Recommended Reading: [A Gamer’s Primer to Practically Dealing with Job Loss]
Yes, I have been fired before. It is definitely different from being laid off. And yes, I do have advice for those who were fired, rather than laid off. Losing my job due to a layoff is much more generalized than being fired; it wasn’t something that I did to deserve losing my job and I was not the only person who was let go. Being fired means that my job loss is because of something specific to me, that there was some thing(s) I either did or didn’t do that warranted my dismissal. While the direct effects of being fired are the same as being laid off (dealing with job loss, trying to find a new job), I suggest treating being fired differently when interviewing with potential employers.
Imagine you’re a hiring manager trying to hire somebody to do a job for you. You’re trying to hire somebody who can work with your team and do the job. If a job candidate was fired by a former employer, it means that this candidate had some sort of problem with their employer that could not be resolved. That’s a yellow flag - proceed with caution. It isn’t necessarily a deal breaker but it isn’t positive either - especially when you have many other candidates to look through. As a hiring manager, you would want some reassurances that the problems the candidate had with the former employer won’t be repeated at your company. In order to be reassured, you’re going to want to know why the candidate was fired and why that problem (and any similar ones) won’t also happen to your company if you hire the candidate.
With this in mind, it is wise to prepare for these things as a job-seeker. At any job interview, the chances are very good that you’ll be asked about why you parted ways with former employers. You should always prepare answers for such questions, but especially for firings. Hopefully the cause wasn’t something work-related, but even if it was you would need to show how you have addressed the problem and moved past it. If you can, secure some positive references from the job you were fired from. This will help reassure a potential employer that your work is good. Ask friends to do mock interviews with you so you can practice your responses and see how they feel about your explanation, especially from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know you. You want to provide an honest answer, but you also want to spin it as something that you have taken steps to improve.
Having been fired is not an ideal situation for a job seeker because it indicates there was a problem specific to you as a worker that both warranted dismissal and could not be worked out. You can think of it as temporary damage that will become permanent if you don’t address it properly when asked (and it will be asked). If you’re prepared for it, you can mitigate the damage. If you’re not, you’re self-sabotaging before you even start the interview. I implore you, if you are looking for work and were fired from a past job (especially a recent job), prepare answers for questions about the firing. It might not be a pleasant task to undertake, but it is far less pleasant to lose a job offer because you didn’t.
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