There is no U in team

In my book, I included a section with the above title.  It means that you’ve been fired, or maybe just laid off.  Note: If you like the phrase and want to reuse it, give me credit as I believe I’m the first to use it.

Losing your job isn’t easy.  OK, it sucks.  There are many situations that can get you there and many ways that it can actually happen, but either way, you find yourself unemployed.  The question now isn’t what happened, it’s what happens next.

First, don’t burn any bridges.  Seriously.  Don’t badmouth the company or the people in public.  You may find that years later, you have an opportunity to return under different circumstances and you don’t want to rule that out just because you’re angry now.

Next, negotiate the best severance package possible.  The default package from your employer isn’t set in stone.  You may be able to get more money by getting your vacation time added to your monetary package, or you may be able to talk them into extending your health care for an extra month or more.  It can’t hurt to ask.

Of course, apply for unemployment insurance.  Unless you’re positive that you’ll have another job in no time at all, start the process.  You may have to wait a month or two, but do the research and get started on the paperwork (or web forms).

Now comes the hard part: evaluating what happened.  This can happen in a variety of circumstances and they’re all different.  For example, let’s say your whole group was laid off from your company because they weren’t paying for themselves.  I used to work for a company that was notorious for creating “strategic” projects and products.  Unfortunately, those projects were often free to customers and that made the group a red line on someone’s budget.  Want to guess who might be the first group to go when the upper management needed to cut expenses?  Suddenly strategy wasn’t as important and making money.  If your company does this, think twice about being part of that group unless you can constantly justify its continued existence.

If you’ve been fired, you have a different set of problems.  The first thing to do is accept some responsibility for your own part.  Even if your boss was a complete jerk, you couldn’t find a way to work out the situation or keep your head down or manipulate him/her or get a transfer.  It takes two people to create a problem.  To be fair, sometimes your boss does have it in for you, but that’s life, unfortunately.  If you’re still alive and not physically or horribly emotionally scarred, then you’re going to have to get past it.  When emotional issues arise, take some time to write down your thoughts and feelings.  The book “59 seconds” says that research shows that writing down your feelings is better than talking with someone about them.  Either way, a little emotional healing will get you ready to get back to work.

Your job now is to find a job.  Treat it like that.  Start hitting the newspaper, internet, and personal network.  Get past the HR department and get the name of the hiring manager.  Remember that at some point (hopefully most of the time) you were and are a rock star developer.  Your experiences have made you who you are and you’ve learned from them.  Even if you lost your last job because you started to lose your passion, you can find it again with a new opportunity, in a new company, with new people and new challenges.  Now get going.