Losing a job, either due to termination or corporate downsizing, is never easy. It does offer some life-lessons. But, it does give you another chance to get it right!
Earlier in my career, one of my functions was to witness terminations as a member of the HR team. I was referred to as the “angel of death.” Truth be told, I look back on that role and realized I loved it. No, I am not a sadist!
What I realized was that I was unleashing these people from a job they didn’t like. Then later in my career, while working for an outplacement company, I met with individuals to let them know they were being downsized. I did this hundreds of times and it never got easier.
So I share with you some of the life-lessons you can take away from your job loss that will serve you well throughout the rest of your career. Maybe getting fired is the greatest gift your employer could have given you.
Companies let go of employees for many reasons: performance, reorganization, breach of company policies or because they just feel like it. In most cases, an employer can terminate your employment at any time.
Let’s look at the positive side of getting axed. You now have the opportunity to move on and into a new role with a new company doing something you will enjoy.
Even if you think you loved your last job, there were things about it that just weren’t working for you.
Maybe your compensation wasn’t in alignment with others in your field, or you found yourself in a dead-end job.
Or maybe you just didn’t feel challenged anymore.
These things should have been a sign for you to move on. But we all get comfortable, and change is difficult. This is why being released from your job can be a blessing in disguise.
Just be aware of the emotional impact of losing your job can have.
1. Find the Right Fit
This is your chance to interview your future manager and employer with more discerning questions. Use what you’ve learned from your last experience to screen for qualities and characteristics you know you’ll work well with. Be on the lookout for red flags or subtle clues based on answers, behaviors or rumors on the street.
2. Know How To Talk About It
The job application will ask you the reason for leaving each job. Keep your answer short and void of emotion or negativity. “Laid off” and “fired” are popular terms, but both can have a negative connotation. Instead, a better choice is “reduction in force,” or you might be able to use “position eliminated.”
You can and should expect to answer why you left your last job on every application and interview. Be ready with an answer that won’t leave the wrong impression with a potential employer.
During a phone screen or interview, keep your answer short and to the point. Here is a good and bad example of how to answer the “why did you leave your job” question.
3. What You Need To Do Differently Next Time
Learning what you will do differently is one of the most valuable life-lessons. What was it about your last job that may not have made it a good fit, or what could you do differently when faced with a difficult work situation the next time around? As Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
4. Always Keep You Eyes Open
Losing a job should also teach you to pay attention to what’s going on inside a company. Are there signs of declining business? Has a key client left or has there been a change in leadership, or a merger or buyout?
These types of things generally mean change is coming. Also keep an eye on changes inside your company. Signs of future trouble may include: Your department is in financial trouble or the project you are working on isn’t performing as well as expected. These are clues that you may need to begin putting out feelers for a new job.
5. Be Open To New Opportunities
If your boss asked you to take on an additional project or more work, how did you respond? This may have been your boss’s way of foreshadowing the need for you to change.
While it may seem unfair for a company to ask you to do more, you can also consider it a skill-building exercise that will make you more marketable. You always want to be ready for something new.
When you network internally and externally, you increase the number of people who know what you do. This keeps you in people’s minds and helps position you for unposted opportunities.
6. Try Harder
Even the hardest-working employee is not protected from a layoff. But employees who exceed performance expectations and have good working relationships with managers generally fare better during times of change.
It is never too late to try to patch your strained relationship with your manager or colleagues. Take the first step and approach them with the intention of fixing what you can. You’ve got nothing to lose.
7. Stay Positive
Never talk trash about your former employer, not to anyone. Negativity breeds negativity. Take the high road and try not to cast blame on anyone. Accept responsibility for the things within your control, and focus on the valuable lessons you learned from the situation.
8. Move On. Don’t Fight It
You don’t want your old job back. It wouldn’t be the same.
Whatever changes the organization was facing that led to your separation probably affected the culture or how things got done.
And if you were terminated and think you want to fight it, think twice. Would everyone welcome you back with open arms? It is likely that your manager and colleagues would treat you differently if you returned, which could make you feel like you were walking on eggshells.
Returning to work at a company that let you go may not work out well.
One last thought: There is a silver lining to losing your job. One of the most powerful life-lessons is that you always have the power to positively manage the situation. Turn it to your advantage!
Ready, here are 6 things every job seeker needs to know!
This post originally appeared on US News & World Report
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.