How to Address Being Fired When Applying to New Jobs


Getting fired isn’t the end of the world, so don’t treat it as such! After a termination, the best thing to do is get up and put yourself out there again to find a new job. You’re sure to find one eventually, and it’ll get your confidence back up!

Until then, there’s only one obstacle in your way: how do you address that you were fired without ruining your shot at a new job?

In the Application

There is no reason for you to talk about being fired on your resume, so don’t stress yourself out about it. In fact, there’s a large chance you won’t have to discuss being fired at all throughout the process. Like any other job you’ve had that’s come to an end, put the date you began the job to the date you left – simple! In fact, if you have enough work experience behind you, or if it’s unrelated to the next job you apply for, you don’t have to include the job you got fired from at all. Your next employer has no reason to know that it exists if it wasn’t a big deal in your career journey.

However, beyond your resume, some applications will request that you offer a brief description of why you left your job. You may be tempted to lie, but don’t do it – lies will always catch up with you at the worst times. You can be vague and say, “position ended” if you’d like, but it isn’t a dealbreaker to admit to being laid off – as long as you don’t use a negative word like “fired.”

In the Interview

Unfortunately, there’s a chance that your termination will come up no matter what you write in your application, and you need to be prepared. First off, keep calm about it – you aren’t the first person to get fired and you won’t be the last. Plus, it happens for plenty of reasons; employers are understanding of that, and it won’t be a dealbreaker if you’re a great candidate otherwise.

The key is to make sure you speak positively about the termination. Don’t say anything negative about your former workplace nor put the blame anywhere but yourself. The nicest way to go about it is to say that you weren’t a great fit for the position, but you can explain that you’re excited to pursue jobs that you might be a better fit for – for instance, the one you’re interviewing for right then! You can use this opportunity to tie what you like about this new opportunity into what wasn’t working about the last one.

If they ask for specifics, use the opportunity to share ways you’ve grown as an employee since you were laid off. Answer this question like you’d answer the classic “what is your biggest weakness?” question: explain your flaw, but then how you’ve worked to eliminate it. Be honest about why you got fired (but in the nicest way you can frame it!) and offer the steps you’ve taken to remedy the issue. Were you consistently missing deadlines? Say that you’ve since learned to better organize your time by keeping a daily schedule and checklist, a process which has ensured you’ve been making every deadline with the freelance work you’ve been doing since.

Most importantly, stay positive in your abilities. You’re more than just a one-time termination – being fired happens, so focus on the good you’ve done for the company and, of course, the good you’ll do moving forward in your career journey.

Want to make sure you land your next interview? Grab a Style Nine to Five Get Hired How-To Guide!

Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock