What should I do if I've been fired from my previous job?

If you are in the unfortunate position of being in the job search after being fired from your last job, there are several ways to handle the situation to minimize the damage.

Start by contacting the HR department of your previous employer to find out what information they will be sharing if they are contacted for a reference. Here’s why: In many cases, a former employer is likely to share only the dates of employment and/or positive feedback.

This is especially true in corporate environments since there are liability issues that can arise when they say negative things that could be interpreted as false that then harm a former employee’s future job prospects.

If you know that a previous employer is going to provide a negative reference, then build a reference list of professional contacts from previous work experiences that you know (because you verified) will be a more positive reflection of your work ethic and character.

Your resume and cover letter should not raise the reasons why you were asked to leave the position. If you are asked to fill out an application specifying why you left your previous job, it is okay to be vague and keep it to something along the lines of “Poor fit for my skills” or some other honest but broad classification.

You do, however, need to be prepared with a truthful but positively framed narrative for why you were fired if asked during the job interview. It is important that your story shows that you have reflected on the incident and learned something. You can contextualize your narrative in order to provide background details that frame the position as a bad fit for your particular set of skills, ambitions or personality styles. This allows you to turn to the current position, framing it as a stronger fit for you, thus ending on a high note. If you come off as denying any responsibility, it won’t look good.

Keep your story short, unemotional, factual, and frame it as a moment of personal growth and/or a blessing since it got you more oriented towards work that is ultimately more in line with your career goals such as the job you are currently applying for.

1 This page is compiled from materials found Work Bloom. Specific source material can be located at https://workbloom.com/job-search/faq-about-job-searching.

 
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