Unjust Reason for Firing

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about explaining being fired:

I worked at company for three years and then I get fired. My boss said it was because of insubordination and that was not true. I went above and beyond for my boss. The boss has the start of dementia and forgets what he says. How should I explain my firing on job applications?

Signed, Applying

Dear Applying:

When applying, list the job skills and projects accomplished on which you worked in the past three years and in previous jobs if you were employed elsewhere. Of course also your resume should include your educational background. Adapt your cover letter to the job and company to which you are applying. Be positive and don’t exaggerate.You notice that so far I have not mentioned that you were fired or the reason your boss gave for that. It is because that need not be included in your application.

However, if in an interview you are asked why you are not employed, you can explain briefly and generally, “I worked for three years in my previous job and that is evidence that I was a responsible employee. I left because my boss and I no longer saw things the same way.” If the interview pushes you for more detail, you could respond, “My boss seemed to have changed and forget.”

Hopefully, you will have some positive evaluations of your work or references from coworkers or other sources. Or you could simply say, “It was time I moved on. I want to advance on my career path.” I wouldn’t describe your former boss as having the “start of dementia and forgets what he says.” It is bad to badmouth a previous employer. Stay positive. Apply thoughtfully and don’t allow this unhappy ending to three years crowd the good things you have done and can do out of your head.

Think of this as a detour on a career path rather than as just having to find another job. By that I mean take time to look at what you would like to do. See this as an opportunity to get additional training and/or to turn to a backup skill if your ideal job is hard to find. If you scan our Archives, you will see that you are not alone in being fired and that resilience is a necessary character trait in this job market. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, my signature sentence, might seem inappropriate for you as you are job hunting. Not so. During a job hunt, this is a time to think of what you can do to make a positive contribution in whatever job for which you apply. It is a time to get past me, me, me and to become a member of a work group/ team in a workplace that values we, we, we.

William Gorden