Aug. 6, 2009 -- You may know me as the show's workplace contributor, traveling the country with "GMA," producing job fairs and launching job clubs to help people who have lost their jobs get back in the game.
What you might not know about me is that I've got a scar to prove I've been there, too. After learning the hard way how to recover from a pink slip, I've written a new book to lessen the pain for others.
"Fired to Hired: Bouncing Back From Job Loss to Get Work Right Now" is designed to help anyone go from out-of-work to on-the-job.
First step, party. As in pity party. As much as I encourage everyone to focus on the positive, we all know that losing a job is devastating. It's absurd to think you'll get the pink slip one minute and start sending out your resume the next. You have a free pass to open the floodgates on your emotions -- mope, drive everyone crazy. But there's a catch: a time limit. One to two weeks tops, then it's time to buckle down. My mistake was a pity party that lasted for more months than I'd like to admit. I don't want that to happen to you.
The hard truth is that all of our jobs are temporary and whether by choice or circumstance, at some point we all must move on. This is your time to take control of your life.
Face the music about money. The next step is to face the reality of your finances. How much you have and how much you need to get by. First, file for unemployment immediately. Then sit down with a legal pad and list your monthly expenses -- rent or mortgage, utilities, credit cards, food -- all of your expenses. Then list how much money you have saved and how much will be coming in. Those numbers probably won't balance out, so you'll have to cut costs -- kissing all the extras goodbye. Then figure out how long you can go before you won't be able to meet your monthly obligations. You can't hide from this information; it will help you make smart choices in the job hunt ahead.
Turn a pink slip into a possibility. This is something very close to my heart, because my "what's next" really changed my life. I was forced to figure out what I really want to do. Find the blessing -- not the curse -- in being out of work. Unemployment means you can truly move in any direction you'd like, so do some serious brainstorming and heartstorming to listen to your inner passion. If I hadn't been fired, I may have stayed in publicity and missed out on the career I have now and dearly love, which is the privilege of producing events and touring the country to help others realize their dreams.
In "Fired to Hired," I cover my favorite work from home opportunities. I focus on how to pursue an externship. I devote a chapter on starting a job club. I offer lots of ideas to help you figure out what you want to do -- and to help you make it happen.
Shout out your goals with gusto. Once you know what you want, shout out your goals with gusto. Spread the net and spread it wide. Create a network of people who can help you make your dreams a reality. Embrace the 60/40 rule of making connections: 60 percent of your job search time should be done face-to-face, 40 percent can be focused online. And just like any relationship -- don't just talk about what you need -- listen to the needs of others. Sometimes you'll spot a void that you'd like to fill.
Celebrate the small stuff. Celebrate your victories, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Finding a job is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep your energy up. Find something to celebrate every day. A call was returned, you got leads on new contacts, even that your e-mails went through without being bounced back. It takes lots of teeny weeny victories to score the big banana of a job offer.
While I was working on "Fired to Hired," a dean at New York University shared an anecdote that he often relays to his adult students who feel frustrated in their job search.
A fly was banging its body against a window as it tried to get out of a small room. Banging, banging, banging non-stop in an effort to escape, until finally it dropped dead. All the while, just a few feet away was an open door. The moral: we don't always have to try harder.
Sometimes the solution is to try smarter. If you're doing the same thing every day (No. 1 mistake: sending out resumes on the big job boards hour after hour, day after day and following the same strategy month after month to find work, and nothing's working and the phone's not ringing, stop and reset your switch. It's time to wipe the slate clean and rethink your tactics to try something totally fresh.
Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on ABC's "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women For Hire. Shes the author of "From Fired to Hired." Connect with her at www.womenforhire.com or chat with her on Twitter.com/ToryJohnson.