If you’ve lost your job, bouncing back isn’t always an easy task. After a firing, it’s important to think and act strategically to avoid the pitfalls of being seen as someone who has terminated, and to counteract negative perceptions about your candidacy for future jobs. These tips can help you to formulate a plan that will move you forward with your career.
Tips for Getting a Job After You Have Been Fired
1. Feel the pain. The first step is to recognize that you have experienced a loss and to address the associated feelings. It’s okay to feel upset. Getting fired from a job is not unlike other losses in life like divorce and the death of a loved one, especially if you’ve been with the same company for many years. You’ll likely feel emotions like shock and anger and you may go through a period of grieving. But, you shouldn’t broadcast any of these feelings to prospective employers.
2. Share your feelings. Rather than venting at an interview, share your feelings with friends, family or a counselor. Talking about what’s going on can help you to move more quickly through the normal period of grieving over list job.
3. Figure out what happened. Although it’s important to move on, it’s also necessary to learn from the experience. Reflect upon the reasons for your firing and identify any personal weaknesses or deficits in knowledge and skills that contributed to your termination.
4. Is this the right type of job for you? Assess whether your traditional job and career focus is the right fit for you. Create a profile of the ideal skills, knowledge and other assets possessed by professionals in your field. How well do you measure up?
5. Check out other options. If you conclude that you’re in the wrong field, begin to explore other options. Consult a career counselor if you need assistance, read about careers, or reach out to alumni and other contacts in fields of potential interest about informational interviews. Get advice about what it takes to be successful and what you will need to do to transition into a new role.
6. Upgrade your skills. Consider pursuing opportunities that will introduce you to the new field. Take classes or complete workshops to acquire knowledge and skills. Explore volunteer work, internships or freelance work to get experience and figure out which career best suits you. These are also good things to emphasize in networks or interviews.
7. Separate your skills from your last job. Prepare a clear statement differentiating your new career from your previous role. For example, suppose that you failed as a salesperson because you had difficulty prospecting for new clients. If you are transitioning to a role in public relations, then you might say “I was let go from my past job because I didn’t close enough new accounts. I excelled at organizing sales conferences and writing sales communications. Upon reflection, I have decided that public relations would be a better fit since it would tap my strong writing and event planning skills.”
8. Be prepared to explain why you were fired. If you decide to remain in your current field, then you should thoughtfully prepare an explanation for your firing. You will need to convince employers that things will be different if they hire you in a similar capacity. Here’s how to answer interview questions about why you were fired.
9. Share your accomplishments. If you have taken steps to address any weaknesses that contributed to your firing, then you can share what you have done. For example, may have completed workshops or taken a public speaking course to improve your presentation skills. If possible, provide some backup for your explanation, whether it’s portfolio pieces, testimonials from teachers, mentors or supervisors, or examples of your work.
10. When it wasn’t your fault. In some cases, your termination might be rooted in something beyond your control. Perhaps, you worked for a company with a severely flawed product that you were unwilling or unable to promote, or a boss whose management approach wasn’t a good fit for your work style. You should carefully prepare and rehearse a statement that objectively characterizes the situation without being negative about your former employer or supervisor. Include reference to how you have exceeded in previous roles where the condition didn’t exist.
Example: “I have always been a closer as you can see from my record with IBM and Altera. I was unable to achieve that level of success at my recent employer. I had difficulty convincing clients to adopt solutions that I knew were not going to work well for them. I have done my due diligence about your company and believe that you provide cutting-edge products that I would be proud to promote.”
11. Don’t badmouth your boss. Remember, you should be especially careful about criticizing former supervisors since you might be viewed as an employee with an attitude problem. Frame any characterizations in a matter of fact manner, without any vitriol.
Example: “I excelled in previous situations where managers held me accountable but gave me a wide berth in terms of how I reached my goals. My recent manager was more comfortable prescribing the specific approach to my cases, and we often disagreed about how to proceed. My research indicates that your management approach is consistent with past situations where I have flourished.”
11. Get some references. Have recommendations on hand to counter the perceptions of a supervisor who dismissed you, or to prove that you were successful in other situations. Think comprehensively about individuals who can vouch for your skills and character including co-workers, other manager, customers, suppliers and other business partners. Here’s how to get professional references for employment.
12. Make a portfolio. Prepare and present a portfolio of work samples that demonstrates high-quality work. Provide a link to your portfolio and recommendations on your resume to increase the likelihood that recruiters will view this information.
13. Up your networking efforts. Rely on networking as your primary job search strategy. Candidates who are unemployed have a better chance of passing initial screens if they have internal advocates at target organizations testifying on their behalf.