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You’ve been fired, laid off, rendered redundant. Yet, no matter what the reason you were released, you never saw it coming.

That’s true of most people who have experienced an “involuntary job separation,” says Annie Stevens, managing partner with ClearRock, a Boston-based outplacement and executive coaching firm.

ClearRock suggests learning these lessons from a job loss—or preparing yourself for that possibility—so you can more easily dust yourself off and land the next job:

Differentiate your career from your job. Jobs come and go, says Stevens. “Your career, however, is the sum of all the jobs you have held, your accomplishments with these employers, your educational achievements and your acquired learning.”

Performance matters, so look for warning signs that your job is in trouble. Examples: A mediocre or worse performance evaluation, failure to achieve one or two important tasks you were hired to do, being discouraged from attending conferences or seminars, or colleagues not making direct eye contact with you as often.

Keep your career network up-to-date. “Keep your résumé updated, stay in touch with people you may need to network with if unemployed and continually make new potential networking contacts at trade associations, community meetings and other events,” Stevens says.

Ask for a personalized, written letter of recommendation if you’re laid off or downsized. The letter should mention tasks you’ve completed and skills you possess. It might just help you land the next job.

Don’t rush into a search for a new job if you’re displaced. “If performance-related reasons for your being released were a factor, you may need to update your skills, change your attitude, or try to transfer your experience to a career for which you are better suited,” says Greg Gostanian, managing partner with ClearRock.

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