How to Explain Why You Were Fired

“You’re fired” is the last phrase anyone wants to hear from their boss. Losing your job can be a huge blow to your ego, your bank account, and potentially your career. However, finding another job after being fired isn’t impossible. In fact, it may end up being a blessing in disguise, enabling you to find a company that’s more in sync with your goals.

walk the line 

(Photo Credit: Thomas Leth-Olson/Flickr)

According to job coaching site Popforms, the first thing to think about is what you will say about why you were fired. It’s inevitable that, when you start job searching, HR will ask you questions such as, “Why are you looking for something new?”

1. Tell the truth.

As tempting as it is to lie, don’t give in. Being truthful in a job interview will demonstrate your integrity and trustworthiness — two traits that are highly desirable in new employee. The truth is, no one has a squeaky clean job history; being honest about yours will only benefit you in your job hunt.

Realize, too, that lying and putting a positive construction on the truth are not the same thing. For example, if you’re fired for cause, you can concentrate on showing what you’ve learned from your experience; if you’re laid off, you can tell the hiring manager what you’ve realized about how to look for a place that’s a better fit.

2. Trust your references.

Are you planning to use your boss as a reference for your new job? If so, then you need to know what he or she plans to say about you, when HR calls. If the relationship is too strained, make a point of contacting HR to check what they’ll say when your employment is verified. Sometimes they’ll say more than they should, so it’s important to know how much information about how you were fired — and why — will be shared.

3. Don’t badmouth anyone.

Finally, wherever you are in the interview process, don’t ever say anything bad about your previous employer. Jenny Foss at The Daily Muse explains that if you do, “You’ll just look like sour grapes, and no one wants to work with sour grapes.”

Your potential employer may also be concerned about what you’ll say about your co-workers and company, either while working with them or when you move on someday. There’s no reason for anyone to think that you’ll restrain yourself from speaking ill of future employers if you’ve done so about previous companies. It doesn’t portray you as a positive, trustworthy person, and definitely won’t help you get hired.

If you’ve been fired, stay positive and have a succinct, honest, and clear story about what happened. It may take a little more time, but soon you’ll find yourself with another job — and hopefully a much better one. 

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If you’ve been fired from a job, what did you tell potential employers? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.