If you love your job, the last thing you want to experience is being fired. Or laid off. Unfortunately, this uncomfortable situation is more common than you may think. A recent study revealed that 40% of people are fired from a job in their lifetime. The same study shows that 15.4 million people were fired alone last year.

What you do after such an unfortunate situation is paramount, as it will determine whether you receive the fair benefits due you and if you’ll be able to land another job. Here are some important things you should immediately do after you get fired from your job.

One – Stay Calm and Process Your Emotions

Being fired can be emotionally overwhelming, especially when you feel you haven’t been treated fairly. Understandably, in the heat of the moment, you may lose your cool and act or use words you may regret. So, stay calm, and give yourself time to process the information and your emotions. Being laid off can also feel like it came out of the blue. Yet, you may not be quite as surprised if you’ve noticed the company having financial challenges.

You may experience shock if the bad news comes unexpectedly. It’s easy to feel sad, afraid, and even panic when you think of the challenges your new reality presents, but regardless of how you feel, take a deep breath and remain calm. You might even feel relieved if you’ve been unhappy at work.

The best advice is this: sitting where you are and not speaking for a while. Don’t yield to the temptation of an impulsive response, as you don’t warn to burn bridges before you leave.  It’s a small world and you never know when you will run into a former boss or co-worker during the rest of your career.

Two – Understand Any Rightful Benefits Due

After sorting out your emotions, you need to understand what benefits or compensation your now ex-employer owes you. By law, you should receive a final paycheck if you have just been fired or laid off. You may also be eligible for severance pay and other unemployment benefits. Most US States have similar legal rights, such as the right to continue your healthcare coverage post-termination. You can seek legal advice to ensure your employer does not offer anything less than you deserve. For example, if your service is terminated and your employer presents you with a severance agreement, it’s best to get legal assistance before you sign any document.

Three – Compile A Diary of Events

Be sure to document every step of the situation, including why you were fired.  Or, if you’re laid off, it’s not unreasonable to ask for overall reduction numbers (or percentages. This is crucial as you may need this information when filing for unemployment benefits. Or when a future potential employers ask why you left a previous job. Also, keep copies of every communication with your former employer. You can print copies of emails, texts, or letters. And if it’s a phone conversation, handwrite every important thing you were told over the phone with the dates and times of the conversations.

Four – Reassess Your Finances

The next thing you want to do is reassess or re-evaluate your finances. This is probably a “no brainer” since losing a job means the loss of regular income.  That means you may have to re-budget, cut back on some of your spending, and only prioritize essential expenses.  Now may be the time to tap into your emergency fund, if you’ve created one, to help cushion you through this uncertain period.  If you don’t have an emergency fund, your best option is to cancel all unnecessary or luxury expenses and start thinking of a way to earn a passive income. You can also tap into your unemployment benefits while hunting for a new opportunity.

Five – Think About What You Want in the Future Career Wise

Sometimes the upside of getting fired or being laid off is what lies ahead. Often clients have confessed they often were unhappy or dissatisfied with a job they recently lost. Once you get on the other side of the emotions of losing your job, it’s time to focus on the future. What do you desire work wise? Is it time to shift directions? Is going back to school for additional training or education a possibility?

Losing a job is definitely a roller coaster. Just remember that when you stay calm and in control of your emotions in the moment, it’s an opportunity to look to a better future for yourself.

Is a career change just what you need to love life more? It’s never too late to make a change.

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