Whether your company has made a round of layoffs or you've had a sinking feeling for a while that you have fallen out of favor with the boss—if you find yourself "fired," you're not alone. Along with the usual trauma that a pink slip involves, your dignity, confidence and self-esteem, as well as your family and marriage can be under siege too.
Here are nine tips for handling this particular setback with your head held high:
1. Don't argue. It's counterproductive to make excuses and plead your case as your boss is letting you go. If the situation has gotten to this point, odds are it's not an environment that you will not want to remain at anyway.
2. Reflect. What are the take-away lessons from your experience? How did you feel about this job? Were there issues that affected your ability to do your job? Honestly look at what you would do differently in your next job, even if it's being more careful about what position you accept.
3. Re-assess. What would the ideal job look like, what would your ideal company be and what are you optimally looking for in your next position. There's power in writing it down.
4. Begin your search. Have a good cry or wallow for an afternoon and then get back up and concentrate your efforts into looking for your next job. Start with updating your resume and getting your references in order. Look at posted job vacancies and talk to everyone you know about potential job opportunities. Don't be afraid to contact companies you think would be good places to work even if they don't have a job opening listed.
5. Practice telling your story. Spend some time rehearsing how you'll answer the question "Why were you fired?" If you were let go for performance issues you might say, "My skills were not a good fit for the position I previously held. That is why I'm particularly interested in the position here. It sounds like my technology background could be a good addition to this department." Practice your response so you're comfortable when you have to discuss it in an interview.
6. Stay positive. Getting fired doesn't mean the end of your career. Many successful people have been let go from their jobs to find that a better job was just around the corner. This is a temporary setback.
7. Don't get stuck in a rut. While you're looking for work, consider an interim job outside of your field or connect with a temp agency that gets their fee paid by the employer. Try a new work environment and let other employers see what you have to offer.
8. Don't bad mouth your former employer or colleagues. A negative attitude sends the wrong message. Stay positive and focus on your new future.
9. Remember that one employer's opinion does not define you. There are always people in life that we will simply not click with. The boss that just fired you is probably one of them. Set your mind to finding a work situation where your contributions are valued and you are happy to show up to work every morning.
10. Network. Go to local networking events and fundraisers. Your next job may be just around corner. Look at every connection as an opportunity to move forward into your future career.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.