As a recruitment consultant I meet lots of candidates who are in the job market because they have been fired. In fact, one of the things that surprised most when I first joined the industry is how many people are actually being fired at anyone time! Trust me – it is a very common event.
What surprised me even further is how many of those candidates were upbeat, positive and with no psychological scars from being fired. I have an admiration for those candidates because I know in a similar situation, I would really struggle to find that mindset. I do not think I am alone in that. For every candidate skipping through a meadow of new opportunities that need exploring, there is a candidate who is literally stuck in hell with no idea of how to move things forward. Well – this blog is for anyone who has been fired and is still sat on the canvas wondering what hit them.
You join an awesome cast of heroes and role models; Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney…who have all been fired and learned to bounce back bigger and better.
Let’s start with some basics…being fired is a horrible, gut-churning roller-coaster that will leave you reeling and feeling shaken. Maybe you never saw it coming, maybe you suspected….regardless being hit by a train (whether you see it or not) is going to hurt.
You are bound to feel a wave of negative emotions such as hate, anger, feelings of rejection, loss, disappointment and frustration. You just lost a daily routine, your identity and your self-esteem. So – give yourself a moment, just a little time to work through these emotions and recalibrate your thinking. I’m not talking about spending a month sitting on the sofa watching boxsets and sulking. I mean give yourself a moment to breath, think through the situation and analyse why you feel the way you are.
Under no circumstances take to social media to tell everyone how you feel or what you think of your former employer. Trust me, nothing productive will come from it!
Somehow, you need to keep things in perspective. It was just a job and this is not a bereavement (albeit may feel like it). Of course, the more senior your role the harder that can be to quantify.
You are probably going to start that process alone and when you are ready find a trusted confidant to talk through how you are feeling. Do not be in denial about your feelings, don’t try telling everyone your fine when inside you are really weeping!
Ask yourself some questions
- Did you like that job or that company?
- What about your line manager?
- How did it feel each morning when your alarm went off?
- Could you have done something different?
- Were your treated fairly?
Chances are you hated your job, loathed your manager, and found the whole experience stressful. You wanted your situation to be different. Well, now you are presented with the opportunity to make it happen. Are you really going to let the negative implication of a poor career move dictate your future happiness?
As a recruiter, I am actually kind of interested in candidates that have been fired. You see, most of us can paddle along and handle a job we hate or doesn’t fit us for a bit time. But to be fired suggests you were possibly so uninterested in the role, so disengaged that your mind was somewhere else wanting to do something different….fascinating. What is it you actually want to be doing? Why were you fighting so hard to pull in the opposite direction that you have been labelled ‘deviant’ to your former colleagues?
By taking some timeout, having a chance to process some of your negative feelings and actually questioning what it is about your old job you miss your probably starting to recognise the world has not ended and you can actually think about looking forwards.
The most important thing now is a positive mindset. A recruitment agency or a Human Resource Manager will easily spot a candidate that is angry/bitter/wounded…and guess what – these kinds of candidates tend not to get the job!
Any negative thoughts you experience such as “I’ll never get as good a job again” or “no one would want me now” – put out of you mind straight away. These need to be replaced with positive statements such as “I’ll find a better job” or “I know I have lots to offer an employer”.
You need to harness this positivity and energy and focus on your job search. Rather than being depressed at the thoughts of interviewing and having to deal with recruitment agencies and Human resource managers, get excited. Who knows what opportunities are going to come up for you, but if you are in the wrong mindset you may never ever actually see them slapping you in the face.
The Final Hurdle
So, after a period of self-reflection and working through your emotions you are feeling positive and have started your job search. There is one final issue that candidates can struggle with. How do you explain in interview that you were fired from your last job?
Well, firstly do not write on your CV or your resume that you were fired. All you need detail here is the start and end dates of employment. Never right anything on your CV that might be a negative.
Secondly, when you are at interview and you are asked the question why did you leave your last role don’t use the words “fired” or “sacked”. Luckily, the English language gives you a rich tapestry of words to choose from! If asked why you left your last role, do not lie but certainly do not be tough on yourself. Use language such as “the job ended”, “brought to a close” or “I was let go”, and you are going to need a well-rehearsed answer.
Having previously been fired is not a dealbreaker at interview…how you handle it is.
Therefore, honesty really is the best policy, don’t slate your former boss/company, do not pass the blame, stick to the point, don’t sound bitter and explain any learnings and any positives.
I am not suggesting this is easy – it is not. Interviews are a performance. You are just going to learn how to perform with a little more weight on your shoulders.
Being fired is horrible. You feel as if you have been emotionally punched to the ground. You can feel a whole raft of negative emotions such as shame and humiliation. But, at the very crux, being fired is actually about change. The quicker you can rationalise the situation and move-on the better.
Maybe, you have read the blog and still have doubts in your mind about whether you can move forward. Well, I am going to leave you with a quote from one of my favourite authors – Paul Arden. He has written several books that challenge you to think differently to what you might on life and business situations.
“…Getting fired can be a positive career move. Being fired often means you are at odds with your company. It means the job isn’t right for you. I have been fired five times and each time my career took a step forward. Being fired used to be a negative on your CV or resume. Now some head hunters find it an asset because it can show initiative…” Paul Arden.
About the Author
Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (A recruitment agency based in Aldershot that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and beyond). Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade. He has a degree and a masters in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management. If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.