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Protect yourself when you are terminated unexpectedly

Learning that you lost your job when you didn't know that it was on the line is a traumatic experience. When you are in this situation, it is easy to get angry and act in an unprofessional manner. Taking that path may harm your future career, so make sure that you take a step back and behave like the professional you are.

Your priority at this point has to be protecting your finances. Make sure that you get your final compensation from your employer. Make sure that you review this to ensure that you received what you were entitled to. If you have an employment contract, go over it to find out what, if any, special compensation you are due upon termination. In some cases, this depends on the reason for termination.

Write out a new resume so that you have it handy to apply for new positions. You should have printed versions to bring to interviews but having an online copy is helpful since many companies ask you to upload a copy when you apply via the internet. Remember that even a part-time job might be beneficial at this point.

You might be able to file for unemployment. This is usually possible if you were terminated for reasons other than misconduct. If you aren't sure if you will be able to receive benefits, it might be best to file, so you can know for certain.

Some terminations aren't lawful even in at-will employment states. If your employer terminated you for a protected reason, such as for reporting discrimination or harassment, you might have a wrongful termination claim. You can evaluate this possibility and take steps accordingly.

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