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You're Fired; Be Ready, It Can Happen To You

by Ramon Greenwood

"We feel you would be happier working for another company."

"Sorry, business is falling off. We no longer need your services."

"Operations are being consolidated in Mexico. The Bedrock Plant will be closed Feb. 1."

Sugar-coated or not, the message is the same: You're fired! You have been sacked. You are out of a job!

Anyone can get the axe at any time. It happens to good people and bad ones...hard workers as well as slackers.

13 Steps To Survive and Prosper

Therefore, it makes common sense to know what to do to survive and prosper should you ever get the dreaded "pink slip".

1. Keep in mind that in the current environment the idea of tomb to womb job security is as dead as a hammer. Be loyal to your present employer, but never develop a romance with the organization. Know that the relationship can end at any time. There is enough suffering in store for anyone over the loss of a job without adding the pains of an unrequited love. Look out for yourself first.

2. Be alert and well informed at all times about the outlook for your employer and your job. If you know things are going down the drain, begin a below-the-radar search for other opportunities. If the axe falls, you'll have a head start on finding another job.

3. Stay prepared financially. Always try to have enough cash in reserve to cover at least three months living expenses.

4. Keep your skills up to date with the needs of the job market. Capitalize on opportunities for additional training. Read the literature of your field.

5. Maintain an up-to-date record of your accomplishments so you can produce a resume in 24 hours.

6. Nurture contacts with people in your line of work and with those likely to employ your type of qualifications. Be visible through outside activities and positive publicity.

7. Help others who lose their jobs. Also, be of assistance to those who are looking to recruit employees. They may help you some day.

8. Understand your emotions.

Psychologist Bill Weber says getting fired is very much like dealing with the death of a loved one.

"The first reaction is denial, or wishful thinking. There's been a mistake. This can't be true," Dr. Weber says. "Then the shock sets in, followed by anger, depression, frustration and fear. Worst of all is the loss of self-esteem."

9. If you get fired, allow some time for grieving; but not too much. Don't just sit there feeling sorry for yourself. It's natural to be angry with your employer, but don't let your feelings show. You still need him. Negotiate the best possible severance package possible for continuing pay and benefits, particularly insurance coverage. Don't forget good references, too.

10. Start immediately to launch your search for another, better job. Use this time to reassess the goals you have set for the rest of your life. Define the job that will enable you to achieve these objectives.

11. Prepare a plan to market yourself. Let it be known you are available; "advertise" what you have to offer. Involve your network of friends and family in the job search.

12. Be patient. Recognize it will take time to find another acceptable position.

13. Don't panic. If you possibly can afford to wait, don't jump on the first opportunity that comes down the pike, unless, of course, it really matches up with your objectives.

Finally, try to remember two things.

1. It can happen to anyone.

2. A high percentage of people end up with better jobs than the ones from which they were fired.

Ramon Greenwood is a former Senior Vice President of American Express and career counselor. To subscriber to his free semi-monthly newsletter and blog please go to


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