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How to Recover from a Job Loss

Here are some tips for recovering from a lay-off or firing:

1.) Get back out there. So your company was so stupid, they let you go. Fine. Payback is heck. You will find something even better. But here’s the deal – you have to get back out there. Update your resume. If you don’t know how to do it, get help. Use social networking sites to help you reconnect with all the people you ever knew. Attend networking events. WORK IT! Action will ALWAYS make you feel better. And it is the only way you’ll find another job.

2.) Learn from what happened. Everything has a lesson. Many years ago, I was laid off. In this case, it was because I was too direct. I should have played politics better. It was a valuable lesson. Now I work for myself.

Other things you might learn:

Take no job for granted. We are all replaceable.

Look at who wasn’t let go. Can you tell why? Were there things you could have done differently? Did you get slack? (Coming in late, dressing poorly, etc.?)

Do not assume others are like you. You may have thought that loyalty and hard work would be rewarded – this is not always the case. Other people have their own agendas and often are concerned with self interest first.

No one will take care of you but you.

Was the job a poor fit for you? Did this experience teach you what you don’t like to do?

If you can learn from this and grow, you will have no regrets. You will take your power back. This experience will influence you, but it will NOT destroy you. Remember Nietzsche – if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

3.) Try not to beat yourself up. You did the very best you could with the information you had. If you could have seen the signs and acted on them you would have. But it’s very likely it had nothing to do with you – sales are down and the company is letting people go regardless of performance. Beating yourself up only demoralizes you. You can’t turn back the clock. You can’t put a brain in your supervisor’s head. You need all your energy for landing your next (better) job.

4.) Put your job in perspective. Hey, that job wasn’t perfect. Sometimes Sour Grapes is a good self preservation tactic. Remind yourself of that co-worker you despised or that painfully boring staff meeting you had to sit through. Think of all those annoying customers or anything else you hated. Don’t make that job better than it was because they took it away from you.

5.) Go out with grace and class. Try your best to control your emotions – sadness, anger, etc. while this is happening at work or you are with former co-workers. Don’t burn any bridges. You may need these folks for references. Things might turn around and they might want to re-hire you. And don’t you want to be better than the company that let you go? Always take the high road. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your days.

6.) Be grateful. I know – this seems insane right now. But it is the best tactic for surviving something like this. Be grateful because they have set you free to find something that makes better use of your talents or allows you to spend more time with your loved ones or gives you an opportunity to help others. Every time you get back up from a fall (and this is definitely a fall) you stand up stronger. But you have to stand up.

When you do find your next work – and it may come in a form you don’t expect – you will have changed. You may appreciate your work now whereas before you took it for granted. You may be working for much less money, and you may come to realize that money is not the only measure of success. You may find better work where you make more money. No matter what happens, you will have received a gift. It may be something as simple as humility. Gratitude will get you through.

Want to argue this and stay with bitterness and anger? Fine – go ahead. The only one who will suffer is you.

7.) Stay open. You may want to close up, stay home and have a pity party. Don’t do it. Stay in the game, in the world. Let people know that you are available to help make great things happen. Spread the word. People with great attitudes and drive can always find some type of work. Unhappy people who want a free ride are doomed.

8.) Let go of entitlement. No one owes you anything. Not the company you gave 20 years of your life to, not the government, not your parents – no one. The sooner you stop waiting for someone else to bail you out and get to work on bailing yourself out – the greater your success will be.

9.) Celebrate yourself. You are a gift! There is no one on this planet exactly like you. The right job will make use of your unique traits. If you have great people skills, all companies need to deal with customers. If you are good with details and organization, all companies need to be organized and more efficient. There are some terrific books available to help you with this (Discover Your Strengths, What Color is Your Parachute, etc.) The greatest adventure in life is discovering who you are – and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. You may have been limiting yourself when there are dozens and dozens of jobs you’d be great at!

Don’t give up. The more good energy and effort you put out, the more will be returned to you. Hang in there.

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