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What not to do when you lose your job

Published Feb. 26, 2016

Losing a job often is a traumatic experience. It's normal to feel lost, hurt and overwhelmed as you try to get a handle on what you should do after this major, and often unexpected, change. It's important to act from a position of strength and knowledge, however, rather than reacting emotionally to the loss.

Here are four things to avoid at all costs after losing your job.

Delay signing up for unemployment

In most cases, unemployment benefits don't start until weeks after your application is accepted, says Denise P. Kalm of Kalm Kreative.

"State governments take a long time, and you need to get this going," she explains. "They may start later as they factor in some time based on your severance package. Get this done immediately."

If you already have another job lined up, you may not be eligible, but check online regarding your state's unemployment rules to see if you can collect.

Take it personally

"Even good people are casualties of downsizing," says Tonya Tiggett of Speak Our Language. "Companies are constantly changing operations to be more efficient and have to make tough decisions at times to let good people go."

Lynda Zugec of the Workforce Consultants agrees. "One of the most damaging things someone can do when they lose their job is harbor negative feelings for an extended period of time.

"Although it can be difficult to stay positive shortly after job loss, holding on to such feelings can create greater problems and frustrations, which work against you when you are searching for a new position," she says. "You may end up in a cycle of negative thinking followed by unsuccessful attempts at interviews and so on."

Kalm recommends giving yourself some time to grieve your loss and taking the time to take a long-view look at your career to figure out what it is you really want to be doing.

Liquidate your 401(k)

It's scary when you don't know where your next paycheck is coming from, but "don't panic," even if you're tempted to start withdrawing money from your investment and retirement accounts, says Trellis Usher, president and CEO of the T.R. Ellis Group.

"Resist the urge to do this right away and give yourself some time to put together a reasonable plan," she explains. "Are there savings that you can use? Did you receive a severance package or compensation for unused vacation time? Do you have an emergency fund that will hold you over for a couple of months?" Also look for ways to reduce expenses while you're looking for your next job.

Bad-mouth your former employer

Although it's tempting, resist the urge to talk trash about your former company, Tiggett says. "Regardless of the reason you are no longer working for a company, by focusing on the positive aspects of your previous employer or of your previous job, you will come across as someone who is resilient and professional.

"You never know when your previous employer may have jobs reopen and could call you back," Tiggett says. "The old adage of not burning any bridges is surprisingly true no matter how many years tend to go by." It's always possible that someone you worked with in the past could someday be in a position to hire you.

© 2016 — Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster.com. To see other career-related articles, visit career-advice.monster.com. For recruitment articles, visit hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices.aspx.

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