by email. The flimsy fantasy of "staff morale" is the reason given, but I don't believe it.

The real problem with an email firing is that you can easily subvert it by not checking your email. Never open your email and you could continue working for years, though you'll never know if you won the eBay auction for a cornflake in the shape of Illinois. (You didn't. I did, and for only $1,350!)

If you are too addicted to your email to quit, the morale issue still works in your favor. "Word of harsh firings can reverberate through an organization," Doyle writes, "and impact productivity and retention of key employees."


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