Why Getting Fired is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

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What did Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs have in common? They all got fired at one point. Losing your job is never easy. It can make for awkward moments at job interviews and ruin your chances of getting that perfect job.

“It’s understandable that
 a job seeker who has been fired from his last position will be uneasy about
 discussing his termination,” says Sudy Bharadwaj, co-founder and
 CEO of Jackalope Jobs. He tells eFinancialCareers that some job seekers "may even be tempted to mask
 the truth, insisting they left their position on their terms. But fibbing
 about reasons for leaving only perpetuates the stigma that professionals
 who have been fired are always poor hires.”

Here are some strategies to overcome that stigma.

Be Honest

“From your online social profiles to your resume to how you answer questions 
in an interview, it’s vital to be honest in the job search process,” says Bharadwaj. “When
 answering, ‘Why were you fired?’ always tell the truth. Did you and your
 boss not get along? Answer: ‘I’m usually very compatible with co-workers 
and authority [figures], but in this case, my boss and I just couldn’t
 mesh. I examined the problems and attempted to fix them, but was let go
 before I had an opportunity to implement my ideas.’”

But Avoid TMI

“It's all in the delivery,” says Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart, an outplacement solutions company. “If the candidate makes an issue of 
it, it will become an issue. Needlessly dwelling on or providing too much
 detail will only encourage further digging and question on [the part] of the
 interviewer.”

Adds Sam Levine, managing partner of the Buttonwood Group, a recruiting firm: “Almost everyone gets let go from a job sooner or later.
 Make sure it's understood to be a unique situation rather than a pattern if possible.
 Guide the conversation back to why your background, skills and interests make you an attractive fit for the position.”

Talk to Your Former Employer

Sathe says having “an honest conversation” with a former employer to get a sense for what might be said about you to a prospective employer is a critical step of the job search process. “In many cases, the
 candidate may be pleasantly surprised that the former manager doesn't want
 to harm their chances at a new job and might be willing to help them to an 
extent,” he says. “In this case, it's best to have an agreement and a plan of action. This talk might even clear the air. Many times this step can be crucial to
 the confidence of the job seeker as it can remove some of the paranoia of the unknown.”

Talk About Lessons Learned

Richard Deems, an executive at Worklife Design, a company whose services include career management, says his company teaches clients to admit shortcomings in prior employment. If the reason for the firing was poor performance, he says, “We coach people to say something like, ‘Yes, I was terminated for performance issues. Let me tell you what I've learned through the experience.' And yes, we would work with the person to truly identify what they had learned about themselves and how to be an effective employee—so their response is honest, direct and spoken without putting themselves down.”

Don’t Badmouth Your Previous Employer

"Never talk ill of the former
 management or use names of individuals,” says Sathe. “Try to remain diplomatic and use
phrases like ‘we're parting ways with respect’ or ‘with one door closing,
 another door opens.’ By showing your optimism and your excitement for a new 
challenge, a future employer will likely be intrigued by you instead of 
doubting you.”

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