How To Talk About Being Fired Or Laid Off

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Losing your job is a terrible thing to experience, but it happens to more people than you think—we just rarely talk about it, though we should, to normalize it and support one another (IMO). Life goes on, but applying for your next job after losing your job can feel especially daunting. Here are a few tips on how to talk about being fired or laid off in an interview.

First let's distinguish the two: being fired is typically a result of your personal performance, while being laid off is a result of team downsizing or restructuring when business is slow or the company loses a client. 

Talking About Being Fired
This is the trickier of the two, but plenty of people bounce back from being fired. The key is to be explicit about how you were lacking in your last job, and what you've done (and continue to do) to improve in that area. Showing a level of self-awareness, humility, and the want to improve is a much better look than being apologetic, ashamed or vague about being fired. How has being fired changed how you'll approach your next job? What will you do differently? 

If you feel like you were unfairly fired—for example, you didn't get along with your boss—avoid being salty in interviews. Whatever the situation was, you don't want to come off as disgruntled or like you're badmouthing your former boss/company to your potential employer. Focus on things that are in your control, like establishing more open communication or learning to work with different personality types. How did the experience shape what you're looking for in your next job or boss?

Image from    HBO

Image from HBO

Talking About Being Laid Off
Unfortunately, being laid off is a reality of the industry, and there are many reasons why a company might lay off whole teams of people at once. Because being laid off is often outside of your control, think of it as a bump in the road, not a source of shame on your resume. Most hiring managers will be understanding of your situation.

That being said, being laid off still feels awful. In interviews, try to talk about being laid off matter-of-factly, and focus on how you've used it as an opportunity to reflect on how you've grown and what comes next. When we stop working unexpectedly, it pulls us out of our routine and gives us a chance to really think about what we want in our next job. Again, forward-looking self-awareness will go a long way.

Image from    Chippy the Dog

Image from Chippy the Dog

Overall, the more you treat your interviews as a fresh start and bring a growth-oriented mindset to any conversation about losing your job, the better off you'll be. Often, these hiccups in our career path turn out to be the push we need to get to something better. Because ultimately, how you come back from losing your job says a lot more about you than the fact that you lost it in the first place. 

You got this,
Natalie