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The words that strike fear in all working persons - fired, terminated, laid off, let go, dismissed, downsized, rightsized -- mean only one thing: you're back on the market looking for new employment opportunities.

While you may find losing your job hard to deal with, most career experts say the best thing you can do is get right back into the job market -- even if you've gotten a severance package -- rather than sit around being discouraged. And you shouldn't be discouraged -- look at this firing as a chance to start anew with a better opportunity.

How do you deal with being fired in terms of your resume and job-hunting? That's what this article is all about -- getting you in shape to find an even better job than the one you had previously. What follows is the career tune-up checklist.

Decide on a career path or change. If you loved your last position and the industry you worked in, then you can move to the next point. But, if you weren't happy, now is time to think about a career change. What kind of transferable skills did you acquire from your previous employment? For example, if you worked in a college admissions office, but now want to get into sales, you have valuable sales and people skills - transferable skills from one position to another. If you're not sure what you want to do, you should do some self-assessment. You can find some great career assessment tests on the Web.

Tune up that resume. Ideally, you've been keeping your resume current, but if you have not, now is the time to take a hard look at it. Find some great resumes resources here, then:
  • The first thing you need to decide is whether to include the job from which you were terminated on your resume. In most cases, you should include the job -- unless you only worked there a short period of time (less than three months). Show an end date of your previous job. Focus on your accomplishments and achievements.
  • Consider adding -- if you don't already have these sections -- a key accomplishments and transferable skills sections for your resume. Positioning these sections at the top of your resume also means you can downplay your actual employment history ... or at least make it secondary to your accomplishments and skills. A functional resume, rather than a traditional chronological resume, will also serve this purpose.
  • Develop both a traditional formatted resume and a scannable (text-only) resume. Since job-hunting has expanded greatly to include traditional methods as well as online methods, you really need to have both types.
  • Get your resume critiqued. Ask someone in your network -- possibly a former boss or college career office (most work with alumni) to review your new resume(s) and offer constructive criticism. We also offer professional resume critiques

    Resolve whether you are staying or relocating. Now is the time to think about whether enough opportunities exist where you currently live, or whether you need or want to relocate.