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What to Do If You Get a Pink Slip

Like every other scary thing you might be faced with in life, once you've experienced it and made it safely to the other side it's not as terrifying as when it's a big unknown. So what do you do if it happens to you?
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The dirty little secret no one wants to tell you is that good economy or bad economy, job security is a myth. All it takes is one new person in charge of your group or one management consultant telling the powers to be how a little reorganization will save money and your day will come. The one when you're handed the dreaded pink slip.

Case in point. Bank of America just reported their second-quarter profit jumped to 63 percent to just over $4 billion despite a revenue increase of only 3.5 percent. According to Bloomberg, one of the ways they achieved the profit was through payroll cuts of 6.6 percent over the last year or 18,300 fewer paychecks.

Enough said.

As you know, I've had some experience with this. I've handed them out and I've had them handed to me. Twice. Like every other scary thing you might be faced with in life, once you've experienced it and made it safely to the other side it's not as terrifying as when it's a big unknown.

So what do you do if it happens to you?

#1. Mourn your loss. This is a big deal. Even if you hated your job, even if you prayed you would be in the next round of layoffs, this was your livelihood. So really mourn. Get out the black clothes and cover yourself in ashes if necessary. Listen to your favorite sad music. Write a hate letter to your former boss and then toss it in the fireplace if that helps to release your angst. (Never mail it!) Greeks believe it takes 40 days to mourn a loss. Your personal cash flow will determine how generous your mourning period will be. Even if you can only afford 24 hours, so be it. Just make sure to get down on your knees and wail.

#2 Do not start interviewing immediately. There is no surer way not to get a job than still seething over the fact you just got fired. Before you want to sit in front of a potential new employer, you have to get clear on what you want to do next. Maybe it won't be interviewing for another job doing the same thing. Maybe this was the Universe telling you (as it was for me) it's time for a change. There will be a host of people suggesting you get out there, right away without pressing pause. I'm not one of them.

#3 Take Care of You. Exercise. Go to the gym. Play tennis. Take a daily walk in the park. Eat healthy foods. Make sure you take a shower and get dressed and out of the house at least once a day. Avoid excessive alcohol.

#4 Purge. This is one of my favorites. Get rid of stuff, especially stuff that connects you to the old job. Purging is cleansing. It feels good. It's part of letting go of what was to make room for what will be.

#5 Get to Know You Again. Between our jobs and our personal lives, if we're not careful it's easy to lose sight of who we really are. This is an opportunity for you to get to know you again. Make a date with yourself and go do one of those things you kept saying you had no time to do.

#6 Avoid the Naysayers. In case you hadn't noticed there are a lot of people out there who are insistent on telling you the sky is falling and you better run scared because there is just "no way, ever," you are going to get a job again, with things "the way they are." They'll say you're too old. Too inexperienced. They prefer to see the hole while others see the donut. Stay clear of these types. You will get another job. But not with their energy surrounding you.

#7 Go Digital. If you've been resisting understanding what all this digital stuff is about, get over it. Two big reasons.

The first is your online profile is your new calling card. Networking and making new connections is no longer limited to in-person cocktail events. It's happening right now, online as I type. That woman you met the other day who is considering you for a job is Googling your name. Right now. Give her something solid and updated to find. And yes, you must include a photo.

The second is that understanding digital is not limited to those who are creating and selling this stuff. To stay marketable today and in the future, you need to be able to use digital tools -- especially social networks.

#8 Learn Something New. Read a book. Take a class in social networking. Learn how to use LinkedIn.

#9 Make New Friends. Widen your circle. We can get complacent when we're in one spot for too long. Get out there and mingle in person whenever you can. If you feel naked without a business card order an inexpensive one from websites like VistaPrint. Stay in contact with the networks you've already cultivated, but be prepared. Some of those you considered your "best buds" might be afraid to get too close to you now for fear what you have (no job) is catching.

#10 Keep a sense of humor. Above all remember to laugh. You lost your job but you did not lose your life. Yes, things might be a little tough for a while, but you will get through it. If you believe you will. Besides every time we laugh we switch our vibration up towards the positive and we burn three calories. What's not to like about that?

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