This is a guest post by Tracey Wik.

Getting fired or laid off can be daunting, heartbreaking at times, and a knock on your confidence.

However, depending on your perspective, it can also open doors to other career paths you never considered or were maybe too afraid to pursue.

If you have been fired or laid off, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. With big companies like Twitter and Amazon recently cutting their workforce, many people have lost their jobs over the past year. Rewriting your story and knowing how to tell it is the best thing you can do when applying for a new job. There is power in your story — and your passions — and sometimes it takes losing your job to figure that out.

Why do people get fired or laid off?

Although poor performance can lead to job loss, getting fired or laid off doesn’t always mean you did something wrong — it can happen to any of us. Often, companies facing budget cuts or financial pressure need to cut back on costs and are forced to decrease their employee count. Or perhaps, a company has to shift its business strategy due to changes in the market and consumer demands. This could also be a reason to cut back. Providing they follow all the relevant laws and practices when letting staff go, employers have no obligation to keep workers employed indefinitely.

What are common employee misconceptions after losing a job?

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that you cannot be honest about being fired. While it may be tempting to try to hide the fact that you were fired, it is important to be honest about your work history. Most employers will conduct a background check, and if they discover that you were fired, it will reflect poorly on your honesty and integrity.

Instead, try to focus on the skills and experience you gained during your previous job and how they can be applied to the new position. Employers today are looking for workers who are self-aware, demonstrate personal growth, and an ability to learn. Nothing exemplifies this better than the willingness to candidly discuss how you learned from your mistakes and how the learning can be applied to this next job.

Many people lose hope and wonder if they will ever find another job again. Many of us have probably had that thought at some point. While it can be difficult to find a new job after being fired, it is certainly not impossible. Plenty of employers are willing to give candidates who have been fired a chance — especially if they can provide a satisfactory explanation for their termination and demonstrate their ability to learn from their mistakes.

How do you amend the story of your employment history?

Rewriting your story is far from creating a fairytale in which you are the hero and your last employer is the villain. It’s more about how you present the facts while owning your part in how it all went down. Consider these tips when preparing for a job interview.

1. Use the opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding your firing in a positive light. Providing context into why you were fired or laid off can prevent future employers from making assumptions about your skills and job performance. It is best to clear things up from the very start.

For example: “I was recently fired from my previous job due to a company-wide downsizing. While this was a difficult experience, I am grateful for the opportunity to explore new career opportunities and find a position that aligns with my goals and values.”

2. Emphasize any personal growth or development you experienced as a result of being fired. Show your employer that you reflected on your experiences and have gained valuable skills along the way.

3. Highlight any achievements or successes you had during your previous job. Get as specific as you can by highlighting contributions and results. Celebrating and sharing joys and achievements can seem scary, as none of us want to come across as boastful. But remember, you are selling yourself and employers want to know what you have done! Don’t let the shame of getting fired keep you from highlighting your successes.

4. Emphasize your dedication and commitment to your work. It is never a bad idea to highlight your work ethic and excitement. If you continue to show discouragement or shame in your interview, this may deter employers from hiring you. Show them your ability to move on from setbacks.

Any type of job loss is hard — there is no doubt about that. With the right tools, however, you have the ability to bounce back and maybe even discover your true passions along the way. Losing a job is not a personal failure. It is not a reflection of your personal worth or abilities. Claim your story and get back out there! You still have so much to offer.


About the Guest Post Author:
Tracey Wik is an unstoppable business strategist, coach, and speaker who can transform leaders’ visions into reality — no matter where they are or where they want to go. She helps leaders reinvent what is possible for their work and their lives, encouraging them to love Sunday nights instead of fear Monday mornings.