Work on your job-search techniques if you’ve been fired

175207152Have you been fired? Losing a job is never an easy topic to discuss, particularly if you were fired. As uncomfortable as it is, being fired does not have to jeopardize your entire career. In fact, being fired is less damaging than in it used to be.

First, let’s determine whether you were fired or laid off, and it’s an important distinction. Here’s what I mean.

Not too long ago , a job seeker announced they had been fired. Then, they described being laid off along with three other people in the department. Either way, they were out of work, but the words they used when describing their job loss conjured up different scenarios.

A layoff can occur at any time. A company changes direction, shifting finances lead to a reduction in staff, or a merger leads to duplication of jobs. You’re really not in control in this situation. Most employers understand layoffs are part of the job landscape, and they’re not viewed as red flags.

Being fired indicates there was a reason, and is usually associated with some violation of policy or a performance issue. If you have been fired, take the time to process what happened and reconcile the situation before presenting it to potential employers. The emotional component to being fired can take some time to work through.

If you have been fired you need to be prepared to talk about it with confidence.  Be brief and honest. Honesty does not mean you go into details of who said what and how things could have been better. It means answering the question with integrity. If your previous employer agreed to let you resign, then by all means say you resigned.

One strategy is to be on the offensive, and briefly explain what happened. You might say, “I had a long history with the company and enjoyed contributing to their success, however it was time for us to make a change.”  Move on to talking about what you have learned and where you want to apply your interests.  Most employers will not ask for details, because on any given day  employers are reducing their workforces or hiring.

Whatever you do, do not speak badly about your previous employer because an interviewer visualizes how you would behave as their employee. This is why it is important to process what happened before you start your job search.

If you have had a long history with an employer and were recently fired, most employers will take that into consideration. Your references also will  serve as an important source of creditability during your transition.

Being fired is difficult, but it does not define who you are or your next career steps. You can recover and spring back to a new opportunity, if you take the time to process and plan.

How did you handle interviews if you’d been fired?

Kim Thompson