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Getting Fired Is Awesome: 5 Ways Job Loss Can Boost Your Career

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So you lost your job—and you weren’t exactly laid off. Maybe budget cutbacks were involved somehow, but deep down, you know the truth: Lots of people in the company are still in their chairs, and you aren’t one of them. And maybe there’s no ambiguity about your situation at all. Some firings are firings, plain and simple. The phrase “get the heck outta here” isn’t usually tossed out in the event of a “cutback.”

In any case, it’s time for you to go. And as you walk out the door, here’s one thing you’ll immediately learn about the path ahead: getting fired sucks. In the initial aftermath, everything from your career to your financial security to your friendships seems threatened.

But getting fired is an important life lesson. Overcoming job loss will teach you lessons that other people simply won’t get the chance to learn. Once the initial shock of being fired wears off, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Here are the five highlights of losing your job:

1. Firings are for bad-assess only

Are you a mouse? Are you a nervous, obedient little handwringer who lives to please and trembles in the face of disapproval? Maybe you were once…but not anymore.

Welcome to a new kind of club. You’re now among those who speak their minds, who get things wrong, who make mistakes, who fight back, who try, fail and try again, and who wear dark sunglasses and rev their motorcycles really loud. Even if you step back into the corporate world at some point, you still get to keep your membership card. Hold onto that card—it may help you. And you’ve earned it.

2. Firings break the walls that hold us in

After you’ve been fired, you’ll no longer fear being fired in the future. And this fear is one of the major obstacles that prevents people from accomplishing the things they really want to accomplish. Once you’re over the first few rough days, prepare to view the world in a broader and more flexible way.

3. Firings demonstrate that you’re growing, learning and alive

Interviewers like to see signs of growth and energy, so they often ask candidates to describe their mistakes and what they’ve learned from them. Then they yawn and roll their eyes while Mousy Miltons (see item 1) launch into rambling stories about the time they almost got a B-minus (oh, the terror!) in English 201.

You, on the other hand, have a real story. Tell it, and bring the house down.

4. Firings help you understand people

Losing your job—or any gloomy experience, really—can teach you what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a sucky experience. This knowledge can take your mind, your relationships, your life and your career to new heights. Empathy is a valuable trait and skill, and it’s easier to understand what others are going through when your own range of experience is wide and deep.

5. Firings are by no means a deal-breaker in most careers

Some of the best and boldest minds in every field have been fired at least once or twice. Why? Because of items 1 through 4. And because those who tend to get fired typically have some passion and recklessness in their bellies to begin with.

Now that you’re back on the market, it’s time for the next step: Channel this messy energy—the brilliant, white-hot star that is yourself—into a job that actually lines up with your skills, personality and true ambitions.

Jenny Treanor is a career advisor and job search expert who provides consultation for staffing firms, hiring managers and job seekers across every industry. Her blogs and articles appear regularly on LiveCareer, home of America’s #1 Resume Builder.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • Angie

    Terrific and true…while I did not get fired, I resigned before that occurred and it was the best decision I ever made. I am not a mouse and realized I never will be and I am thankful for it. I approached the next job search with an attitude that I have something to offer and that my current employer wanted what me and what I had to offer. I and they have not regretted it since. For those of you out there reading her post, LISTEN and LEARN, you are not a mouse so stop acting like one and make something happen!…ARF- Charleston, SC

  • Frankie

    I beg to disagree about getting fired. It’s the most humiliating and demeaning experience one goes through in life – the ultimate rejection! Working in the field of radio for 20 years, you would think I would of grown a backbone about being fired. It happens a great deal in radio, especially when a new program director comes in with “his” people. (His is correct – radio is a “guy” business. For every 20 men, there’s a woman.) You lose everything you’ve ever worked for and you have to start over again. You feel that your image is tarnished. You become depressed. Eventually, you do find a new job and move on. But you never forget that feeling of no one caring. Better yet – how about bettering yourself with a Master’s degree and not being able to find work for six years? You take two years off to change direction in your career, graduate and then the biggest recession next to the Great Depression hits. Six years post graduation, the only thing you’ve been able to find are underemployment odd jobs that don’t pay the bills. I feel like I’m jumping through hoops at a circus for recruiters anymore. What does it take to get a job this day in age?

  • Pingback: A Blessing in Disguise: 6 Ways Getting Fired Can Boost Your Career

  • Robin

    I found the Change Cycle Model (http://www.changecycle.com/changecycle.htm)
    very helpful when undergoing a change in jobs. I’m still struggling/working through the negativity and self-doubt that I carry from my prior expereince while I acclimate to a new job. While the change is hard, I’m having new and exciting experiences, not to mention a work environment/culture that is more aligned with my sensiblities.

  • jrandom421

    Getting fired is SO NOT AWESOME, especially if you were fired for:
    1. Killing or maiming people
    2. Anything that get you arrested, indicted and jailed
    3. Anything that makes you look racist, sexist, and/or homophobic
    4. Being ragingly, proudly and publicly incompetent and clueless

  • Gwen Merle

    My experience was exactly like you describe. I was forced to make future plans and wishes and it totally worked out. Besides a raise of about 25% I found a job that is so me and where I get all the support I need for my development as a young employee. I am working there for seven months now and I am happy how I was forced off the sofa to change my life…