“YOU’RE FIRED!!!” It sounds like the end of the world, but believe me, it’s not. Dwelling on it won’t help.

1. Embrace the Opportunity

Let’s move forward and look towards your next awesome job. Often times, getting fired is an opportunity in disguise. It forces you to make a change and you can often make a change for the better after being fired. A lot of times, people stay at their job even if there are better opportunities out there, because it is secure and comfortable.

Unless you were fired for doing something severely unethical, so unethical that a quick Google will show the damage to your reputation, getting fired won’t hurt your chances in getting a new job. Few people know, no one new will know, and few people really care. There is no public record of whether you were fired or quit, and often past employers won’t even confirm either way due to liability reasons and not wanting to get sued.

The only tangible factor working against you is it will be harder to get a job when you don’t have one currently.

2. Accept What Happened

After getting fired you will experience many emotional reactions; pity, anger, fear, heartbreak.  It all obviously depends on the circumstances under which you were fired. The most important thing you can do immediately after getting fired is accept what happened. It does not matter if you had a horrible boss or if there was a company-wide layoff. You must time to accept your current situation.

3. Do Not Burn Bridges!!!

What I am about to say may sound counter intuitive, but stick with me. Even though your boss or your old company decides to fire you, it does not mean that they will not give you a good reference, so please don’t challenge the decision or question their competency (especially using expletives). This is the most important time to show you are a professional and are valuable. Also, don’t publicly disparage your boss to your co-works or criticize him or her during job interviews. It is natural for other employers to fear you’ll do the same to them.

The only reason to “Burn Bridges” is if you have a verifiable complaint, for example if you were fired because of your religion, sex, race, or any other protected class.

4. Start Networking and Harness the References You Currently Have

Immediately start getting the word out to your network that you are looking for a new position. Also, concentrate on quickly adding new people to your network in your industry. Connect with everyone you can that you worked with or interacted with at your old position. Approaching them out of the blue later may be too late.

Get letters of recommendation from any co-workers that you left on good terms with. Ask a select few co-workers that you trust if it is ok to use them as references and get the letters or approval now. Again, it is much harder once you do not see them every day and call them out of the blue for a favor.

5. Polish up the Resume & LinkedIn

I think we all understand how important our Resumes and LinkedIn profiles are in our job search.  Stop reading this now and work on it. Scrutinize each and perfect the way they portray you.

– What to tell a new employer about why you “LEFT”

When you describe your last job you don’t have to say I was fired or I quit. You simply say that you left. For example, here is a sentence you might say in an interview:

“I left my last job about a month ago and I’ve been  ___________________  since.”

Then you can insert one of the following in the blank:

A. Consulting / Starting Your Own Business – Start doing some freelance work. Do it for free if you can’t get paid for your skill set. Just because you are doing work for free is irrelevant. No one needs to know what your rate was as that is a private matter between you and your client. This gives you a plausible reason for why you left your last job. You wanted to run your own business, and you did, but now you are back looking for a team and more stability.

B. Volunteering – Spend some time giving back to charities that you like. You now have the time. Do some good in your community so that you can come back with a positive response.

C. Traveling – Mention that you always wanted to take a trip to (insert vacation) and that you decided it was a perfect time during a career transition. Some people say that employers look at these extended vacations as an indication that you are not motivated, but that’s not always true. Think about the conversation that you would have with potential employer to explain that you had always wanted to take this trip, now you have checked it off your list, and you are ready to get back to your career.

D. Off the Top of your Head – AKA Winging It. Again you don’t have to indicate you were fired, but you will let your employer know you left the previous job, and are currently unemployed. The rest is up to your winging it ways.

Now you know how to get a job after being fired. So get out there, no excuses, and make it happen!