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How to Explain Why You Were Fired

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“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?”

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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. 

Tell Us What You Think

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.


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kathy
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kathy

I thought I had heard and seen it all when my boss said “give me your badge and don’t come back till you hear from me.” He then mailed me a letter and said I was terminated. This blind sided me because I had been loyal to him and the company for over 35 years. I found another job and worked for two years. I had perfect evaluations and big raises. One day about a month ago, my boss said,”you can work today and tomorrow and that’s it.’ The next day he came in and told me I needed to… Read more »

Juergen
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Juergen

How do you deal with this if telling the truth is not possible without badmouthing your former employer? If they hired you for the wrong reason or fired you because they didn’t know what they are doing. Here I am already badmouthing to say that but it might be entirely plausible that they hired the wrong person because they didn’t understand their own needs good enough. This should not reflect bad on me, as I trusted the job spec was really what the job was about and took it. I have a hard time putting a positive spin or even… Read more »

petey sweety
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petey sweety

Bob COTT you are SO right! I am totally sick of companies that lay off everybody because the company is no doing well but by some miracle upper management is never let go.

Mitch
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Mitch

I quit a job on the spot because a specialist appeared to have breached a verbal contract to pay me the salary that I had requested. Said verbal contract was later put in writing and signed by him. Next, the specialist begin to pay me and diminished about of money then agree on and tried to have a lawyer draft a contract which would have negated the original contract as agreed. When I refused to allow the specialist to violate my rights he proceed to try to ” strong arm” and intimidate me into signing his contract. I collected my… Read more »

Carmel Sunley
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Carmel Sunley

If anyone needs a good employment lawyer, drop me an email. You have rights against unfair dismissal.

Prashant
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Prashant

I came across a wonderful cartoon which would ease the hurt from all those who were fired and it goes :

“New HR Manager :” Why did you leave your current job ”

Interviewee :Sir I did not quit but my Company relocated and did not tell me where ?

So guys take it in lighter spirit the parting

Prashant
Guest
Prashant

I came across a wonderful cartoon which would ease the hurt from all those who were fired and it goes :

“New HR Manager :” Why did you leave your current job ”

Interviewee :Sir I did not quit but my Company relocated and did not tell me where ?

So guys take it in lighter spirit the parting

Adam
Guest
Adam

I took over a Manager position in a large hardline electronics company in December of 2012 from another Manager who held the position prior to me, and than became my immediate supervisor. Rather than being promoted from within, I was hired from outside, when there were numerous employees within the location who had submitted resumes/applications for the same position. I was very pleased that I was selected for the position, of course, but I didn’t want to step on any toes. Needless to say there was a lot of animosity from the troops when I took over. But we worked… Read more »

David
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David

The position from an employer’s point of view, is that many employees fail to align themselves with the goals and directives of the company or management…sometimes this is due to poor leadership and instruction from them and sometimes it is due to lethargy and pack mentality from employees…Often Employers will have to fire staff to make an example to the “pack” that there are consequences to someones actions, whether it be poor performance, bad attitiude, office politics gone too far or unethical behaviour etc. Also I agree with the posters, as an Employer I will cross off fired employees or… Read more »

Rhonda
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Rhonda

I was”let go” and they blocked me from 3 other jobs. I contacted HR and they gave me the number of a 3rd party company they hired to verify my employment dates. They give no other information out.

no name
Guest
no name

I was given the choice of leaving voluntarily or being “let go” after almost a decade. I quit since I have never ever been fired from any job I have ever held and I wasn’t going to be fired now! I wasn’t given a reason and in fact always had good evaluations regarding my work ethics/performance. I know second in command, so to speak, disliked me and would scream at me and slam doors etc.if I dared ever question something he told me to do that I felt was unethical. I went to the boss regarding this mans unprofessional actions… Read more »

George
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George

I am tired of doing any same job for more than an year. Therefore, I changed my job year after year and even country after country. I understand, this hurts my career and I am deprived of promotions now. Is there any way that I can keep myself entertained on the same job for a longer period (say 3-4 years).

Marcel Desjardins
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Marcel Desjardins

After 3 layoffs in the past 25 years in my Retail career, I use the following reasons why I am no longer employed at those locations, I.E: End of contract , Did not suit new Company profile , Or Company downsizing and reducing payroll by offering packages to high bracket earners during their downsizing attempts.
Always made sure that my previous bosses were aware that they were going to be contacted for references and because I make a point of staying on great terms with all m,y ast employers, I know I can count on each to receive a fair appraisal.

Bob COTT
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Bob COTT

Some companies do a rotation of every 4-5 years of firing and hiring for no particular reason. I know it’s because management feels it’s the lower level employees and management to blame for poor performance of the company. There is a common denominator, the senior level management that stays as performance of the company stays the same or decreases. Upper Management – Fire Yourselves!

Tiffany
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Tiffany

Honesty and accountability are key ingredients to any kind of a relationship boss/employee. Mistakes and bad choices are inevitable in life. Rather we are honest to ourselves or others and or take responsibility for it is a reflection on your integrity and ethics. Learn from your mistakes is growth. No growth equals no change. Keep it real and if nothing else you will be respected.

The Fired Guy
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The Fired Guy

I disagree with that open and honest policy. I’ve tried it both ways a number of times, and although that “demonstrate your integrity and trustworthiness” advice you give sounds nice, the fact is, as soon as they hear you were fired — either from you or from the previous employer — you are crossed off the list. And that’s a fact! Unless of course, you have some very specialized skill.

Martha
Guest
Martha

I told them I went out Oma medical leave & when I wasn’t cleared for work after the time allotted, I was let go. They fired or “retired” my boss after that, so there was no one to give a recommendation. I was barely able to get the remaining staff to verify my employment. They hung up on one potential employer, & two others who called as potential employers, just to find out what was going on. It took 18 months to find a part time job after being let go.

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

I was let go due to third party complaint from customer regarding me and another employee. Customer said she went somewhere and over heard people talking about grooming so she went over and talked about my former business and she said Some said we were rude when they dropped their dogs off late and others said we were rude when their dogs were matted. No names were dropped but they described 2 woman and myself and another girl were dos robed. But nothing is proven and I never got a formal write up for any reason prior to this complaint.… Read more »

Louise
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Louise

When I read these articles I think that most of them are based on the opinion of the writer rather than facts. I work in the minerals industry and there are plenty of incompetent people who lie and cheat their way into some very senior jobs. My personal experience is that HR departments are often very lazy about fact-checking on applicants and most hiring is based on a resume and an interviewer’s opinion. Often the interviewer is someone in HR who has no experience in the area they are hiring for and does not even care if the person they… Read more »

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