How to handle being fired at last job?

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Comments (16)

luke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

23 months ago

A lot of people get fired, don't feel bad about it. Just try to spin it into a positive, and don't got into details-you've learned how to better deal with difficult personalities.

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Jeff in Oxon Hill, Maryland

23 months ago

melissaC in Spokane, Washington said: I filled out a job application today, not really expecting to get a call back, but I did. Here's the problem: I was fired from my last job, which happened a little over a year ago. On the application today, under reason for leaving last job I put "problem with another employee, will explain further." This is the truth, I just didn't actually write that i was fired, which I know you shouldn't do.

My getting fired wasn't really fair, but I'm not going to say that at the interview. I got into an argument with my co-worker and she escalated things to a bad level and I'm the one who ended up getting fired. But my point is, I don't want to get into this with the guy at the interview tomorrow.... So what can I say that isn't a lie but that isn't exactly the truth either? It sounds really bad to say "I got into a fight with an employee and got fired," since there was a lot more to it than that and it really isn't as bad as it sounds.

Would it be best to just say we decided to mutually part ways?

The first thing to do is to check on what legally happened as opposed to what actually happened. Employers often "lay off" employees rather than "firing" them to protect against wrongful termination suits. If that is what happened to you, you can state that you were laid off and legally be correct.

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Displaced Legal Professional in Arvada, Colorado

23 months ago

I agree with Jeff about finding out what legally happened regarding your termination. Then use that reason as your explanation - if you're asked.

If you're asked about your last employer, keep it brief and to the point. You can say that you worked at that employer for X number of years. Say that you were responsible for X while you were there. Then stop talking. If they asked why you left, keep that brief as well.

Something else you might try is obtaining LOR(s) from the employer. Positive LORs might mitigate your termination and could obviate reference check phone calls. Your former supervisor may not provide one but other people in the company might. Make copies of your letters and present them during your interview.

Finally, in the future set forth on apps under "reason for leaving" the statement, "to be discussed at the interview." IMO one NEVER wants to set forth specifics of an involuntary termination in writing and especially on job apps. Job apps are legal documents as opposed to resumes, on which you can be who want to be, within reason.

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Jeff in Oxon Hill, Maryland

23 months ago

Generally it takes a lot of paperwork to fire someone for cause, because they need to gather documentation to show that they actually had cause to fire the employee. DLP, am I correct with my understanding that even in "at will employment" states, employers must at least follow their own policies and procedures before firing an employee, and document that they did so? Much easier to declare that the person's position has been eliminated, which legally means that they have been laid off.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Jeff in Oxon Hill, Maryland said: Generally it takes a lot of paperwork to fire someone for cause, because they need to gather documentation to show that they actually had cause to fire the employee. DLP, am I correct with my understanding that even in "at will employment" states, employers must at least follow their own policies and procedures before firing an employee, and document that they did so? Much easier to declare that the person's position has been eliminated, which legally means that they have been laid off.

In the past, whenever I had to fire someone, HR needed a lot of documentation. In the case of a downsize, I just had to choose 10 names; they were people that I would have probably had to fire anyway.

There is a bit of a myth that companies cannot say anything bad about you. That hasn't been my experience. Just sayin'.

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

23 months ago

melissaC in Spokane, Washington said: I filled out a job application today, not really expecting to get a call back, but I did. Here's the problem: I was fired from my last job, which happened a little over a year ago. On the application today, under reason for leaving last job I put "problem with another employee, will explain further." This is the truth, I just didn't actually write that i was fired, which I know you shouldn't do.

My getting fired wasn't really fair, but I'm not going to say that at the interview. I got into an argument with my co-worker and she escalated things to a bad level and I'm the one who ended up getting fired. But my point is, I don't want to get into this with the guy at the interview tomorrow.... So what can I say that isn't a lie but that isn't exactly the truth either? It sounds really bad to say "I got into a fight with an employee and got fired," since there was a lot more to it than that and it really isn't as bad as it sounds.

Would it be best to just say we decided to mutually part ways?

Believe it or not alot of people get fired, good people too.

But But But But, you never want to tell a new employer that if you can help it.

Maybe there is a manager at your old company that you had a good relationship with who you can put down on the application. Then you and him can cover it up so to speak.

If you do tell your new employer you got fired, keep it short, tell them what happened, and say what you learned from that experience.

Good Luck and Good Night.

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Displaced Legal Professional in Arvada, Colorado

23 months ago

Jeff in Oxon Hill, Maryland said: [A]m I correct with my understanding that even in "at will employment" states, employers must at least follow their own policies and procedures before firing an employee, and document that they did so? Much easier to declare that the person's position has been eliminated, which legally means that they have been laid off.
Of course, with at-will employment either employer or employee can terminate employment without notice. Therefore, IMO the paper trail is immaterial to the actual act of termination.

