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What to do when you’re fired: The 10-point plan

Back in my college days, I worked for a dermatologist I’ll call Dr. Despicable. He was sketchy, he was cheap, he was not one of the finest human beings on the planet, but I really needed the money.

One day at the end of my shift, Dr. Despicable casually tossed a comment over his shoulder that went something like this “Oh, don’t bother coming in next week. We won’t be needing you anymore.” I’d like to say that I responded in a way that behooved my future professionalism, but I did not. I yelled something to the effect of “YOU WON’T BE NEEDING ME ANYMORE? YOU CROOKED (insert your own favored expletives here).”

Again, that was not the finest moment of my career, but I learned from it.

If you find yourself fired from your own loved or loathed job, here’s what you probably should do:

Mourn. Move on

Christie Garton, founder and CEO of the 1,000 Dreams Fund says “Allow yourself the time to vent, express outrage and anger over the indignity of it all. How dare they! Well, they did. So, move on.” While frustration is normal, “be sure not to lash out at your former boss, or disparage the company to your colleagues, because you want them to remember you favorably as you look for new opportunities.”

Take a step back

Garton advises taking a step back to “think about what you learned, why it happened and then, how it’s empowered you in new ways.” Create a positive narrative about what happened. “Your confidence and candor will be appreciated, and it will help you see the situation not as a setback, but as a turning point and step forward.”

Take ownership

Even if you blurt out something really dumb after being fired “Apologize by letting your former employer know that comment came in an emotional moment, and use this time to communicate what you really wanted to say in the first place,” said Kevin Alft – Master Licensee for ActionCOACH – State of Texas. It’s also important to recognize and own the fact that you allowed emotion to get in the way of logic during an unexpected event.

About the exit interview

Alft said “An exit interview is part of company policy, and I would suggest taking it. Think of it as an opportunity to provide constructive and positive, feedback to benefit your former employer. Make sure you’re being responsible with your responses and keeping bitterness/personal vendettas out of the feedback.” And remember “Ultimately, this is an opportunity for you to contribute to the company’s success and keep that bridge intact.”

Tell the team

Alft suggests asking your employer how they plan to tell your colleagues. “It’s best to let the employer make that announcement first instead of blasting out a stinging text or email right after you walk out of the meeting. The last thing you want to do is collude against your former company.” And remember – “The objective is to maintain a positive relationship with all parties involved, and not to fall into a victim mindset.”

Update your resume

Alft says “Focus on the achievements. Spell out how you helped the company become successful and what you contributed to help them achieve their mission and vision.”

Be honest

When interviewing for your next gig, Alft said “The classy thing to do during an interview when addressing your firing is to be honest. There probably wasn’t the alignment both sides had hoped for, and now you’re seeking a better fit for your contributions and skills.”

Think big

If you were fired or let go from a job you took out of necessity, Garton cautions against immediately applying for similar positions. “Take a moment to consider how to Live Your Dreams and, realistically, what steps you could take to make that happen. “First, outline what you truly want. Then, start researching and initiating conversations with family and friends—and you’ll be surprised to see what support exists to achieve your goal.”

Pursue your passion

Garton says you should “get specific with your passion.” She believes “emphasizing your passion for a few specific things is better than trying to do it all.”

Be smarter the next time around

Before that ax falls, try to find out what – if anything – you can do to keep your job and keep your boss happy.

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Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.