Before it happens, it feels like the worst possible scenario. Right after it happens, it might feel as though you underestimated it. Getting fired from a job can break our spirits like few other events. In a way it makes sense. In many ways our work defines us. To lose that is to lose part of our identity. It can take a while to recover from such a significant event.
Yet getting fired can open us up to opportunities we’d never have while slaving away at an office. Getting fired just might end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Here are a few things you can do after you get fired.
1. Wallow in your own grief
Getting fired is a highly emotional event, and it deserves a response in kind. Feel free to take some time to feel crappy about it. Sleep in until whenever. Stay up all night and watch B-movies. Drink a little bit too much. Indulging your emotions will help you get over the situation more quickly than if you fought them. The key is not letting it go on too long. Thankfully, at some point you’ll probably feel thoroughly disgusted with yourself. Congratulations. That’s the sign it’s time to move on.
2. Find your path
Now that you’re not tied down to a job, it’s time to reassess your priorities. Do you want to continue in the same line of work? Or is there something you’ve always wanted to pursue, but, due to your existing job, never tried? Some people take the opportunity to start their own businesses. You can work on things that make you forget time or you can follow your effort. Whatever the case, it’s best to figure it out before you start the new job hunt.
3. Tap your network
Over the years you’ve surely met plenty of people. You have family and friends, and you have acquaintances that you met through various channels. They’re the perfect place to start when searching for a new job or career. Don’t mistake this as begging for a job. On the contrary, you needn’t even ask any of these people about any open positions. Instead, they can act as your advisors. Maybe they have feelers in a certain industry. Maybe they have some pointed advice. They can be a constant source of inspiration and stability. And who knows: maybe they’ll find you a lead, too.
4. Plant many seeds
One key to finding work is to spread yourself thin. In many situations this is not good advice; in fact, when working we often hear how spreading oneself thin can lead to poor results. But searching for a job is quite a different story. You need to search far and wide to find something that works for you. As such, you should plant seeds wherever you can. Reply to jobs on the dozens of classifieds sites. Search out companies you want to work for and send them a cover letter and resume. Ask friends and associates about companies that they know are hiring. Think of it like a power grid. You’re sending energy everywhere at once, and adjusting as needs change. If you’re doing well with Monster.com, start cold emailing companies. That will ensure you have a well-rounded job search.
5. Turn it into a full-time job
Until you find a job, your job hunt is your full-time job. (And if you chose to start your own company, it will be fuller than full-time.) That means sitting down for seven or eight hours a day and applying all of the above. Hey, it’s not like you have any other gainful employment to take up your time. Those who turn a job search into a full-time job necessarily have a leg up on the competition. They’re busy planting seeds in every nook and cranny of an industry, while others are simply browsing the classified ads. More time and more effort are the keys to getting back on your feet and finding a new job.
Devastating as it might seem, losing your job can be the best thing that ever happened to you. It provides occasion for you to take a step back and view your situation objectively. After you work through the normal emotions of such a loss, you have an unprecedented opportunity in front of you. Use it wisely and you might be on your way to a much more fulfilling career.
Joe Pawlikowski writes about work-at-home issues on his personal blog, A New Level.