Applying for new jobs after being fired adds another layer of stress. You cannot lie in your interview, but you’re afraid to tell the truth. The task seems daunting and undoable. I’m here to tell you that you can get a job after being fired for misconduct.
I’ve helped many of my clients find great jobs after being fired. It’s a matter of swallowing a little bit of pride, learning from the experience, and launching a fresh start. How to get a job after being fired for misconduct is about upholding your integrity. Be honest and forthright. I can assure you that you are not the only one who has gone through this.
I am going to walk you through the steps and give you examples of how to explain your situation.
Know the difference between being laid off and fired.
If you were fired, you were not laid off. Do not tell your interviewer you were laid off. When you’re fired, it pertains just to you. Whereas layoffs typically apply to a group of employees. For example, budget cuts forced the lay-off of all the employees in the production department. Background checks will reveal there were no company layoffs so, tell the truth.
Own your actions.
At the very core, we are human beings. We appreciate it when we’re not lied to. We also know that making mistakes is normal – it’s how we deal with our mistakes that sets us apart. Own your actions.
Be succinct in your responses but include details of what you learned.
If you were fired for misconduct, it will inevitably come out. Keep the reasons for your misconduct short and pointed. Elaborate on what you learned from the experience. What I mean is, use one to two sentences to say what happened; use 3 to 5 sentences to explain what you learned. You want the employer to believe that you will not do this again.
Rehearse before your interview.
Knowing exactly what to say before going into the interview will help you tremendously. Rehearse your response. And rehearse how to keep the interview moving forward after giving your explanation. Do this by asking questions about the job you’re applying for. Follow the guidelines above:
- Admit to being fired.
- Own your action
- Be succinct as to why, detailed as to what you’ve learned.
- Ask questions to move the interview forward.
Top five reasons to be fired for misconduct and sample explanations.
Here I’m going to dive into how to explain what happened using the top five reasons people are fired for misconduct. Remember, you will need to tailor the response to your situation.
- Poor Performance. This is the most common reason people are let go. This can be anything from not meeting goals and expectations to needing more oversight or consistently having to re-do work.
Explanation. I was let go from my last position because I was not hitting sales goals consistently. I was getting better each month, but I did not reach my quota fast enough. I am new to sales and was eager to give it a shot. I learned a lot from this position including how to communicate effectively, how to build relationships with consumers, and how to handle objections from potential customers. I believe working for a company offering in-depth sales training will only increase my potential and the growth I was experiencing.
- Inappropriate behavior or misconduct. This is the biggie and includes verbal abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, hazing, among others.
Explanation. I was let go for sexual harassment. I enjoy telling jokes and never intended to offend anyone. Unfortunately, some found my jokes to be deeply offensive. I am deeply remorseful as I really enjoyed working for XYZ company, but I do understand their position to uphold their policy. Even though I was let go, I took it upon myself to handwrite apologies to the offended coworkers.
- Taking too much time off. Now, most time off is labeled PTO or paid time off rather than sick time and vacation time. However, taking more PTO than you’re allotted or taking long breaks might be grounds for dismissal.
Explanation. I was terminated for taking too much time off. I did not communicate effectively the reasons for taking so much time off. I realize now that I should have made every effort to find solutions to why I needed extended time off such as working remotely rather than simply taking time off.
- Violating company policy. Each company is different, but policy violations include inappropriate use of company equipment, use of a cell phone at work, dress code, and others.
Explanation. I was let go for excessive use of my cell phone. I was dealing with a timely family matter. I should have met with my supervisor ahead of time to let him know what was happening and ask how best to handle the requisite cell phone use. I learned a valuable lesson about communication and solving problems before they become problems.
- Substance abuse on the job. Most often this is drinking, smoking, or use of recreational drugs; however, it can also include abuse of prescription narcotics.
Explanation. I was fired for drinking at work. My employer was extraordinarily gracious and offered to get me help for my drinking. Losing my job was rock bottom for me. I have since quit drinking altogether. I regularly attend AA meetings and have been sober for 90 days.
These are just examples. If you were laid off for inappropriate cell phone use and it had nothing to do with your family, you will have to change the “why.” If you are caught in a lie, you absolutely will not get the job. If you are honest and can show that you can take responsibility and make positive changes for yourself and for the company, you’ve got a shot.
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