"Be nice to people on your way up because you'll meet them on your way down."
(Wilson Mizner, 1876-1933, U.S. dramatist)
Dealing With Being Fired
Being Fired and Its Impact on You
Learn not to feel as if being fired is such a horrible or embarrassing situation.
You will go through a grieving process and will naturally feel some anger, shame, and hurt. This is normal. But try not to walk around with your head hanging down, fearful that someone will find you sitting in the park instead of being on the job.
Many people, just like you, are fired for reasons other than their job performance or ability to function in a specific environment. Often, being fired is a blessing, as it actually enables you to get out of a rut and find a job more to your liking and better suited to your abilities. While this may sound a bit like looking through rose-colored glasses, your job search success will depend upon you finding the positive in that experience and maintaining your equilibrium. Consider some of the reasons why people are fired:
Personality mismatch - You remained because of the money, but actually you were not happy with the surroundings. The attitudes of the people around you were not compatible with yours. The work was repetitious and became boring, the staff were not friendly and the entire environment was not comfortable. Being fired is probably a blessing, as it frees you to search for employment that is a better match for your experience and personality.
Skills mismatch - When you applied for the job, you were not fully aware of the full responsibilities of the job or the potential hardships it contained. This might be because the person who hired you did not accurately judge whether your skills and experience would match the job description or was lax in making things clear enough. Another possibility is where the job duties were switched on you after you were hired. If so, while it did not work out, at least you tried. Think positive as you will have better luck elsewhere.
Refusing to go along - Standing up for your beliefs, refusing to be dishonest or to overlook faulty business practices and being fired for it is not a slur on you; you should be proud for standing up for what is right.
Downsizing - Thousands of people are downsized every day. It's not their fault. It's an impersonal technique by which companies raise the value of their stock. The company itself may be moving to different countries to lower expenses. In this economic state, it could happen more often. The bosses don't take great pleasure to force a closure of a company with so much history behind it. There is no shame in being laid off; in fact, it happens to almost everyone at one time or another.
Unreasonable - If you became pregnant or needed to take time off to tend to a sick child, and if you put in a request for a short leave of absence and were fired, it had nothing to do with you. Do not blame yourself. You might even be able to sue the company in this case for job discrimination.
What Should You Put on a Resume?
The only thing worse than having to look for a new job in a tight market is having to look immediately after being fired. Avoid the temptation to sugar-coat your employment history -- employers prefer honesty and a good attitude. Even though you lost your last job, add it to your resume. After all, you did earn the experience.
It is not necessary to state that you were fired on your resume. Leave those kind of specifics to a conversation that you will have with your prospective employer - either on the phone or in person.
Even if you've been fired from a job, you still held a specific position with defined responsibilities, so it's completely fair and honest to list the company and the basics of the job on your resume. In fact, some companies may view the omission of a job as a sign of dishonesty that may result in your disqualification from hiring. Remember the cardinal rule of resumes -- be completely honest.
That said, not every job needs to appear on a resume. Short-term positions or interim positions without significant responsibility may safely be omitted, as well as jobs that are more than 10 years past and which are not relevant to your current industry.
What Should You Say in Your Job Interviews?
If you are asked about the job you were fired from, be open and honest about the situation. You are not obligated to disclosed unless asked, but if you think there could be a risk to your future employment because of your termination, it's prudent to address the matter clearly and honestly. Some employers run background checks and may learn, through criminal history or social networking, the circumstances of your dismissal, so owning up any negative history may work to your favor.
Explaining to a prospective employer that you were fired is hard, but necessary. If you are ashamed of losing your job or believe that having been fired reflects badly on you, such low self-esteem will be evident in your job interviews.
It is much better for you to hold your head up high and explain the circumstances exactly, without emotion. Be factual and don't blame others or be too hard on yourself. Present the attitude: “I was fired for X reasons but I have gathered myself together and I am moving on now, a better person and a much better employee.” Employers will make an issue out of it if you do not demonstrate the truth, clear facts and a responsible future-projected attitude. Provided you explain it correctly, an employer is more likely to see a person with the right attitude and get-up-and-go needed in the new company, along with someone who has had experience of hardship and moved through it successfully.
The best explanation will openly acknowledge that the situation wasn’t optimal and look for a way to tell the story with a positive ending. Above all, you do not want to get bogged down in a long-winded explanation of how you weren’t wrong in the first place or how other folks had it in for you. Even if you were mostly in the right, most hiring managers don’t want to hear the whole story—and will likely tend to sympathize with your former manager.
Don't forget to tell prospective employers what you did right too!
Take a Thorough Inventory of Your Accomplishments at Your Previous Job
After you are fired, it's important to examine what you need to change about yourself, as described above, but it's even more important to take stock of your strengths and what you did right.
A useful project for you will be to sit down and write an essay about of your accomplishments at your previous job. Be specific and write many pages. This is not for your resume - this is for your memory and self-esteem. Too often when people are fired, they downplay or minimize what all they did right. Write it out! Not only will it buoy you and make you feel better, but it will also train you to highlight these accomplishments when you go to interviews. During down times, it's also helpful to pull these essays out of a drawer and review them. You'd be surprised how much confidence and energy it will bring to your days during your long job search weeks.
Should You List Your Last Job as a Reference?
If a potential employer requests references, you are not obligated to give your prior employer as a reference unless the recruiter specifically requests it. In that case, disclose that you were terminated. Some terminations are unremarkable -- for example, layoffs because of budget issues. Be prepared, however, to explain terminations for cause, particularly if your discharge was based on the violation of a law or policy.
Keep a Positive Attitude
A good attitude is the best defense against a negative employment history. Avoid speaking poorly of prior employers or pushing off responsibility for your actions. Instead, acknowledge any mistakes you've made and explain to the recruiter what you've learned from them.
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