It's that unscheduled meeting with your manager and ends in a few moments of pained silence. After that, you're out of there. Maybe you knew it was coming all along, maybe you thought it was weird that you hadn't had a project in weeks. Or maybe not. Most people (and for very good reasons) identify with their employment and losing it often feels like losing part of who they are. It's not uncommon to feel weird and alone, with reservations about how you spent the past months, or even years, of your life. Kate Wendleton, president of a national career coaching organization, warns: "The first challenge following a layoff is to conquer your emotions."
Don't think about it
It probably makes, really, very little sense. I was once fired for being too chatty on the job. The next week, they fired my now-former coworker who had never talked once. You can think yourself to death about why it was you, instead of the guy one desk over who got the talk, but that's because "People lose their minds," says Liz Ryan, author of Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve. You've got to keep yours.
Over at Forbes, Susan Adams, talks about how impressed she was by an email that a former employee mass-sent that was "striking in its tone of grace and confidence" and "offered heartfelt praise for the whole staff." So do that. For anyone not directly involved with your termination (which is probably one or two people at most), you can control the narrative of your departure and keep the doors open between you and any of your coworkers.
It's also tempting—especially if you know exactly why you were fired and who's really to blame—to let loose on social media, now that you can tell the truth. But alerting your vast group of friends and not-quite friends that something is wrong about the whole way a business is run doesn't translate very well either. In fact, Wendleton, recommends not to "talk to anyone outside your inner circle," until you've let your emotions settle. But don't let that stop you from:
Getting (back) on that Linkedin
Krista Canfield, a former Linkedin PR manager, recommends updating the current tab and professional headline tabs of your profile immediately in order to tell prospective employers what kind of position you see yourself in. Maybe you want to give a stab at PR after years of editorial.
Haven't been on the job market in the past two years? Then your Linkedin presence might be a tad underdeveloped or you might think your profession or goals aren't something that needs a linkedin. Well, they do: check out the good Deborah Jacobs for some excellent tips on how to craft one, fresh on the marketplace and contemplating a new direction. "Label yourself as what you would like to be," she advises, don't feel "limited by what your last job title was."
Also? Aim for punchy language. "Use active verbs, amply convey your responsibilities, and show results."
But Get On It!
One big temptation, if you can afford it, is to use the occasion to take the small (and undoubtedly well-deserved) break from the grind. Sandy Johnson, a former vice president at NEXCareer Inc. who now runs her own career and outplacement firm, is adamant: "Putting your toes in the sand could feel pretty good, but may be equivalent to sticking your head into it."
If you had worked at your old job for a while, make sure that you made every push you can for best severance package available to you. Make sure that you get everything that's due. And, more importantly, make sure you don't lose focus on the job market. Set a goal of applying for a certain number of jobs everyday and stick to it. Your better job will thank you.