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So, You Got Fired? How to Explain it to Potential Employers

you are fired photo
Photo by Sean MacEntee

You’re preparing your resume, or are contacted to interview for your dream job. You’re well qualified for the job – it’s the perfect opportunity. There’s just one problem – you were  fired from your last job. How can you include this job experience on your resume? How will you answer the interview

First, breathe… don’t panic. Getting fired doesn’t have to derail your job search efforts. There are a few ways to handle this:

When it comes to writing your resume, ask yourself: “how relevant was the experience?”  Where you working at the company for 10-plus years before they let you go? In that case, you don’t want to just scrap the job because that’s the same as throwing away 10 years of work experience. Also, a gap of employment on your resume could be considered a red flag to employers.

If you were only at the job for a few months, it probably won’t hurt to leave it off your resume completely.

Another thing to consider is the reason behind the firing. Was it due to forces outside of your control or the result of poor work performance? In this economy, not many employers will blink an eye at job candidates that have experienced a company downsizing , reorganization, or going out of business; but if your performance is in question, convincing employers of your value will be more challenging.

The best way to handle the question of firing during a job interview is to keep calm and think carefully about your answers before you speak. These tips can help:

 Don’t Lie

This is a situation where the truth is bound to come out; and if it’s different than what you’ve stated, you’ll look bad. Be honest, keep your reply brief and focus only on what’s relevant. If there were extenuating circumstances, you’ll get the chance to explain.

When you’re invited to an interview, it means the employer is interested. You’ll stand a better chance at receiving a job offer if you can keep things positive and show why you’d be a valuable asset.

Highlight Core Skills, Achievements, and Accomplishments

A good way to deflect from something  negative is to accentuate the positive. Prospective employers want employees with specialized skills and a proven track record of performance. Remember: talking about what you’ve accomplished isn’t bragging; it’s showing a potential employer that you’re the best candidate to fill their job vacancy.

Compile Your Best References

Sometimes employers ask for references and sometimes they don’t. Assemble a reference page of co-workers, clients, managers, vendors – anyone who can speak positively about you as a professional.  You can also provide letters of recommendation. Submit your references and recommendations along with your resume.

Don’t Bad Mouth Past Employers

No matter how badly things went down at your old job; regardless of how much of a tyrant your previous employer was, NEVER make negative comments. It’s extremely unprofessional and can cause prospective employers to view you in a negative light. Keep the focus on the work you performed.


Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If you answered “no,” we should talk. Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation. 


Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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