Being told that you are going to be let go is one of the worst things any employee can hear. Not only are you out of a job, you now have to explain to a prospective employer why you were let go, likely putting you at a disadvantage when compared to other candidates.

At this point, it’s normal for you to feel disheartened, discouraged, and unsure about where to start. Fortunately, how you format your Cover Letter and Resume and how you approach your dismissal in an interview can improve your chances of finding new employment.

In this post, we address how you can stand out among your fellow candidates and get offered a job by overcoming obstacles related to your dismissal in your Cover Letter, Resume, and interview.

Why Were You Fired?

First things first. The reason why you were let go is essential to how you will address it in your Cover Letter, Resume, and interview.

Keep in mind that people are let go for plenty of reasons that are completely unrelated to performance.

For instance, the company you work for could be downsizing or closing. Even something like there not being enough work for you to do is a valid reason for your employer to dismiss you.

When it’s performance related, however, it can be tricky, but handling being fired in your Cover Letter and Resume is significantly easier than discussing it in an interview. If you were fired for a specific reason, the best thing to do is ask yourself why and if that is something you can change.

Be practical and realistic. If you were fired for being habitually late but haven’t made any effort to be more punctual, perhaps it’s time to work on that aspect of yourself. That way, you can present an honest answer when your interviewer inevitably asks, “How will that issue affect you at our company?”

Moreover, changing unprofessional practices now will prevent you from being dismissed for the same reason in the future.

In short, start preparing for your job search by asking yourself why you were fired or let go and, if it was related to your performance, what you can do to stop it from happening again.

Writing a Cover Letter Post-Termination

The purpose of a Cover Letter is to show a prospective employer that you are a worthy candidate for a position in their company; you discuss your achievements, your education, and your relevant experience—not your weaknesses or professional fiascos. Those conversations are better saved for an interview.

It’s worth mentioning that some sources say, if you were dismissed for something other than your behavior, to include this information in the Cover Letter. This may be good advice to combat a well-known termination, like when the company you work for unexpectedly goes belly up.

However, a great Cover Letter focuses on selling you and setting you apart from other candidates, so you can snag that follow up phone call from the interviewer. Not to mention, Cover Letters are usually only a page and often not more than four paragraphs. So, why waste that precious space?

Staying Professional in Your Resume After Being Fired

Consider two things when writing your Resume after being let go:

  1. How long did you work there?
  2. Was that job related to the one I am looking for?

Let’s say you only worked for a company for a month and were fired for something unpleasant like a bad attitude, it might be a good idea to leave that position off your Resume. This especially holds true if the job is irrelevant to the position you are currently looking for.

That said, use your judgment. Many employers expect to see a chronological work history with very few gaps, so cutting huge chunks of your work history is ill-advised. Also keep in mind, you may have to explain those gaps in the interview.

Handling a Termination in the Interview

The interview is your final opportunity to outshine your fellow candidates and land a job. How you answer tough questions could make or break your chances.

Non-performance related dismissals are fairly easy: just be direct about your situation. Your interviewer should be versed enough in business to know that things like downsizing or seasonal dismissals happen and do not reflect poorly on the employee.

That said, when you’re unexpectedly let go for reasons other than your own actions, it can be upsetting. Avoid debasing the company you worked for, even if you found out you were let go by going to work to a closed door and a sign reading “out of business”. Always stay positive and professional while discussing a dismissal.

When you were fired due to your behavior, things get a bit more difficult. But, again, the best option is to discuss the situation professionally. You may be tempted to explain what happened by bringing up problems with the company that let you go or the boss that fired you, but this can make you seem unprofessional.

Instead of making excuses or passing blame, focus on what you learned from the situation and how you’ve improved yourself or your skillset to mitigate this problem in the future. Essentially, turn a failure into a triumph by expressing how you evaluated and bettered yourself.

If you want to give your interviewer proof that you’ve corrected the fault that got you fired and know of an old manager who can confirm it, consider asking them to write a Letter of Recommendation. This will help you when you say the issue you were once fired over is no longer a problem.

In the end, how you approach it is up to you, but demonstrating growth and being honest will, at the very least, show your potential employer that you’re a ready professional that can handle adversity.

Hearing “You’re Hired!” After “You’re Fired!”

It can be hard to find a new job after hearing “you’re fired!” It could leave you skeptical about your future and in a funk that makes finding a new job much more difficult.

Improve your chances of being hired by a new company by using these tips on how to present yourself in your Cover Letter, Resume, and interview after being dismissed.

Posted by Ashley Camarneiro

Ashley is an experienced researcher and writer with an interest in real estate, contract, and family law. Before starting at LawDepot in the summer of 2017, Ashley worked as a legal assistant in the corporate and family law sector.