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October 15, 2009

Getting Fired: What No One Tells You

Why getting fired could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

woman jumping in business suit

Suit up, ladies. Now that you know the rules of the game, we've huddled with the experts and grilled the bosses to give you the ultimate primer, dismal headlines be damned, on how to land a great job in these tough times.

Photo Credit: Ren Mansi/iStock

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Whether over a creative dispute, an error, or change of management, it happens at least once in everyone’s life. And even though you might be freaking out as you pack up your desk, getting fired could be good for you. Here's how to make the best of it:

1. Make Your Exit
That packet of papers your old employers want you to sign? It’s an Exit Contract, and you’ll want to read it way more carefully than you read your employee welcome manual when you started. What you should really keep an eye on are non-compete clauses that could limit where you work in the future, and anything releasing the company. Remember, these documents are created with corporation in mind. If there’s a release clause, make sure it is mutual, meaning that you can’t talk smack about Company X, and they can’t talk smack about you. Keep this contract tight by zipping your lips to any specifics on Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, YouTube…

2. Money, Money, Money
Unemployment and severance can surely cushion the blow of losing your job. Check the contracts you signed when you started your job to see if you are entitled to any pay for unclaimed vacation or bonuses. Then, go home and register for unemployment. Put your ego to the side for a minute and remember that unemployment is no different than medical benefits- you wouldn’t turn them down, right? You pay for unemployment out of your taxes, so dip into that fund and save your own behind. Plus, forget the idea that everyone will see you hanging out on unemployment line. You can actually register on the Internet in just a few minutes and get direct deposit.

3. Cash-in On Those Missed Lunch Breaks
How many times did you skip out on lunch to slave over a hot cubicle? Take some time off now, without emails and 3-hour meetings breathing down your back. Visit family, take a midday museum trip, or see a movie matinee. Get reacquainted with that fancy gym membership and score a coveted treadmill spot without the happy hour crowd. An added bonus of being at home is you can really see if your career path has been the best for you. Since getting canned have you been knitting up a storm? Obsessing over fashion blogs? Designing a website? Maybe it’s time for a new job direction.

4. Get a Move-on
The time comes when most need to search for a new job. Start by reaching out to your contacts and letting them know you are available. Update your resume, and make some changes on your online profiles, especially LinkedIn. When you get that coveted interview, don’t become chatty when asked about the last job. Think of it like being on a date. You wouldn’t exactly spill every last detail about your failed relationships, and you shouldn’t here either. Dates, duties, and a few specific accomplishments are cool, but leave the trash talk for your family. And one huge perk about searching for a brand-new position is the cash. You might have been locked into a raise rate at your last job, but it’s time to get the salary you always deserved.

5. It’s Okay to Freak Out
People are spending longer hours at their jobs and bringing work home, so when we’re let go, it could seem like grieving over a death. Don’t be surprised if being “rejected” by your old employer brings up a few issues you had pushed in the back of your mind, behind PowerPoint presentations and pie charts. It’s okay to spend a few days being miserable, missing that giveaway table and Friday morning coffee runs with the cute guy from Accounting, but if you’re in a constant state of wondering what you could have done differently, you might have a problem. There’s no shame in chatting with a friend, family member, or therapist about what’s really bothering you—you could find the realization you need to move on. Remember: sometimes letting go of something that’s tying us down is all we need to fly!

Annemarie Dooling is a Web 2.0 junkie who still buys magazines. Between Tweets, she lives vicariously through French fashion blogs, VH1 Celebreality, and roadtrips, which she documents at frillseekerdiary.com.

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