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Lose your job, not your dignity

Are you red-faced after a recent job loss? Here’s how to react to the announcement and make the best of a scary situation.

Before becoming the owner of a successful Vancouver art gallery, Pantea Haghighi had more than her share of job disappointments. “It isn’t easy, but when you get the bad news, don’t look back. Believe it or not, this might actually be an amazing opportunity!” Ms. Haghighi should know: her busy gallery is now in its third year of business and it keeps her positive and focused on the future.

Despite the encouragement we get from others, losing a job can be traumatic. Jamila Low, a job training professional in San Francisco, California, shares a few career-savvy tips for turning loss into opportunity.

Cry all you want but don’t take it personally

“Initially you have to grieve the loss,” says Low, suggesting you take a few days to regroup. Then, she says, you’ve got to bite the bullet and talk to your boss. “Pick yourself up and have a candid conversation with your employer. Try to remain calm and objective. It may just be that the company is downsizing. Other times there’s a performance issue. This is the perfect time to learn from the past. Though it might be unpleasant, there’s no better way to help bulletproof your future career.”

Focus on the positive and get busy!

Low suggests taking a proactive approach to your situation.

If you like the company and if you left on good terms, ask your boss if there are other positions available. Ask for letters of recommendation and let your boss know what it is you want in a job.

She also recommends talking to anyone who will listen about what kind of work you are looking for. “Don’t underestimate the power of networking to get you where you want to be!”

Believe it or not, this is a golden opportunity!

As painful as it is, losing a job can be an invaluable experience. It’s important to see this as an opportunity to figure out exactly what kind of job you want

Low recommends making a list of your lost job’s pros and cons as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. “Be specific,” she says, “This will help you focus on what kind of job best suits you and what exactly you want to do. A lot of people get stuck in jobs that aren’t exactly right – for years! This is an opportunity to move closer to your dream job. In fact, your employer may have just done you a favour!”

Pantea Haghighi couldn’t agree more. “Once I made up my mind to cut my losses and do what I really wanted, nothing else mattered. Sure, change is scary, but now no matter how tired I am, when I get to work, I feel excited. That’s a real shift from all those jobs that just weren’t quite right.”