When your boss calls you into their office and asks you to shut the door behind you, you know that the writing's on the wall. Being fired hurts — it knocks your ego and may leave you feeling worried about your professional future. However, it’s not always the disaster you imagine. Hiring managers don’t look as unfavorably on candidates who were let go as they do on those who jump ship. Yes, with the right advice, you can get back on board.
Understanding what to say when you get fired from a job is the first step in this process. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here at Resume.io, we have everything you need to boost your career. In the following expert guide, we will be covering these topics:
- What to put on an application for the reason for leaving the job if fired
- How to say you’ve been fired in your cover letter
- What to say at a job interview if you’ve been fired
How to say you were fired on an application
Getting let go isn't the end of the world… or the end of your career!
If you were fired, what do you put on applications? That’s a good question. Chances are, the form will include a short previous employment section. You may simply want to give the dates of employment and leave out any reason for your departure.
That’s one way to go about it. However, if you feel that you want to share that you’ve been fired, this is your first opportunity to do so. Steering clear of the word may help. Pick a better way to say “fired”. For example, you may want to go with “laid off” or “terminated.”
Don’t worry about being vague here. Your application is only your first interaction with the potential employer. If you manage to progress in the process, you will have other chances to speak to them about your last role. Plus, you can explain more in your cover letter.
How to say you were fired on your cover letter
As the most freeform part of any application, your cover letter is the smartest place to explain why you were let go. You can go into as much or as little detail as you need here. Whether you get down to the nitty-gritty details will depend on the job posting. Has the employer specifically asked you to include a reason? If not, you can likely breeze over this point. Should they have stated that you need to include this detail, it’s time to go at it.
As always, honesty is the best policy. Trying to disguise the fact that you’ve been fired will get you nowhere fast. Once you’ve written a strong cover letter introduction and led with your strengths, openly state that you were “let go” or “laid off” from your previous role.
You don’t need to go into too much detail. However, you should include a short and sweet reason for the termination. For example, if you were fired because you didn’t meet your monthly targets, you may want to say that in the most straightforward way. To put a positive spin on this experience, you may also wish to include what you learned from it.
Once you have covered that tricky topic, be sure to leave things on an optimistic note. You may want to highlight why you’re drawn to this new company specifically or say what you hope to achieve in the future with them. Your cover letter gives you the chance to showcase your enthusiasm for the job at hand. Make sure you don’t waste the opportunity.
How to say you were fired in an interview scenario
You’ve made it to the interview stage . Whether or not you’ve disclosed that you were fired yet, the interviewer may want more details. When you’re sitting face-to-face with the hiring manager and they ask why you left your previous role, you need to know what to say.
Chances are, your stomach drops when you think about uttering the words “I got fired from my job”. That’s natural and, frankly, it sounds overly dramatic. To help you side-step this potentially awkward conversation, here are some simple approaches that you can use:
Don’t say the F-word
Think of a better way to say “fired”. You might want to go in softer by saying that you were “let go” or “laid off”. The words you use have real power. “Fired” is an inherently negative word and will stick out in an interviewer’s mind.
Keep your explanation short
If you’re panicking about what to say, you might end up rambling on. Don’t make that mistake. Stick to the facts and explain what happened in the least emotionally-charged way. For example, if you were let go because the company downsized, just say that.
Look toward the future!
As you did in your cover letter, you want to put things in a positive light. Talk about what the experience taught you, how you have adapted your behavior or approach since, and what you want from the future of your career. Hiring managers know that people fail from time to time. That in itself doesn’t matter. It’s what you decide to do next that matters.
Move the conversation on
You don’t want to dwell on this topic for too long. Think of ways that you can move the conversation on. You might decide to ask the interviewer a question or talk about what you hope to achieve in your next role. Make sure that you only do this after you have answered the interviewer's question. You don’t want to act like a politician and deflect here.
- Getting fired can knock your confidence but it’s not the end of your professional life.
- You don’t always have to put a reason for leaving a role on your application. However, if you choose to do so, there are ways to soften the blow.
- If you make it to the interview stage, you may find that the hiring manager asks you about your last role. Plan ahead and figure out what you want to say.
- Follow our expert advice and you might just land your next job in no time!