Being fired or laid-off is a very unfortunate way to begin a job search. However, job seekers can still be successful. The keys are honesty, an otherwise strong work record and a tasteful amount of camouflage (we’re not kidding ourselves, here).
If you’ve been fired, Alison Green of Ask a Manager suggests doing a few things immediately that will help your future job search. First, avoid doing anything rash or bitter that might jeopardize your relationships with former coworkers. Although the job has ended, professional contacts from the position may still be very useful as a job seeker. Second, negotiate with your employer to negotiate the way your employment will be described to employers who might call for a reference. Ask for your employment to be described in neutral terms, or for the reference to only confirm dates of employment. Doing early damage control should help disguise your termination from future employers, and make your job search easier.
When preparing resumes and cover letters after being fired or laid-off, you should describe previous employment in a neutral way. When indicating why you left your last position, simply write “job ended,” or something similar. Don’t mention being fired or laid-off in your cover letter, which should only focus on the positive aspects of your job seeker profile. In fact, one source suggests avoiding the word “fired” throughout the job search, if at all possible. However, with all of this camouflaging, it is important not to lie. Omit information where possible, and discuss tactfully in an interview.
During a job interview, keep the discussion of your termination as brief as possible. Decide before the interview what you will say to put the situation in the best light. If you were a victim of downsizing, say so, and politely move on. Avoid blaming others for your misfortune, and if your interviewer prods for more information, explain what you learned from the situation. For more information, check out these sample responses to the question “Why were you fired?”
Also, be sure to list good references who can vouch for your work. Although not all employers will take the time to contact these references, they can be a great way to undo the damage of being fired or laid-off for job seekers. Finally, don’t be discouraged. Plenty of good—even famous—people have been fired and have done just fine afterwards. Best of luck in your job search!
Job seekers: have you ever had to look for a job after being fired or laid-off? Send me a tweet, @ithinkther4iamb, or leave a comment below and tell us about it!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Nilofer Merchant Blog