So You Were Terminated. Now What? Advice for Your Next Job Search

Laid off, downsized, canned, sacked, axed, handed the pink slip, given the ole heave ho…whichever euphemism you choose, you—like most of the adult population—were terminated from your job. Now you’re on the job hunt and are having trouble explaining your reason for leaving. Rejection hurts, but it’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of your career.

As a matter of fact, most professionals, even the most successful business tycoons like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey, were fired from at least one of their jobs. Why, we would wager to bet the boss who dismissed you was terminated at some point in his or her career too. 

Getting dismissed from your job happens for a number of reasons. There are terminations that fall into the layoff category and some that fall into the dismissal, or the ‘got fired’ category. Either way, it can be a hard thing to explain the reason for leaving on your resume or during an interview for your next job.

What Exactly is a Layoff?

Layoffs happen to most businesses due to economic reasons and are rarely an employee’s fault. They happen with or without warning and are most commonly caused by: 

  • Restructuring of the organization 
  • A slowdown in revenue
  • Complete liquidation of a business 

Back in the turn of the century, getting laid off meant a usually temporary termination of your job. Once the company rebounded the employee would get their position back. But these days they’re much more permanent. 

If you’ve been laid off from your last position, you may be entitled to some benefits that will make your time of unemployment a bit easier.  These entitlements are available because you lost your job due to no fault of your own. However, because there are benefits available to you now, they aren’t there for the long-term. So, you need to start your job search as soon as you’re able to update your resume and have thought about your next career move.

Ok, You Were Fired

This one is what most employees fear the most, getting fired. A firing is different from a layoff in that it can be attributed to:

  • Poor work performance 
  • Insubordination
  • Misconduct
  • Office gossip
  • Absenteeism
  • Poor company culture fit
  • Violation of company policies

According to a survey by Career Builder, the number one reason (at 41%) why employers have fired an employee is for being late to work. 

There are cases of wrongful termination, but most of the above reasons are due to some type of behavior by the employee. For whichever reason you may have been fired for, sometimes getting terminated can be a blessing in disguise. Absenteeism, insubordination, and poor work performance are also signs of decreased job satisfaction.

Remember, getting fired happens to almost everyone, even the most successful. It doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified to continue to work in your field, or that your career is over. According to the authors of The CEO Next Door, 91% of those surveyed ended up finding an equal, or better, opportunity after being fired. Take this experience and turn it into a learning lesson and think about what would be a better career move for you down the road, and how you could approach your work and your workplace differently in your next position. 

When You’ve Been Let Go, Dust Off Your Resume

So, if you’re like the majority of the population and have been fired or laid off recently, keep your chin up and don’t take it too personally. Take the time (if you’re able to financially) to update your resume and plan for your next career move. 

While you’re searching for your next opportunity, gather a list of your ideal positions and thoroughly read the job requirements. On your resume, be sure to highlight what additional skills you earned from your last position that would fit well with your ideal new position. Did you use a new tool or piece of equipment? Put it on your resume. Were you in charge of x, y, or z? Put it on your resume.

Also, since resumes are supposed to be as succinct as possible, consider gathering a record of your past work for hiring managers to review in addition to your resume. It could be in the form of a personal blog, website, or digital portfolio. You know the old saying, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. 

Gather Up Your References 

The most effective form of marketing, and applying for jobs requires making yourself marketable, is through word of mouth. Hopefully, when you left your last job you didn’t burn any bridges and can rely on a colleague to vouch for your work ethic. 

Having a strong reference may offset the need for potential employers to dig too deeply into the situations surrounding your last position. Be sure to reach out to trusted colleagues through phone or LinkedIn to ask for a recommendation before listing them on your next job application. And remember to pay it forward, someday they may need you as a reference. Ensuring that you will return the favor for them may sweeten the deal.

How to Explain Your Reason for Leaving

First of all, congratulate yourself on landing an interview for your next job post-termination. It’s very common your next employer will want to know about your reason for leaving your previous positions. Before you set up an interview, prepare yourself with a strategy for how to explain your termination.

As with your resume, it’s important to highlight the positives of your previous experiences and to always stay honest. Avoid the temptation to badmouth your previous employer, that could be a turnoff and a red flag to the hiring manager. Also, there’s a chance your previous employer may be contacted, and if you’re caught being dishonest, it could cost you in the long-run.

Instead, prepare a list of your accomplishments and how you added to your previous department. If they ask why you left your previous position, don’t give too many details and try to move on to more positive discussions about what you learned and achieved during your last position. You could also reframe your departure by identifying what skills or disciplines you gained that you are hoping will add value to this new business.

Let Beeya Help With This Next One

As we’ve said, getting let go or terminated from your job happens to just about everyone. It can be hard to deal with at the time but understand that there are better opportunities out there for you. If you have your resume updated, be sure to let our AI-driven algorithm help identify the best job listings for you. In no time, you’ll have employers contacting you about your next career move. Remember to stay positive and good things are bound to happen.

Recent Top Articles