Eleana Bowman
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Community Specialist
Get a job after getting fired
Last updated: August 12, 2022
Eleana Bowman
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Get a job after getting fired
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0.9% of people who leave their jobs have been fired or laid off. Losing your job can be unexpected, and it’s normal to feel a range of emotions.

But, the good news is there are currently around 11.3 million job openings in the US. Being let go doesn’t mean you can’t move on.

If you were fired from your last job, there are a few things you can do to make landing a new role much easier.

We’ve put together the following guide to help you get a fresh start. We’ll explain what you should do after getting fired and give you tips on how to get a job.

Why do people get fired?

In most US states, employers don't need a motive to fire someone. But, hiring new employees takes time and money, so there will usually be a reason behind the decision.

Sometimes people are fired for minor reasons. For example, they could be late for work, or they might not perform their job to a high enough standard.

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There are also more serious reasons. For example, people can get fired for damaging company property, sexual harassment, bullying, drugs and alcohol at work, theft, or dishonesty.

If you think you've been fired due to discrimination, retaliation, or there's been a breach of your employment contract, you should seek legal advice from an employment attorney. It's illegal to let someone go on these grounds.

What should you do after getting fired?

Getting fired can come as a shock. The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and look after yourself. Take the time you need to reflect and think about your career goals.

You'll still have bills to pay, so you should speak to your local unemployment office. If you were fired, you might be entitled to unemployment benefits. The eligibility requirements can vary between states and will depend on your individual circumstances.

You may be given a termination letter and an exit interview with the HR (Human Resources) manager. If you've been working at the company for a reasonable period of time, you could be entitled to a severance package. You could be entitled to unused benefits and paid time off (PTO).

If you've been fired due to an allegation of misconduct or you've done something illegal, you may need to address the issue.

You can speak to a lawyer or get more information about employee rights from the US government website's Labor Laws and Issues section.

Tips to get a job after you are fired

You can still get a job even if you've been fired. Get ready for your next role with these seven job seeker tips:

1. Update your resume

If you’ve been working it could have been a while since you’ve looked at your resume. Before you start applying for a new job, make sure your resume shines.

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Even if you were fired, you can still include the position on your resume. Potential employers can see gaps in your resume as a red flag, and the skills you gained could be valuable.

You don’t need to give a reason for why you left your last job on your resume. Just focus on any relevant skills and duties.

Make sure your personal details are up to date and check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors. And, don’t forget to make it ATS (applicant tracking system) friendly. These days, many employers use software to screen resumes before a real person sees them.

Learn more by reading our ATS-friendly resume tips.

2. Ask for references

If you were fired, your previous employer might not be the right person to give you a reference. However, there could be other people in the workplace who could vouch for your skills and work ethic.

References can help boost your application. Is there a manager or coworker who could write you a letter of recommendation? Or, would someone be comfortable giving a reference over the phone if you get through the application process?

If you don’t have anyone from your previous workplace that you can ask, look at your professional network. You could have a teacher or friend in the same industry who will put in a good word for you.

3. Volunteer

Getting fired can make you lose confidence. And if you were at fault, you could be worried about how you'll explain it to a future employer.

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One way you can gain new skills and get your confidence back is by volunteering. You can include your role as a volunteer on your resume. You'll meet new friends as you give back to the community.

There are different options available, depending on your interests. For example, you could volunteer at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen.

Volunteering will make you feel good, and you may even meet a new contact who could help you get a job.

4. Be positive

Try to have a positive attitude. Your cover letter and resume should focus on your skills and experience. While you should be honest, you don't need to go into too much detail about why you left the company.

Even if you were wrongfully terminated, focus on the positives. Did you learn anything from the role? Has the experience changed your career path?

If you're serious about finding a new job, hiring managers will be looking for friendly and optimistic people. Speaking negatively about your former employer or coworkers can make a bad impression.

5. Expand your network

Your professional network is made up of people who support your career goals. They can be friends, family members, teachers, coworkers, and former managers.

Having a strong professional network can help you get a job. Someone in your network could have a connection who is hiring in your chosen career field. Or, they could act as a mentor and give you career advice.

Now is the time to expand your network. You can reach out to people you already know and ask if they can introduce you to their contacts. You can also meet people online.

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Did you know you can sign up for a Jobcase account and connect with like-minded individuals? We have an active community, and you can even create a free resume.

6. Upskill

Think about your current skill level. Are there any areas where you could improve? For example, would you benefit from a typing, bookkeeping, or management course?

While you're between jobs, you can use the time to upskill. Whether it's a short online course or an associate's degree, anything you learn can be added to your resume.

If you're planning to stay in the same industry, focus on upskilling in areas that will appeal to the hiring manager. Work in food services? Consider a barista course. Or, if you're working in logistics, you could get a heavy vehicle license.

An apprenticeship could be right for those looking for a career change.

7. Keep applying

The most important thing to do is keep applying for jobs. Always read the job description and make changes to your cover letter and resume to focus on the must-have skills.

For example, if a company is looking for someone with good customer service skills, highlight this in your application.

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Every job application you submit is another chance to get hired. It can take time to get a position, but your persistence will pay off.

Don't be afraid to ask a friend to look over your application. If you don't make it to the final stage, the hiring manager may give you feedback. You can use this feedback to make improvements.

How to get through a job interview after being fired

If the hiring manager is happy with your resume, you'll need to go through an interview process. This is your opportunity to show the employer that you'd be a good fit for the company.

When you follow these tips, you can get through a job interview after being fired.

Dress to impress

Wearing the right attire to a job interview will help you make a good first impression. For most jobs, business casual will be the best choice.

For example, you can wear a collared shirt with pants or skirts and enclosed shoes. Never wear denim to a job interview, and avoid wearing sneakers.

If you're applying for a more formal position, consider wearing business professional attire, such as a suit and tie.

Make sure you’ve showered, and your hair is neat. You can read our business casual article for examples of what to wear.

Arrive on time

Always try to get to a job interview on time. Employers want team members who are punctual and reliable, so being late can be a red flag.

If you arrive more than ten minutes early, wait before you enter the building. If you have spare time, go for a walk, grab a coffee, or revise your interview questions.

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Be aware of your body language

Poor body language can give employers a bad first impression. For example, if you cross your arms or avoid eye contact, you’ll look nervous and uneasy.

Or, if you sit on the desk or hug the hiring manager, you’ll come across as impolite.

Body language can be subconscious, but you can show the hiring manager that you’re confident yet respectful when you're aware of your actions. Make eye contact and offer a firm handshake when you’re introduced.

How to answer “why were you fired?”

When you apply for a job, the hiring manager may ask you why you left your last job. You should always be honest because they could double-check. But, you only need to tell them the basics.

Remember, the interview is your chance to talk about your skills and experience. Explaining why you were fired is only one small piece of the puzzle.

Try to avoid using the word “fired.” Instead, try gentler alternatives such as let go, released, or dismissed.

If you’re asked this question, you can talk to the hiring manager about what you learned from the experience. And you can take responsibility for your actions without being negative.

Here’s an example answer:

“I took the job because I had moved to a new city and needed work. Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough research to learn about the company’s values. As someone who thrives in a team, the independent nature of the job wasn’t a good fit for me.

Now when I apply for jobs, I make sure the role is in a collaborative team environment. I read in the job description that you’re looking for a team player, which is something I’m passionate about.”

In the above example, we’ve briefly explained the situation and taken responsibility. And, we’ve shown the hiring manager that we understand what they’re looking for.

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Don’t forget: you should never badmouth your previous employer.

Where to find a job

If you’re ready to start your job search, you’ve come to the right place. You can visit the Jobcase job board for vacancies in your area.

Search by job title and zip code, or check out the most popular places to work.

Getting work when you were fired

People get fired for a lot of different reasons. While it may be upsetting, losing your job can be an opportunity for a fresh start.

To increase your chances of getting hired, you should update your resume. Make sure the information is current, and your contact details are up to date.

You can ask for references and expand your professional network. If your resume needs a boost, consider volunteering in the community or learning new skills. Be positive, and keep applying.

If you do get to the interview stage, choose smart business attire. Arrive on time, and be aware of your body language.

With these simple tips, you can put the past behind you and get hired.

Don’t forget; you can start your job search by browsing our job board. And you can find more articles like this one in our resource center.

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