1. Blog
  2. Career
  3. How to give a reason for leaving if you were fired from your job: tips & advice
Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

How to give a reason for leaving if you were fired from your job: tips & advice

8 min read
How to give a reason for leaving if you were fired from your job: tips & advice
Artwork by:Kate October
Job searching is hard enough without having to admit that you were sacked. But how can you side-step this issue? Take a look at our complete guide on how to give a reason for leaving if you have been fired.

The worst has happened. Your manager called you into their office and said the words you’d been dreading: “We have some difficult news. We’re letting you go.” Your heart sinks and you feel sick. When the shock is over, though, you have to get back on the horse.

Applying for jobs after you’ve been fired is no easy feat. Not only will your confidence be at an all-time low, but you may struggle to find the right way to tell new employers. How do you give a reason for leaving your previous role when it wasn’t exactly your choice?

Here at Resume.io, we have the resources you need to propel yourself toward success. In the following guide, we will help you tackle this conundrum while covering the following: 

  • Advice on how you can handle being let go from your job
  • How to explain that you’ve been fired on your CV and cover letter
  • The best way to give a reason for leaving when you’re in an interview

How to handle being sacked 

In the midst of being fired, chances are you’re hardly in the mood to start applying for jobs again. Before you put yourself back out there, there are some steps you will need to take.

  • Allow yourself to grieve. The grief of losing a job is akin to what you experience when someone dies. It hurts and it’s hard to overcome. Don’t push those emotions away. You may need to give yourself some space and time to mourn the role.
  • Learn from your mistakes. If you lost your job because of something you did, what have you learned from that experience? What positive lesson can you take forward? It may be helpful to note down anything that comes to mind.
  • Take the chance to pivot. Losing your job is awful, but it offers you a unique opportunity. Perhaps it’s time to do something new. This may be the time to switch careers and try something that you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Boost your confidence. When you get fired, it knocks your confidence. However, remember that this is not the end of the world. Take the time to rebuild your confidence. That may mean doing some coaching or taking a course to upskill.
Expert tip

Make sure you know your rights!

Being let go is never easy. However, it is important that you understand your legal position here. According to UK law, when an employer dismisses you, they must:

  • Give a valid reason that they can justify
  • Have acted reasonably in the circumstances

It doesn’t end there. Employers have to jump through more hoops when it comes to ending a worker’s contract. These stipulations include: 

  • Being consistent in their decisions. That means not firing you for something that they allow other employees to do.
  • Investigating the situation in full before making the decision. For example, if they let you go because of a complaint, they need to thoroughly look into it first.

Think you have been unfairly dismissed? If so, you can contact Citizens Advice for information on what to do next. You may be able to challenge the employer’s decision.

Including a reason for leaving on your CV

Worried about admitting that you’ve been fired on your CV? Here’s one important thing you should remember: You don’t always have to give a reason for leaving a role. 

When you’re writing the experience section of your CV, you only need to include the basics. That is your job title, the company, and your dates of employment. There’s no space to state your reason for leaving a job, and so you simply don’t have to. 

Writing a reason for leaving in your cover letter

Your cover letter is the most freeform part of your application. So, if you do want to share your reason for leaving, here is the place to do it. Some candidates prefer to outline the fact that they were let go ahead of landing an interview. That way, you don’t have to face a potentially awkward line of questioning when you are sitting across from the interviewer. Should you decide to share the news in this letter, here are two tips to help you out: 

Keep it brief and professional

Overexplaining yourself can sound like you're making excuses. Refrain from writing a paragraph about why you were let go and stick to the facts instead. A brief explanation of the fact that you were let go will cover it. For example, you could say something like “This contract was terminated in May last year”. You don’t have to add any emotional weight to the statement. Instead, simply let the reader know what happened in plain terms. 

Give a valid reason 

Why did your employer let you go? If your reason for leaving was out of your hands, you can say so here. For instance, you might say “My employer terminated this contract due to funding challenges”. This explanation tells the hiring manager that it was not your fault you lost your job. You have given a valid reason as to why you were fired from the role. Of course, if you were let go due to a misdemeanour, you might want to avoid this entirely.

Giving a reason for leaving in an interview 

Interviews can be tough at the best of times. When you throw in an awkward interview question, things can be even harder. Should the interviewer ask you to give a reason for leaving a job from which you’ve been fired, you may start to panic. Don’t do that. There are ways that you can share your experience without hiding your chances of success: 

Avoid using the F-word

Saying you’ve been “fired” or “sacked” is a mistake. That type of language carries negative connotations. It conjures a boss shouting at you that you’re done — a la Alan Sugar. Use softer language instead. For example, you can say that you were “let go” or “laid off”. 

Give a quick explanation 

Don’t merely leave it there. The interviewer will want to know why you were let go. Give them a brief reason for leaving. If you have already covered this in your cover letter, you can refer back to it. If the termination wasn’t your fault, be clear about that. However, if you did mess up — as we all do from time to time — now is the time to be honest. 

State what you’ve learned

Okay, let’s say that you were let go because you did something wrong or failed to meet your employer’s expectations. That’s disappointing; both for you and for them. If you’ve had to admit this during an interview, flip the narrative and state what you learned from the experience. Even the most successful people fail at times. Talk about what went wrong, what you took from that experience, and, of course, what you do differently now. 

Key takeaways 

  • Being fired can be painful. Make sure that you understand your rights and check that the dismissal was lawful first.
  • While it may be hard, it’s important to get back out there and start looking for new jobs. Take this chance to revamp your CV and look for new vacancies.
  • Giving a reason for leaving when you’ve been fired can be tough. Follow our advice to make sure you handle this issue like a pro.
  • No matter what, you have to keep moving forward. Being let go is a part of modern life and there are plenty of exciting opportunities out there for you.
Build your CV in 15 minutes
Build your CV in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested CV templates that follow the exact ‘CV rules’ employers look for.
Create My CV
Build your CV in 15 minutes
Build your CV in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested CV templates that follow the exact ‘CV rules’ employers look for.
Create My CV
Share this article
Keep reading
Career12 min read
The complete guide to organisational skills + examples
The Complete Guide to Organisational Skills + Examples
CV Help17 min read
What are hard skills? 40+ examples that employers want
What are hard skills? 40+ examples that employers want
Career19 min read
How to apply for a job when you’re over 50 and avoid age discrimination
How to apply for a job when you’re over 50 and avoid age discrimination
Career10 min read
How to introduce yourself professionally + examples
How to introduce yourself professionally + examples
Browse All
This website uses cookies to improve user experience and perform analytics and marketing. By using our website, you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.
Accept Cookies