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Never say this when an employer asks why you were fired

October 17, 2015, 5:00 PM UTC

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you bounce back after getting fired?” is by Clark Valberg, CEO of InVision.

We all go through tough times. But being fired? That’s really tough—it can rock you to your core. But those who have bounced back know that having the right mindset is critical for crossing the next bridge. Like Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers, success doesn’t come from winning all the time. It comes from having a healthy approach to failure. If you keep your wits about you, you can turn a big disappointment into your greatest success. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make that happen:

The shock and pain of being fired leads many to launch into their next search prematurely, without taking adequate time to process grief. Be sure to take time to reflect first, this will prevent a knee-jerk dive into the job market. Set a hard date to mark the end of your grieving—then, and only then, get moving.

Nurture your relationships
It may feel natural, maybe even good, to cut ties with everything — and everyone — associated with your last job. Don’t. Nurture the valuable relationships you created there. If you disappear completely, you might lose those connections forever.

Take stock
Without assuming anyone will ever see it, create a list of your greatest accomplishments at your previous role. Be honest, and don’t edit yourself. Just because it didn’t work out with your current employer doesn’t mean you should throw away all you accomplished.

See also: Why this CEO won’t judge you for getting fired

Be realistic
We often look back through rose-colored glasses at what we’ve lost. Loss aversion, a part of prospect theory, says we feel our losses three times more profoundly than our gains. Just as you were honest about your accomplishments, also identify what could have used improvement in your last role and any creative blockers you may have been carrying with you.

Get your story straight
There’s nothing more revealing to an employer than a prospective employee who brushes off a job departure with the old line, “It just didn’t work out.” Be thoughtful about how you want to explain your job history. Be prepared to stand up to scrutiny, and know that those of us who are hiring aren’t looking for perfect—we’re looking for perfecting.

Try something new
Once you feel ready to start looking for a new job, go about your search differently this time. Lean into those warm relationships you nurtured in step two and let them buoy you. And use the lists you made in steps three and four to clearly identify exactly what you want your next career step to be.

Read all responses to the Leadership Insider question: How do you bounce back after getting fired?”

Why getting fired can be a good thing by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.