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Getting Back on Your Feet After Getting Fired

If you’ve just been let go from a job, you know the sense of loss, anger, confusion and despair a person goes through. Thoughts are racing through your mind, but the one thing that isn’t is what to do now. These suggestions can help you get up and back into the game the quickest:

  1. Take a break. The best thing you can do is to take one to two weeks to get away if possible. Your daily routine is broken and staying inside feeling the pressure of that each day is daunting. If you have a chance to break that pattern, you’ll return feeling more in control and ready for the next step.

  2. Take an honest account of what happened. Was your performance slacking or was something going on with management? Did you have opportunities to improve your attitude, but didn’t? Talk to co-workers and go through old memos to get a clearer, more objective opinion of what was going on. Avoiding this step or being dishonest will make it more likely you’ll be in this position again.

  3. Begin networking outward and changing inward. This step helps you become clearer about your positives and weaknesses. You may find that the job you were working was bringing out weaker job skills and the areas you were strong at were never valued. The majority of unemployed people find prospects for their next job while doing this step. Much of it is getting honest and objective with what you have to offer a new company.

  4. Update and reorganize your résumé. When’s the last time you went through and cleaned your résumé with recent awards, as well as updates of promotions? This is a vital part of selling yourself to the next employer.

  5. Talk to your references and make sure they will give you a positive report. Talk to co-workers one on one to make sure they will support you and give you a good recommendation. Assuming someone liked you is never in your best interest.

  6. Be honest and keep your integrity when interviewing. When you interview with a possible employer they’re looking for someone who can do the work and represent their company well. Be as transparent as possible, but also remember that integrity speaks louder than boasting. For most of us there are things we aren’t good at and make mistakes with. Being honest and non-defensive will make you look much better than trying to evade the question or projecting the problem onto someone else.

Perhaps the worst part of anyone losing their job is the anxiety it elicits from others in the same company who feel as though they’re walking on eggshells. These suggestions can help calm you and stabilize the situation:

  1. Focus on the things you can control; you’re not a victim. As much as possible, take care of the job you’re doing and don’t get involved in the company gossip or others’ complaints.

  2. Keep your sense of control internal rather than external. Anxiety and stress is higher when you believe your life is in the hand of others…especially during layoffs.

  3. Define your purpose at work. Reflecting on what you value most about your job will help ease the stress you feel in an unstable environment. It also helps you become clearer about opportunities outside of where you work.

  4. Develop the sense that no matter what happens at work you’ll survive. Do more things for yourself, send out applications or talk to other companies similar to yours and find out if they’re hiring. Having options relieves stress.

The thought of losing a job is scary when your family depends on the money, health care and livelihood. But the loss of a job is not a loss of your values, worth or survival. You can’t control what happens with your job, but you can control how you react and go on. The loss of a job is also an opportunity to find a better one!

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