You’ve just been told the company's downsizing - and you're one of those downsized. There are things you can say and do before leaving your seat to ensure a smoother transition to whatever comes next – and hyperventilating is not on the list.

There are things you can do to turn this devastating event into a positive. Here are 5 that I recommend to clients:

1. Stay calm and composed. Don’t vent your anger on the folks whose misfortune it is to deliver the news. These same people might be able to assist you in the future – if you leave a favorable impression.

2. Mention any ongoing projects you’re working on, and offer to work 20 to 30 hours per week as an independent contractor to complete them or assist with transitioning your responsibilities to others.

3. Negotiate the severance package as you would a salary. Don’t assume whatever they hand you across the table is all there is. The worst they can say is "No." If time allows, have a labor-law attorney review package details before signing anything.

4. Ask for outplacement coaching with a coach who has solid experience in it. Having a 'career partner' will help you with the transition.  Formerly busy people often find it depressing to be waking up with nothing on their calendar and nobody on their side.

5. Take two or three days to mourn the loss of your job. Get it out of your system as soon as possible -then do something to symbolically bury your old job so it’s easier to move on - things like burning the business cards or throwing out logo T-Shirts.  Reminders can cause further anger or depression.

My guess is that most people in the western world will have at least 5 'careers' in their life. If you've had fewer you're either great or lucky.  But the future calls for more and shorter career life spans for most of us.  Career winners will keep that in their mind and act accordingly.