There’s no good way to sugarcoat being fired, so the best course of action is to tell a prospective employer as honestly and candidly as possible your view of what happened. The worst thing any job seeker can do is to be less than honest about the reason for leaving an employer and then have them check your references and discover you lied.
Being objective and not placing blame are key. Not every job is perfect for every employee, and no one can get along with everybody all the time. Sometimes personalities clash. Sometimes the realities of the job don’t match the expectations. It is essential for the person who was fired to realize that the circumstances that led to it, more often than not, involved at least two points of view. That’s where being objective comes into play. Every person who has been fired should take the time to calmly evaluate what actually happened and what his role in it truly was. In other words, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to tell a prospective employer, “It was all their fault. I was a perfect employee every day, and I was an outstanding performer in every aspect of my job. They were totally wrong to fire me!” Even if that were true, who would believe it?
What Did You Learn?
To minimize the potential damage of being fired, be prepared to explain how you’ve gained wisdom about yourself and your abilities from the experience. Start thinking about what you could have done differently that might have led to another result and what you’ll do differently in the future. If, for instance, it was a matter of personality clash, be prepared to talk about it in first person plural. “We just couldn’t work together.” That’s how you let a prospective employer know you have critically evaluated both sides of the situation. Then, use that as a springboard to highlight the positives that came from the experience. It’s critical to take some blame. You might say, “I didn’t have a clear understanding of their expectations” as opposed to “they didn’t tell me what their expectations were.”
Nearly everyone can improve in some area, and that’s what you want to stress to a prospective employer. Getting fired isn’t the sin — not learning anything from it is. Be honest about what happened and explain what you learned from the experience, and you’ll find that most prospective employers will be favorably impressed with you.
Watch the short orientation video at jobs4jersey.com, then post your resume at the jobs4jersey website. Jobs4Jersey has almost 10,000 New Jersey employers registered to list jobs and search our resumes for new employees and roughly 100,000 job listings in New Jersey alone. No matter what kind of job you’re seeking, most employers will want to see your resume before they’ll even talk to you. That’s why Jobs4Jersey starts by helping you build a complete, detailed resume that includes the skills and experience employers are looking for. If you’ve already written your resume, you can simply upload or paste it into Jobs4Jersey.
Maybe you don’t have the time (or money) to take courses that might prove useful to you –try exploring these free online courses.
The experts have a few hints on finding employment with the federal government. At the government’s job website, you can narrow your search by location and job title, upload your resume to an online account, and then apply for desired positions.
Have the requested skill set: Most people just go on the Internet and apply for available jobs–and most people don’t get jobs. “At the very least you need to write a new resume for each position applied for, specifically targeted to both the position and the government. Go through each listed requirement and make sure that it is addressed in your resume or cover letter. One trick with getting a government job is knowing what jobs are coming. Each year or two (biennium), governments create their budgets. In these budgets, they list in excruciating detail everything that has been given money in the budget, and how much. Included in this is a list of capital projects. These projects often require specialized skills, and often mark the future direction of the government. Generally new capital projects for a government don’t have any existing personnel that have expertise in that area, so with a little forethought, you can position yourself as the expert and get a related position before they actually need to fill the position you’ve been researching.”
- Five tips for getting a government job
- Myths About federal government jobs
- Tutorial for the government jobs website
Besides Insource, of course
- CareerHub: Posts from top experts in career counseling, resume writing, and recruiting
- LinkedIn: Lots of tips and tricks on how to effectively use LinkedIn
- Monster Working: Career advice from bloggers at monster.com
- Lindsey Pollak: Many aspects of job searching covered
- SimplyHired: Job search advice and company news
- Blog Indeed: Blog of one of the best job search sites
- Women For Hire: Not just for women–career advice, job fairs, and more
“You have a job interview. You’ve learned everything about the company, you’re prepared for any questions they ask, and you even arrived a few minutes early. You couldn’t be more ready. But are you dressed suitably? ‘In an interview situation, you’re marketing yourself as a product, and so you want and need to have the best image possible,’ says Amy Glass, a trainer and coach at Brody Communications Ltd. of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and an expert on business etiquette, professional presence and interpersonal communication. So as you prepare for your interview, keep these wardrobe tips in mind.”
It’s OK to Ask What to Wear
In traditional industries like finance or accounting, consider a suit, shirt and tie if you’re a man, or a conservative suit if you’re a woman, with — perhaps — personality shown through your blouse or jewelry. In other industries such as advertising, public relations, graphic design and information technology, what to wear might be less clear. If that’s the case, ask about the company’s general dress policies when you’re first contacted about an interview. If in doubt, err on the conservative side.
Suggestions for Professional Interview Attire
- Suit (solid color – navy or dark grey)
- Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)
- Dark socks, conservative leather shoes
- Little or no jewelry
- Neat, professional hairstyle
- Limit the aftershave
- Neatly trimmed nails
- Portfolio or briefcase
- Suit (navy, black or dark grey)
- The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
- Coordinated blouse
- Conservative shoes
- Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets)
- Professional hairstyle
- Neutral pantyhose
- Light make-up and perfume
- Neatly manicured clean nails
- Portfolio or briefcase
Downsizing, layoffs, outsourcing–discouraging buzzwords to the jobseeker. Headhunter David Perry says you’re wasting your time if you’re looking for job postings online. Here is some of his advice:
- “When companies say, ‘We have a hiring freeze,’ that doesn’t mean they’re not hiring. It just means they’re not adding headcount. Every year there’s 20-25% turn over. So in a 1,000-person company, 200 or 250 people are going to turn over, either through attrition, or someone moves. Those companies are still hiring but they don’t want to tell you.”
- “What you have to do in a recession is map your skills to employers to where you know they have a problem you can solve. My advice to job hunters is to pick 10 to 20 companies, that you’re interested in, and that you think you can add value to. That requires researching companies, and so that list may take you two weeks. If you’re trying to crack the hidden job market and you know the job position you want reports to vice president, find that vice president on LinkedIn and look at his profile to see who else he’s connected to and go ask them, ‘What’s this guy like to work for?’ Do the research before you even pick up the phone.”
- “Attract attention! Go to ZoomInfo and LinkedIn and create a profile. All corporate recruiters and probably 20% of the headhunters in America have ZoomInfo accounts. When we start a search, companies aren’t going to advertise. The headhunter goes to ZoomInfo, types in requirements that we need, like skillset, degree, city, functional title, and up will come anywhere from a hundred to several thousand people who fit that criteria. Then we go to LinkedIn and run the same search. If you’re in ZoomInfo with a picture, we’re going to call you first. Just reverse engineer what recruiters are doing so you get found.”