Whether you were fired for cause or fell victim to a recent round of layoffs, finding yourself out of a job is a tough spot to be in. Not only might you go from comfortable to cash-strapped, but there's also that not-so-minor blow to your self-esteem that you'll need to recover from. Still, knowing what pitfalls to avoid following the loss of a job can help make an unlucky situation less damaging on a whole. Here are a few mistakes you'll need to steer clear of.

1. Losing touch with your former colleagues

If you established personal relationships with your former coworkers, chances are you'll be motivated enough to keep in touch even though you're no longer at the same company. But if your colleagues weren't necessarily your friends, you may not make quite the same effort to stay in contact. That's a mistake, though.

Man sitting on steps holding his head while reading a letter, with a cardboard box full of items next to him

Image source: Getty Image.

First of all, since you and your coworkers are clearly part of the same industry, it stands to reason that someone from your old company might come across a job opening that's perfect for you. But if your name doesn't register in that person's mind because you've been incommunicado, that opportunity might end up going to somebody else. Furthermore, you never know when you might need a professional reference, and having former colleagues on hand to sing your praises could help you land a new job more quickly.

2. Badmouthing your previous employer

It's natural to feel bitter when a company lets you go. Be that as it may, don't make the mistake of badmouthing your former employer on social media or, worse yet, during a job interview. Doing so will only make you seem unprofessional and, depending on the terms of your separation and the things you're saying, it could actually open the door to a lawsuit against you. Instead, keep your cool, and when asked in interviews why things turned out the way they did, do your best to stick to the facts without bringing emotion into the picture.

3. Not networking aggressively

Losing a job can damage your ego, so you may not feel like reaching out to people right away and informing them of your plight. But if you don't get out there and network, you might end up sentencing yourself to a longer-than-necessary period of unemployment. Consider this: Between 2015 and 2016, 85% of open jobs were filled via networking, or so reports LinkedIn. So swallow your pride and ask for help. Chances are, the people you've met over the years will be more than happy to assist.

4. Wallowing in your misery

It hurts to lose a job, even if you did have it coming. So by all means, give yourself a day or two to sit around the house moping over your misfortune. Once that self-pity period expires, however, dust off your resume, start reading the job boards, and reach out to the former colleagues and associates we just talked about. The more time you spend bemoaning the situation, the longer you're apt to remain unemployed, and that could hurt you mentally and financially. If you throw yourself into finding a new job, you might manage to push aside those negative sentiments and feel better about yourself on the whole.

Losing a job is hard, no matter how you look at it. Just realize that you have the power to turn an unfortunate situation into a productive one. And who knows? If you play your cards right, the next job you land could end up being far better than the one you were ousted from.