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Other What to do in your job search if you've been fired

  1. Aug 26, 2017 #1


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    Hi everyone. This scenario is not about me, but about someone know. He had been working as a statistician/consultant but for reasons related to his performance, he ended up being fired from his company recently (if it matters, he had already thought about leaving the company prior to his firing, and he's aware of his performance issues and knows how he should address them). At the same time, he has an upcoming interview with another firm who has expressed an interest in him.

    The concern is how my friend/acquaintance can best explain his current circumstances, specifically about why he is leaving his current position. I haven't responded back to him on any advice yet, so I was hoping to ask all of you here on your thoughts.
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  3. Aug 26, 2017 #2


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    Wouldn't the details of the answer to your question depend a lot on what were his performance issues about? For example, hypothetically,
    • If the old job was too demanding for his qualifications, he could stress that he is currently addressing this by completing an advanced training or an additional degree, or
    • if he is not good at (large) team work, he could make clear that he prefers to work on tasks he can do alone or with few people.
    I don't know anything specifically about hiring procedures in North America, but if I were your acquaintance I would be factual and brief. I would also clearly explain which measures were already taken by me to mitigate the issue.
  4. Aug 26, 2017 #3
    I think this is the key, with the emphasis on brevity. Try to put the issue to bed as quickly as possible.
  5. Aug 26, 2017 #4

    Dr Transport

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    If they ask, just say that the position was not a good fit....
  6. Aug 26, 2017 #5
    Tough call. I would also emphasize brief, but also work very hard never to say anything negative about a past employer.

    The rest depends highly on the details. Gotta be honest, but there is not anything dishonest about being private.

    "In the interests of respecting (former employer), perhaps I shouldn't say much more than it wasn't a good fit. Let's discuss how the current position might be a better fit."
  7. Aug 27, 2017 #6


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    First, your friend needs to take a hard and critical look at why the first position didn't work out. After a cooling down period, he may even want to contact his previous employer to discuss this objectively. It may be that he is already well aware of the reasons for his termination, but this may even be a way to end on as amicable terms as possible, given the circumstances, and give idea of what the previous employer might say about him if contacted.

    With that information he can then come up with a plan for addressing any issues that are under his control. As already pointed out, it's important that if there were specific shortcomings on his part, that they be addressed in with tangible evidence of improvement if at all possible. Often, simply coming up with an "I'll do better next time" plan may be a hard sell.

    In the interview itself it's best to focus on the way forward. I agree with Dr. Courtney, that your friend and his employer are entitled to some privacy. Having to fire someone doesn't make the previous employer look good. It's entirely plausible that they were at fault at least partially for why the position didn't work out - they could have hired him into a position he was unqualified for, placed unrealistic expectations on him, not given him adequate training, or placed him in a situation where he felt he had to bend the rules in order to achieve the expectations on him. Hence, for all parties involved, it may be best not to discuss the specifics of why the previous position ended. It didn't work out. Your friend can use that experience to move forward and create a position that will work out.
  8. Aug 31, 2017 #7


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    It's not the end of the world if that is the concern. I've found that a star employee at one company can be the redheaded step child at another one. Sometimes, two companies, with different cultures, values and responsibilities may get different output from different employees. I once left a company where I loved going to work every day and enjoyed all my co-workers to a job where I didn't enjoy the culture or the work. Thus my performance slipped and my motivation became lacking. After 6 months, I left the firm and regained my motivation.

    When I was interviewing, I was often asked why I planned to leave so soon after starting a new job. I was simply honest, "I was unmotivated at my current position for reason x y z and in my job search I am looking for a company that values a b c." While, not a direct analogy to being fired, I think being able to articulate what the other company lacked that this new company has and explain why you need those things would be beneficial.
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