Job loss may seem like the end of the world, but it doesn't define who you are as a person. [TWEET]

Fired, terminated, and released: no matter the wording, this depressing end to our career happens to the best of us. Life goes on, and we must pick up the pieces after a job loss. Getting fired from a job is as close to a physical ailment as career stress comes. But it doesn't have to be the end of the world.

Tempting as it may be to tell the world how unfair your former employer is, this isn't the time to fall apart and lose yourself in pity and tears. Have a good cry, drown your sorrows for one night, and take the next steps to a better career. Don't do anything rash or stupid. Give it a week before acting on any “instinct or desire” and follow these tips after a job loss.

1. Don't use social media as a diary

Social media, especially Facebook, has changed from communications platforms to microblogs and diaries for some. Don't fall into this trap. Social media isn't the place to tell people your issues, complain about your boss or even ask for advice. Remember, future employers may be able to see what you post. Negative posts about former employers or getting fired from a job are red flags for hiring managers.

Pick up the phone and call someone instead. No email, texts, direct messages or other electronic communication can replace physical, intimate conversation. Your friends will offer a shoulder for tears and eye for complaints.

2. Don't lose control

Okay, emotions aside, we all want to take our frustration out on something or someone. After a job loss isn't the time to regress to childhood tantrums. Dignified responses are the best for retreating your job. That means not telling your supervisor how you feel or what you've been holding back for years. If you go for the low blows, bridges burn and fall, colleagues lose respect for you and those negative references start piling up pretty fast.

Remember what mother used to say, “If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.” If given an end date, continue showing up for work on time and professionally attired. Fight the lazy urge, and continue doing your job as if you were working for a promotion. Be dignified in all you do.

3. Don't hide

Hiding in your den after getting fired from a job with the drapes closed and Oprah playing on the TV may be a good for a few days, but don't drown yourself in pity. Get up and live. Losing a job may be embarrassing and painful, and it's natural for your reaction to be to avoid interacting with others as you cope with the emotional roller coaster, just don't let it overwhelm you. If the depression is too much to handle, see a counselor to help you cope with these dark hours. Remember this:

  • Grieve but don't give up.

  • Look for motivation and inspiration.

  • Ask for help from friends and family.

4. Don't lie

The truth will set you free, or, at least, a lie will cost you a job. Potential employers may ask why you left your previous job. Don't lie. Tell them the truth. Also keep in mind that most new companies ask your immediate past supervisor for a reference. This may seem a little scary, but here are some strategies to prevent a negative impact after a job termination.

  • Explain your side of the story, without placing blame.

  • Take ownership of your mistake, if applicable.

  • Offer solutions to prevent future mistakes from happening again.

  • Seek a positive reference from your past company to negate any negative references.

Most companies are more interested in your qualifications than bad references and lost jobs. Unless you were criminally prosecuted or made a serious ethical breach, the lost job is not as bad as you think. Keep that in mind, dishonesty always disqualifies you from a job.

5. Don't lose faith

Looking for a new job is daunting. Careers are investments, and losing one is the equivalent of overdrawing your checking account. It may take a month, or longer, to even land an interview. It may take several interviews before finding the right fit. Don't give up and become discouraged. Discouragement from a job loss comes off as low self-esteem in an interview. Hiring managers pick up on those subtle emotions and make judgements on your abilities. Preparation and dedication go a long way in keeping your faith and preventing depression and loss of motivation. Stay motivated by:

  • Setting a time and place to look for jobs online or in a newspaper.

  • Taking classes.

  • Polishing your resume and practicing for interviews.

Job loss doesn't define who you are

Getting fired from a job may seem like the end of the world, but it doesn't define who you are as a person. We are all human and make mistakes. Some mistakes just have more severe consequences. Use the experience to learn from your weaknesses. Develop strategies to prevent the same mistake from happening again. Don't get hung up over the past. Sweep the dust under the carpet, move forward and start your day fresh. Each day is a new beginning; there are more jobs out there waiting for you to conquer.

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