How To Use Getting Fired To Your Advantage, According To Career Experts

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One Friday in February 2015, I was taking the day off work to host a friend from out of town when I got a call from my company’s CEO. “We’ve done some restructuring, and all of marketing and sales were laid off,” he told me. That included me. I was scared, but kind of excited. Finally, I had a chance to reinvent myself.

I’d been working in marketing for a software company while pursuing my dream of writing on nights and weekends. Everyone told me writing was just not financially stable. But in the weeks following my layoff, while I was searching for other supposedly lucrative tech jobs, I wrote just to pass the time, and my freelance writing career unexpectedly took off. Within two months, I realized I didn’t need to work in tech, and within a year, I was making six figures. If I hadn’t been laid off, I never would’ve taken that risk, and I probably would’ve still been trudging away at a desk, feigning an enthusiasm for Hadoop architecture and trying to convince people that big data personalization software will revolutionize every industry. (Not saying it won’t, I just honestly DGAF.)

I know, I know — but I was laid off. It wasn’t personal. What if you’re actually fired? I’ve been in that situation too. One day during my senior year of college, my boss at the academic journal I'd been working for called me into her office and told me it just wasn't working. "Are you firing me?" I asked, and she regretfully nodded her head. She felt I was falling short in the detail-oriented aspects of the job. I took this to heart and began to doubt my abilities. But then, at my next job, my manager raved about how detail-oriented I was. Then, I went on to become an editor for several big publications. I may have not been performing my best at that college job, but I didn’t take my supervisor’s evaluation as a definitive statement on who I am. Instead, I just become all the more determined to show I actually did possess the skills she required and more.

My point is, losing your job can be a blessing if you treat it like one. Here are some ways you can not just bounce back from being fired but actually use it to you advantage and thrive more than you were before.

1Learn From Feedback

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As my story shows, a manager’s feedback is not a statement about who you innately are as a person. It's just about how you have behaved at that particular job (or at least how they perceive you to behave). You may or may not behave that way in future jobs. So, use the feedback as motivation to behave differently in the future. Show them just how detail-orientated or forward-thinking or whatever you are. Overcompensate for your supposed shortcomings, and they may soon not be your shortcomings at all. They may be your strengths because they were once perceived as your shortcomings.

“Sometimes, there is truly something to learn as far as your own performance,” Samantha Siffring, a life coach at joinblush.com and tbhcoach.com, tells Bustle. “Were you in way over your head and never asked for help? Were you doing great but never communicated? Were you spending more time on Pinterest than working? Other times, the lesson to learn is that you were trying to make something work that isn't you. Many incredible entrepreneurs were fired (or quit) because they found it hard to work for someone else. Is this the nudge you need to start working for your own dream instead of someone else's?”

2Consider That This Was Actually For The Better

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When I lost that job in college, I really thought it was a bad thing. But the truth was, between that and my other job working in a psychology lab and my role with the school paper and my three majors, it was way more than I could handle. Plus, losing it motivated me to apply for an editor job for a new company that I still work with today. The point is, even if you can’t see it now, your firing may work out for the better. Just go with it. Ask yourself: “If I look back on this as an advantage years from now, what would have happened?” And then make that happen. You can believe everything happens for a reason, but you can also make a conscious choice to make everything work out for the better so that it’ll seem that way.

“Responsible, loyal people will often stay in jobs long after the joy is gone,” Rhonda Sciortino, author of SUCCEED BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH, tells Bustle. “Getting fired frees us up to step back, take a breath, and do the work of evaluating our strengths, skills, character traits, and interests. Once we are clear on our unique combination of assets, our awesomeness, we can use our awesomeness to create the rewarding lives we were created and perfectly matched to live.”

3Take Advantage Of Your Time Off

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When you have time off, you can use it to do the things you always wished you could do if you didn’t have so much damn work. For me, that was writing. For inspirational speaker Kevin Huhn, that was travel. “About five years ago, a company downsized and laid me off,” he tells Bustle. “But guess what — got a six-month package and was able to take a one-year trip across Canada, which led me to where I am today: living my mission of helping others succeed and live their dreams." This taught him that "even in a bad situation, good things happen.”

4Reassess What You Want

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It takes two to tango, so if your job wasn’t right for you, chances are that’s not just on you — it’s also on the job itself. “More often than not, getting fired means you were in a job or company that was not a match for you,” Mary Beth Ferrante, career coach and founder of Live.Work.Lead, tells Bustle. “You need to identify the core issues that led to you getting fired, whether it's that the role didn't align with your strengths and interests, the culture fit was off, or you and your boss simply didn't see eye-to-eye.”

Don’t place all the blame on yourself. Instead, think about why your previous job was not the best environment for you to thrive in and what kind of environment you might thrive in more. You can also think about what you did like about your job, says Ferrante, so you can find something else that provides that.

5Enlist Help

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“Sometimes our biggest challenge is not knowing what types of jobs are out there that match our talents,” says Ferrante. So, ask your entire network to recommend positions for you and introduce you to people who can help you land them. I used LinkedIn’s alumni feature to find people in fields I wanted to pursue and set up informational interviews. I ended up learning about a job opening that become my first steady writing gig that way, then I got an internship using the same method.

Remember, getting fired doesn't have to mark the end of your career. More likely, it marks the beginning of an even better one.