Fired? Here's How to Keep It From Hurting Your Career


Getting fired can destroy your self-confidence and devastate your personal finances, and that's just the start. Handled wrong, getting fired could have a long-lasting negative impact on your career, depending on the circumstances.

But don't become discouraged, or think that no one will hire you. Keep your chin up, and check out these five ways to minimize damage to your career after getting fired.

1. Get Creative to Minimize Employment Gaps

It's vital to minimize gaps in your employment history. Even if you can't find a job right away, you might be able to volunteer with a local organization or offer your skills to companies on a freelance basis until real employment comes along. You don't need a lot of freelance clients — just enough to keep your skills sharp and show employers that you're active in your field.

2. Choose References Carefully

If you were laid off or downsized and left the company on good terms, getting a good reference from your old job likely won't be an issue. But if you were fired because of a bad attitude or poor work performance, your immediate supervisor might not put in a good word. However, if you had a great working relationship with another manager or a team leader, ask this person to provide a letter of recommendation or reference. With so much competition in the job market, the last thing you need is a bad reference slowing down your efforts.

3. Avoid the F-Word

Some people use the word "fired" regardless of the circumstances of their departure. Technically, "getting fired" can apply to any type of involuntary termination. But if you weren't let go because of poor work performance or because of anything you did wrong, avoid the F-word and use more accurate terminology, such as "I was laid off," "My position was eliminated," or "The company downsized." These explanations sound better and might alleviate some of the stigma associated with being unemployed.

4. Be Honest

While it's understandable to downplay getting fired, it's important to be honest with the interviewer. Don't say you were laid off or downsized if you were unmistakably fired for misconduct or subpar work. The interviewer will mostly likely contact your previous employer, and if he learns that you lied or even slightly exaggerated the reasons for leaving the company, this can hurt your chances of getting the job. However, you don't necessarily have to go into extensive details. Keep your answer simple and short to avoid raising additional questions.

5. Exit Gracefully

The way you conduct yourself after getting fired can also affect how fast you're able to bounce back. If you make a scene by yelling, cursing, or acting unprofessionally in another manner, your employer will take note of this behavior. And when future employers call the company for a reference, your former employer may provide all the dirty details about your rude departure. If you exit gracefully and remain professional, this might persuade a former employer to provide a good reference, even though you weren't the right fit for the position.

Have you ever been fired? Do you agree with these tips? Do you have any tips of your own to offer? Let me know in the comments below.

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