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Fired? Five tips for rebounding

By Laura Morsch
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( -- Simma Lieberman said she didn't even like her job working in sports medicine for a clinic, but that didn't ease the sting of getting fired without warning.

"The doctor always paid me late, and then hired someone who he could pay half of what he paid me," she said. "I found out [I was fired] when I called for my schedule of patients and was told they just didn't have anything for me to do that week -- or any other week."

Lieberman was able to pick up the pieces and start her own business, now working as a consultant, speaker and author. While her experience was personally traumatic, it is hardly unusual.

Studies estimate that as many as one-in-three workers can expect to be fired in their professional lifetimes. And it's not just obvious missteps that will do you in.

Poor performance will get you terminated, but so can having a personality conflict with the wrong people or having a work style that doesn't fit with the company culture. And don't think that companies don't take their written policies and technology and other issues seriously.

Anna Stevens* was fired last May for violating her company's policy that work computers should be used for business only -- even though her boss was equally guilty of online shopping.

"I was getting some personal e-mails and visiting non-work related Web sites like eBay," she said. "I was told that while my use was not excessive, it did violate the zero tolerance policy."

While it may sting the ego, getting fired does not have to be a negative thing.

Robert Smith was fired from his job reading newspapers for a research company in 2002 -- and says it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He now owns Robert Smith & Associates, a six-person PR agency.

"If I wasn't fired, I would still probably be making $8 an hour and struggling to take care of my wife and kids," he said. "I should send my former employer a thank-you card."

To ensure that your termination turns into an opportunity:

1. Leave with class.

It's normal to be frustrated -- even furious -- but don't burn bridges by making a scene. Your former boss and co-workers can still serve as references and provide you with good job leads.

2. Find out why you were fired.

If your employer simply says the company is going in a different direction, ask what weaknesses he sees in you as a worker that you can apply to future positions. It can't hurt to ask.

3. Don't rush anything.

Take a week or so to accept what has happened and reflect on how you may have caused the situation. Then, develop a plan to guide your job search.

4. Network.

Reach out to your friends, co-workers and other contacts to let them know you're looking for a new position. You may be surprised by the leads they have.

5. Reflect on what you really want.

Chances are, you weren't fully satisfied by your former job. Getting fired may be just the push you needed to get started on a different path. Sit down and reflect upon what you did and didn't like about your last position, and plan out your goals for the future.

*Not her real name

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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