Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned. Perhaps your last job was going along smoothly (or so you thought)—and then—you were fired.
While you can certainly mourn the job loss and examine why it happened, the next step is clear—you have to find a new position.
Don’t worry, in this article, you’re going to learn how to find a job after being fired.
We’re going to cover:
Let’s get started…
Being fired can take an emotional toll on you and it is extremely tempting to take some time off and assess the situation.
However, have you ever heard the saying that it is easier to find a job when you have a job? The saying is true. Being ‘out of the game’ for any length of time means it’s more difficult to get back into the swing of things when the time comes for a new opportunity. So act fast.
When you are fired, it can drain you emotionally. Now is NOT the time to vent on your social media accounts or tell everyone how poorly the company treated you.
If you need to chat with someone, then do it in private. Find a trusted friend or colleague with whom you can share your story, tell them your feelings, and discuss the future possibilities. Don’t burn bridges, as it may be that very bridge you need to lead you to your next job.
Now, hopefully you have already been building your network and connections while you were employed. Building goodwill with people in your industry and within your circles of influence is an important key whether you have lost a job, been fired, or just want a new opportunity. When you are fired, it is even more important to reach out to these connections and let them know you are looking for a change.
Employees lose jobs all of the time—for a variety of reasons. Companies downsize, restructure, and regularly change personnel.
There is no ‘rule’ stating that you have to provide all of the details for the job loss.
Simply stating that the company downsized, your role was eliminated, or the company readjusted its workforce is enough explanation. And, the company is not likely to share the details either for fear of legal retribution.
Want more help with this? Here’s an article with a detailed step-by-step video on how to answer the question “Why did you leave your last job?”
Getting fired can take the wind out of your sails, both personally and professionally. Use this time to adjust your mindset and read books that shift your perspective.
While it can be challenging to keep this positivity, remember that you are not the only person that has been fired nor will you be the last. I
nstead, think of how this experience will shape your future and how you can share this as an example of resiliency. You can also use this time to build a new skill that you haven’t had time for while employed.
Often, if you were fired, you may not have been the only one let-go from the same workplace. If you are professional colleagues with your former co-workers and they want to get-together to share job-searching best practices or ways to find new opportunities, that is one thing.
If they choose to get-together and complain about being fired and how poorly-managed the company was, that is a completely different thing.
Connect with positive people that are looking to the future and want to better themselves. If you consistently surround yourself with negativity and reminders of this not-so-great incident, then you will be dragged down even further.
Get involved with local organizations that allow you to hone your skills, give back to the community, and build relationships with organizational members. Try to find something that uses the skills you built in your previous job.
This allows you to fill your new free time, make a difference in the area, and meet others that may be able to lead you to a new job opportunity.
Chances are that you were fired by one person. The good news is that there are probably a LOT of other people out there that know your skill-set, trust you as a colleague, and have recognized your superb work ethic.
Ask your connections for a testimonial on LinkedIn to enhance your social media presence.
One note about asking for a recommendation or testimonial: be specific. Don’t simply ask for someone to say nice things about you.
“Hi Bob! You may or may not have heard that I am seeking a new job opportunity. I’m building my presence on LinkedIn to secure my new role. I enjoyed working on ___ project with you and would appreciate it if you could write a few sentences as a LinkedIn recommendation about my ___ skills. I’m happy to do the same for you, just let me know. Thanks!”
When you are specific, it takes the guesswork out of the testimonial for the writer.
If you need more info on how to approach people for recommendations (and who to approach), read this article on how to get great LinkedIn recommendations.
Looking for a new position can be its own job, and if you want to find a position quickly you should look at it this way.
Keep track of everything so you know and can measure your progress. Develop a list of where you’ve been applying for jobs, create a spreadsheet to track responses, and maintain a file so you know who you asked for a testimonial. Include dates and a plan for follow-up in these documents.
If you aren’t sure where to begin applying, read this article on how a blog reader got 3 interviews and a job offer in only 1 hour using LinkedIn easy apply.
Getting a job after being fired can be challenging. However, by implementing the tips listed above and remaining positive, you will be well on-your-way to a new job opportunity.
