Many of my clients have been previously fired or laid off. Over 50,000 people are let go from their jobs each day in the U.S, so there is a very good chance most professionals will experience this unfortunate event at least once in their careers.
This does not have to be a point of contention with potential employers during your job search though, and it does not have to detract from the accomplishments of your career or your strengths. Here are a few points to consider:
- Don’t mention being fired or laid off in your resume. There is absolutely no benefit that I can think of that would justify mentioning a lay off or firing on a resume. Period.
- Identify exactly why you were laid off or fired prior to your interview. Develop a SHORT, clear script of what happened and why. Be sure not to go on and on – that can open a can of worms and create more questions than answers.
People get fired for lots of reasons. Some are legitimate, based on performance issues, and some are completely unjustified. Regardless of the reason for being let go, there are solid methods for communicating the circumstances without hurting your candidacy with potential future employers.
In fact, many of my clients who were previously “let go” went on to land better positions with a sizable increase in total compensation. One of my clients secured a whopping $60,000 in additional salary after being fired as a result of getting caught in between some ugly corporate politics.
The following are three solid steps you can take to have successful interviews after being fired.
Step #1: Give yourself time to decompress.
This is the most important step you can take. If you have lost your job, you will most likely go through a grieving process similar to other significant life losses we all experience. If you interview prematurely, you may inadvertently “wear your grief” and/or find yourself unable to talk about your last employer with the kind of convincing detachment and discretion you will need to keep interviewers focused and excited about the value you offer them.
What if you need to begin interviewing right away? To speed up your “grieving process” while still honoring that time cycle, take a ceremonial weekend vacation, book a round of golf, take a spa day, or a family picnic by the lake. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s fun and relaxing, because this is your decompression time… just for yourself! Title your outing: “Your Ceremonial Moving On.” This is a physical process that evokes very real physical and mental benefits.
I have seen this “moving on ceremony” work wonders with my clients and I promise it will work for you too. In fact, I have used it myself. When I left my last employer, my husband threw me a congratulatory dinner and I bought myself a big decadent slice of carrot cake, stuck and candle in it, and we spent the evening talking about the future. It was wonderful!
Step #2: Identify your allies.
You want to contact any and all allies you have and had with your last company. These can include past colleagues, people that worked for you, key executives, clients and vendors – anyone that can attest to your strengths, your attributes and anything positive. If applicable, individuals who can diplomatically hint that there were problems beyond your control with your last company can be especially helpful. Remember, references can be provided by lots of other people besides your past “boss.”
You will want to gather as many WRITTEN references associated with this position as possible. If you are in my job search coaching program , you can listen to my audio coaching call on how to get and use jaw-dropping references. This call goes step by step through how to ask for these references, whom to ask and exactly how to use them once you have them (you’ll find that the payoff for you is nothing short of amazing!).
Focus on short, written quotes, and if you are on LinkedIn (you should be), you can ask for endorsements and then use them. Not only does this enhance your LinkedIn profile, but repurposes it as part of a reference page you put together for your “marketing collateral.”
Step #3: Prescript a BRIEF, but clear, statement.
Develop a brief statement about the reason you were fired and practice saying it. You can use it in your upcoming interviews. Keep it short, simple and clear. Here is an example:
“Unfortunately, I had no choice but to leave my last employer.
When I originally took the position, I was excited about ________.
At first blush, it seemed that their recent merger was going well. I had no idea there was such internal animosity amongst upper management. Perhaps in my excitement about the opportunity, I missed the subtle signs. Now I am focusing my attention on moving forward and I am quite excited to be here to talk with you about your corporation’s goals.”
No matter what you say, the secret is to be BRIEF, positive, bold and forward-thinking. Your interviewer(s) will focus on whatever you shine the spotlight on… so keep your attention on them, their challenges and how you can help.
Using these three steps, you can easily turn a situation you may be worrying about into a non-issue. Many who have been fired fear that they will have to make big sacrifices in order to land their next position, but most of the time this is simply not the case. Use the situation to reflect on whatever can be learned from it, use these powerful techniques to minimize any damage, and simply move on!
I have heard this question repeatedly in the last 60 days. Certainly there is a valid reason for my clients asking it – after all, there are mass layoffs going on every day and the news is gloomy at best. Hope for the future is what most are hanging their hat on and that message is loud and clear: every body…FREEZE!
Are there any benefits to holding your breath to see “what happens next?” I don’t know. I think people who are high achievers usually bulk at this mentality and I think it sends the general wrong message.
Here are several things I do know:
- Companies are still growing.
- Companies still have problems that YOU can solve.
- Millions of jobs are still being advertised every day…..you just don’t hear about them on the news.
- If your competition isn’t up to bat it’s a good time for you to be.
- Millions of people have landed wonderful job opportunities in “bad” job markets before.
- Learning the strategies to penetrate jobs that are not advertised lead to more interviews and bigger offers.
- A resume that sends the right marketing message will get you interviews – especially in times when companies really have urgent needs.
- History is heavy laden with scores of successful people rose out of adverse conditions and situations to achieve great things.
- Some of the best opportunities are developed in the worst of times.
I could go on, fortunately.
Now not all of us are optimists. I happen to be one, as you might already know from reading my posts. I like to concentrate on the positive.
There are those out there though who would call themselves “critical thinkers” wanting to poke holes in my approach. Or maybe you have been fired or laid off – and these points only serve to fuel your anger and frustration.
Well, the facts are that the above statements ARE facts, that looking through the lens of critical analysis is dangerously limiting to your job search success and that anger and frustration over a layoff or letting go is normal in ANY job market and needs to be overcome regardless.
We all must take responsibility for how we process and what we do with the information we allow into our hearts and minds.
So why not look for your next best position right now? Why not decide today that the media is not going to control the way you think and feel. Why not turn off the TV and simply stay focused on the markets that are growing and the plan and strategy that is going to work best for you right now? There really isn’t ever a perfectly “right time” to do anything. I picked the worst time to start up my business – financially, family wise, etc… but my window of opportunity was there so I took it. Risk and all and I never looked back.
A friend of mine who coaches C-Level executives through career transitions recently shared with me that most of his clients were holding off until the New Year to take action. That is, except for one. And that one client, he said, was experiencing amazing results and landing multiple interviews.
The choice is yours.