Five things to do right away when you lose your job

Obviously being let go from a job is a setback, but it doesn’t have to derail your career. We had an enquiry from a reader who had recently been fired. He was concerned that the situation might permanently impact his career.

A job loss is a setback, but it doesn’t mean that your whole working life is in ruins. A job is just a job. Most of us will work 8-10 of them over the course of our careers. They won’t all end well. The most important thing to do is to think positive and look for new opportunities.

Plus, as we’ve noted over the past year or more, this is actually a great time to be looking for work. Unemployment in Canada has been hovering near record lows with many employers struggling to recruit the talent they need. It’s a job seekers’ market.

Here’s how you can handle the turbulence of a job loss and get back in the game quickly.

What to do when you lose your job

Make a professional exit. Remember that you may work with your manager or your coworkers again in a different company. Don’t do anything reckless or unprofessional out of anger. You need to protect your own professional reputation and leave a positive last impression. (First impressions matter, but last impressions may matter even more.)

Negotiate. Also, companies want to protect their brands, and their reputation as an employer. When they cut staff, there is usually an exit deal offered. See if you can negotiate your severance, including how long your benefits will extend beyond your employment date and if they offer any outplacement services.

Secure a reference. Make sure that you keep in touch with a manager who can speak highly of your work ethic and abilities for future references. Having positive references and connections who will recommend you to others are some of your most valuable career assets. How to get a reference from an employer who fired you.

Be sure to inform your network that you’ll be looking for new opportunities. This doesn’t have to be an announcement that you’ve lost your job – just the update that you are available. Word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to connect with jobs and potential employers.

Update your resume and your online profiles. While your most recent job is still top of mind, write down your recent accomplishments and any transferable skills you’ve acquired since the last time you looked for work. When employers read resumes, the most recent employers and accomplishments will carry more weight than your work experience from years ago.

(And clean up your social media profiles. Most employers screen candidates on their social networks. Also, don’t post a rant about being fired or your former employer online. Venting might make you feel better, but it makes you look bad.)

Finally, because the subject of why you left your previous job is likely to come up in conversation with potential employers, here is how to interview for a job after being fired.

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