Getting fired is rarely a pleasant experience. Along with the practical and financial ramifications of losing your job, you must often deal with intense emotions and a deep sense of embarrassment. With the right action steps, it's completely feasible to bounce back from the negative experience and relaunch your career with renewed energy.
Process Your Feelings
Even when it's not a surprise, getting fired usually comes with a swell of feelings. When you've left the office, find a private place and allow the emotions to wash over you. Don't shy away from them, and do whatever you need to do to express yourself: cry, cringe at the memory or scream out your frustration. Processing your feelings is a healthy way to deal with the stress of the incident. Afterward, you're better able to think clearly about the next steps and discuss the situation rationally with a loved one.
Find the Lessons
After getting fired, you may be tempted to try to forget the whole situation and move on. This might feel good in the moment, but the topic is going to come up in job interviews, networking sessions and casual conversations, and it's important to be ready. Write down the reasons your boss gave for firing you. Then, figure out what went wrong and identify the role you played. Be prepared — this requires an uncomfortable, objective look at your own shortcomings. In the end, it offers valuable opportunities for growth and provides a framework for discussing the subject in a confident, professional manner. Instead of stammering nervously when someone asks, you can respond with a statement such as, "My strengths lie in creative development rather than sales, and it was reflected in my monthly numbers."
Getting fired leaves you with a great deal of free time. Whether you're wallowing or rejoicing, it's crucial to use at least some of that time productively. Allow yourself a few days to lounge around the house in your pajamas, and then get active. Make job hunting your new purpose. During business hours, spend at least 75 percent of your time on useful tasks: editing your resume, searching for jobs, refreshing your LinkedIn profile or renewing a lapsed membership in a professional organization. If you were fired for a specific skills gap, work to shore up that weakness. Attend networking events to build connections, and explore potential career avenues by building new skills. By taking several small steps each day, you can speed the transition from losing your job to finding a new position. As an added benefit, the regular activity can help dispel feelings of hopelessness or despair that often come with getting fired.
Getting fired can feel like the end of your career, but in reality, it's nothing more than a stepping stone. By processing the experience in a healthy way and taking action to get back in the game, you can keep your professional momentum.
Photo courtesy of Paul Stevenson at Flickr.com
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