Despite the success of the Cash for Clunkers program and other government incentives to boost consumer spending, are you optimistic about the state of the job market? wowOwow's work, relationship and money expert Paula Forman isn't. Forman predicts that the unemployment rate -- now 9.4% in the United States -- will continue to rise.
"They say the recession is over ... Yeah, sure," says Forman, the co-author of The Hourglass Solution: A Boomer's Guide to the Rest of Your Life. "I still believe unemployment will reach 10%."

So, if you are the next unfortunate Joe to receive a pink slip, here are five things to do right after you get fired to a.) help you land your next gig and b.) get your head on straight.

1) Apply for unemployment insurance. Right now. You won't want to; there are many excuses – "I'll have a new job before I get the first payment"; "It is embarrassing, a stigma"; "It means I really was fired." Some people think they are ineligible for a variety of reasons, including receiving severance pay (you are still eligible) or length of tenure. Find out. It is your money. You earned it. The process is easy and in most states can be handled online.

2) Fed-Ex Office (formerly Kinko's) is your new best friend. Now that the expensive machinery that makes corporate America work is no longer available to you, you have to find another way. Fed-Ex can do anything in any amount of time and it will look professional and they can send it out, too. Drop by the one near you and take a look. You will feel better when you realize you are not helpless.

3) Don't make lunch dates with people who have a job. They will inevitably cancel (because they have to – it's not personal) and you will have planned your whole day around a non-happening event. If you want to network – and you should – offer to meet the other person at their office and stay no longer than 15 minutes. Be direct, ask for their help, then be gone.

4) Write five different sentences that begin with the words "I got fired because I ..." The point is to own the experience – not be a victim of it. "I got fired because my boss was a jerk" doesn't cut it. Even if it's true. You need to understand that there were options; you need to take responsibility for what happened to you or you can't take responsibility for what's going to happen.

5) Write a new resume. Send it to one person you trust for review and comments. A Web page is the 21st century format. Try it.

Paula Forman has more tips on what to do when you get fired.

wowOwow.com is a Web site aimed at influential women over 40, much like its distinguished founders and contributors, which include Marlo Thomas, Lesley Stahl, Candice Bergen, Liz Smith, Joni Evans, Mary Wells and Whoopi Goldberg.

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