But IMO they should follow their own procedures in order to create a paper trail that indisputably justifies the termination, in order for them to CYA in the (unlikely) event of a wrongful termination lawsuit. Maybe also for UIB claims disputes.

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Displaced Legal Professional in Arvada, Colorado

23 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: There is a bit of a myth that companies cannot say anything bad about you.
Oh, they can say any damn thing they want about you. Whether it's wise is another matter entirely. Not only that, if what they say is true, the truth is, generally, a complete defense to a defamation claim.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Arvada, Colorado said: Oh, they can say any damn thing they want about you. Whether it's wise is another matter entirely. Not only that, if what they say is true, the truth is, generally, a complete defense to a defamation claim.

That has been my experience. Now in truth, most companies today speak in a rather passive/aggressive voice that neither sings your praises nor highlights your faults.

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melissaC in Spokane, Washington

23 months ago

wow, a lot more replies than I had anticipated. Hah. I had the interview today and it was very, VERY laid back. He briefly asked me about it and I said just as I had planned, told him that it wasn't a huge blow-out or anything, but that she and I had a conflict of interest and that I spoke with my former boss and we decided it was best that I leave. The interviewer said "Ok, that sounds fair." So things went ok. To the person who suggested that I look into whether I was fired or laid off, I was definitely fired. haha. No getting around that. Thanks for the input.

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Displaced Legal Professional in Arvada, Colorado

23 months ago

AFAIK, in Colorado, which you may recall, they don't need "cause." IMO what matters for UIB purposes is who caused the termination. That determination affects benefits awards.

In other words, if the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment determines the employer caused the termination, you're entitled to a full award, less offsets for severance, vacation pay, etc. If you caused the termination, you may be penalized, i.e., not receive a full award.

For employment app and interview purposes, one must always tell the truth, though, sometimes, the truth can be spun somewhat. The point there is your recollection of your termination still must be somewhat congruent with the employer's.

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melissaC in Spokane, Washington

23 months ago

Well when I got fired from that last job, technically I was the one who caused the termination. I was the one who started the confrontation, even though i was calm and collected and the other person is the one who took things to the next level. BUT I was still granted full unemployment benefits because not only did my former boss not respond to unemployment, but the way that he went about firing me was all wrong. He waited an entire week after the incident to do it, which made no sense to the unemployment office. So even though the termination was a direct result of something I did, I was still granted benefits. It just depends on how your boss handles it.

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Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado

23 months ago

Every situation is different. The division of labor and employment will first get your side. Then it will seek the employer's side. Sometimes the employer does not give its side.

I was terminated in my last situation and was paid severance and accrued personal time. However, the employer did not respond to the Division's request for his side, which totally floored me. I was granted a full award less severance and the accrued personal time.

Years before, I was terminated. I was told I could either be fired for unprofessional conduct (!) or resign and be given a LOR. I resigned because I knew that being asked to resign is tantamount to being fired.

I was first found to be responsible for my termination but I appealed. Hearing was set and rescheduled. In the interim, the employer missed a deadline and lost standing to appear. I still had to appear and present my case. The referee found that I was not responsible for my termination and ordered a full award. So, I had my cake and ate it too: I could state truthfully that I resigned my position and I was given a LOR.

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Years before, I was terminated. I was told I could either be fired for unprofessional conduct (!) or resign and be given a LOR. I resigned because I knew that being asked to resign is tantamount to being fired.

During my career, I have fired about a dozen people; sometimes you just have to.

One was a woman who put the company in a position of jeopardy by soliciting sex from her male co-workers. What shocked me was that her male co-workers brought this up. Yeah, who would have thought?

We dumped her emails which were actually OUR emails and they were pretty spicy. My boss and HR wanted to fire her immediately but I intervened because she was actually a good employee who was having personal problems at home.

Long story short, I asked her to resign and she did.

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E.R. in Portsmouth, Virginia

23 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: During my career, I have fired about a dozen people; sometimes you just have to.

One was a woman who put the company in a position of jeopardy by soliciting sex from her male co-workers. What shocked me was that her male co-workers brought this up. Yeah, who would have thought?

We dumped her emails which were actually OUR emails and they were pretty spicy. My boss and HR wanted to fire her immediately but I intervened because she was actually a good employee who was having personal problems at home.

Long story short, I asked her to resign and she did.

Oh my! And how goofy can one be to use corporate email and/or instant messaging to send dirty messages to people? Didn't she read the Employee Handbook (yes, I am serious about my handbook lol)?

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Bluetea in Texas

23 months ago

E.R. in Portsmouth, Virginia said: Oh my! And how goofy can one be to use corporate email and/or instant messaging to send dirty messages to people? Didn't she read the Employee Handbook (yes, I am serious about my handbook lol)?

You want to know the kicker? She was in the IT department.

Never, ever write an email at work that you wouldn't want your mother to read. They can track all this now.

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