Now that we’ve looked at 9 tips for finding a job after being fired, let’s look at how to interview after being fired.
Interviewing after being fired can be nerve-racking, but this section will help you walk in feeling confident and ready for anything they ask about your previous employment, why you were fired, etc.
I’m asked this question all the time… How to prepare for a job interview after getting fired?
How do you explain yourself and answer all the tough questions they’re going to ask you?
I’m going to walk you through this step-by-step.
First, you’re going to want to be upfront and have a quick, clear explanation for what happened in your last job.
Imagine they ask what happened in your last job or why you left. Here’s a good sample answer:
“I was fired from my last position. My performance wasn’t up to par with what the company expected in the highly-competitive sales group I joined, and they let me go two months ago. I sat down after this happened and thought about what had gone wrong, and I came to the conclusion that my organization skills were holding me back in my career. I was spending too much time each day tracking different tasks and obligations, rather than making more sales calls. I’ve developed a new system to make sure this never happens again based on what I learned. I can tell you about it if you’d like to know more.”
After the step above, you’ll want to quickly re-focus the conversation on your skills and how they match with this new company’s needs.
When someone is fired there’s a tendency to panic and apply to every job out there (and be willing to accept just about anything too).
Here’s the problem: Employer don’t want that. They want someone who is being careful and selective in their job search.
So after you’ve explained why you got fired and what you’ve done to make sure it NEVER happens again, pivot the conversion and show them why you want THEIR specific job.
Example of how to re-focus the conversation on their job after you explain being fired:
“I wanted to apply here because I’ve heard from a few colleagues that the opportunity to grow as a salesperson is tremendous because of the training and support from managers. I’m committed to growing my sales career, in fact sales is the only type of job I’m looking for. So that’s why I wanted to find out more about this specific opportunity.”
If you follow these two steps, it’s going to make a HUGE difference in how you perform in job interviews after being fired.
Getting fired is tough, I know as well as anyone because it’s happened to me.
But if I had taken this advice instead of trying to hide it and cover it up, I would have found a job much faster.
That’s why I suggest this method every time someone comes to me for help with a job interview after getting fired.
I explained how to answer interview questions about being fired above… at least in general terms. But it’s also a good idea to read and practice the specific questions you’re likely to hear.
So study these specific questions to give yourself an even better shot at getting a job after being fired:
Those are some of the questions I’d recommend starting with for interviewing after being fired. For more help, I have a list of the top 14 interview questions and answers here.
They might ask directly how your job search is going or what other companies you’re interviewing with. When you answer these questions, try to sound excited and optimistic.
This is important for any job seeker, but extra important as you look for another job after being fired.
You don’t need to lie and say you have job offers (or other interviews) when you don’t. But you can say something like this:
“My job search has been going really well so far. I’ve been getting some great responses from companies I’ve applied to, and I’m starting to narrow down the choices and go on interviews now. It’s still early in the process… but I’m really optimistic so far.”
It’s okay to tell a white-lie, and my favorite is what I used above… saying you’re still early in the process and just starting to get some interviews.
This will help you a lot in your first few interviews after being fired… and it’s probably true (you’re just starting to talk to companies, etc.)
And if they don’t ask directly, you can still drop hints.
For example, earlier in the article I shared that you can boost your odds of finding a job after being fired by being ready to name specific reasons why you want to work at their company.
Now after you tell them why you were interested in working in their company, you can drop a little hint that you’re in-demand by saying something like this:
“…In fact all the companies I’m speaking with right now fit a similar mold… mid to large sized organizations known for having great sales cultures.”
When you do this while answering interview questions, you’re showing them that you know a bit about them, they fit what you’re targeting, and that you’re getting attention from other companies and you’re not desperate.
That’s it. We’ve covered tips for how to get a job after being fired, plus how to interview after being fired – including specific questions and how to answer them.
If you have any questions about the information above, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, go get started, and good luck in your job hunt!
Finding a job after being fired can be scary, but you only need to do it once!
A guest author contributed to this post:
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Feather Communications (http://www.feather-communications.com). She holds an MBA and PhD in Organization and Management, and has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. You can download her top 5 resume tips to get more interviews for free at this page.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions and answers. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.