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Dealing with Dismissal


By Stephanie Clark

dealing with dismissalWhen I was terminated my self-confidence plummeted. Even though the reason for dismissal was unrelated to performance, nonetheless, as is typical, I felt shame and then anger, was hesitant to launch a job search, and didn’t know where to turn for assistance. (As it turned out the company I worked for closed shop and I landed the best job I had ever had to that point, so being fired turned into a bonus.)

No matter the reason, if the dismissed employee is to resurrect a career, a job search must be launched. But how does one overcome the distress that accompanies this unexpected and forced job search?

Is Lying Justified?
In life and love, small white lies may be justified. But when writing a resume or replying to interview questions, a lie has no colour, and no lie is justified. Discovered even years later, lying may be grounds for another dismissal. Best to avoid a double-whammy!
Practice Admitting to the Situation with Honesty and Brevity
It is up to the job hunter to compose and practice delivering a statement or two explaining the circumstances that led to the dismissal. For example, “With a new director who was committed to rolling out his vision, my role was deemed redundant,” or “The corporation decided to re-organize and several staff found themselves similarly laid off.” While speaking, make sure your voice is calm, and that you convey no anger or depression, whether in your body language or vocal expression.

If the position was quite short-lived, and there is a reason for including the position on the resume (hence the need to address it), a short “It just didn’t work out” may suffice.  

Reframe the Experience
Rather than dwell on the dismissal, after sharing your prepared response to the “why did you leave your last employer” question, immediately refocus your attention on the position’s positives. Enthusiastically share how you saved significant time by modernizing a form; how you implemented new customer service ideas that reduced complaints; how your engagement improved teamwork and morale … all those juicy examples of how your performance improved productivity. And smile!
Dismissed For Cause
Again, no lying is justified. With the internet’s social and business networking sites, secrets aren’t easily kept. Take responsibility for your role and then share how you’ve worked on fixing the issue that got you fired, like working with a career coach, seeking a mentor, self-study, lots of reading.
Erasing Doubts
In order to erase any lingering doubts, the job hunter must be prepared with strong responses that clearly communicate relevant skills. Address each hiring requirement with specific examples that communicate knowledge and skills that prove your near perfect match.
This is the time to take an extra step, for example, by preparing a leave-behind document, perhaps in a T-chart format, that reconfirms precisely how your experience matches the company’s requirements.
One Last Word
The truth is, having been terminated isn’t as big a deal as job hunters think. Dealing with it in an interview is more about your attitude than about the termination. Face it squarely and answer the question matter-of-factly. If you don’t dwell on it, neither will the interviewer.

– submitted by Stephanie Clark, Professional Resume Writer and Interview Coach at

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