Ask LH: How Can I Find A Job After Being Fired?

Hey Lifehacker, I've just been notified that I've lost my job due to a client pulling the plug on a rather large deal, meaning my employer has no money. I'm at a loss at what to do, since I only have four months experience working in the IT industry. Any suggestions? Thanks, Career Crisis

Fired picture from Shutterstock

Dear CC,

In the hallowed words of Douglas Adams: "DON'T PANIC!" While it's never fun to have a job pulled out from under you, the best thing to do is take it on the chin and start looking for a new job immediately.

Assuming you weren't personally handling the client's account and caused them to bail through negligence, your termination had nothing to do with work performance. These things happen, and prospective employers will know this.

The fact that your stint at the company was short-lived shouldn't hurt your chances of landing another job too badly — four months of experience still beats zero experience. Presumably you were still in a junior position which means most other applicants will be similarly fresh-faced.

The first step is to update your resume, making sure to avoid the common mistakes and flaws that can trip applicants up. Our usual advice about tailoring your cover letter and CV for each job you apply for applies here too.

You can find plenty of in-depth tips on all aspects of job hunting via our Job Search, Resumes, Interviews and Career tags. We've included some useful posts below, but we're barely scraping the surface. You can uncover a stack of additional advice by perusing the above tags.

Above all, don't let early setbacks deter you and keep on trying! If any ex-job hunting readers have advice of their own, please let CC know in the comments section below. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    The way I got my head back into the game was (after addressing what lead to my firing)

    1. Understand that a job is a simple exchange of skills and time for money You have some skills and a little experience, and there are people who will pay you for them. You will get another job, it's just a matter of when, and how.

    2. Being unemployed is like anything else. It's 10% what's happened, and 90% how you deal with it... So... deal with it the absolute best way you can. That'll bring you confidence, and make you attractive to an employer.

    3. Use your new found free time to improve your skills. Any employer that sees you're the sort of person who gets go from fired -> accredited will be impressed as hell.

    4. Be social in your field. Where I'm from there are a few pub nights for IT/web people. It's a good chance to meet people in the industry, and if you have a good attitude they'll recommend you when jobs come up. Also again, potential employers love people who are interested enough in their job to get involved in this sort of thing.

      Good advice.

      I'll throw out a couple more tips...

      - Don't apply for any and all job adverts that you see. Please only apply to those that you're suitable for.

      - Be flexible in regards to salary. That doesn't mean that you have to accept the bare minimum, but remember that the MOST important thing for you to do is get "back in the game". What's the difference between $50,000 and $55,000 + Super (as an example). $5,000. Before tax. After tax - $70 a week? Something like that.

      Do you want to jeopardise your career for the sake of $70 per week in your back pocket?

      Maybe you do, and you're entitled to make that decision.

      Alternatively you could suck it up and resume building up your experience so that 2, 3, 5 years down the track you're in a stronger position to command the salary level / job type that you're looking for.

      At the same time, don't accept the first job for the sake of it. If it's extremely poor wages, or an extremely shoddy appearing company, perhaps it's best to let it go.

      - Be realistic. Take some time out and think about what you want. In regards to salary, job type, type of company, vertical industry, location etc etc. You've had a hiccup in your career. Completely normal, and a great opportunity to take a look at what's going on to figure our if your on the track that you want to be on.

    First off, you've not been fired. You've been made redundant. Or your temporary contract has expired. Or it was a casual position and the position is no longer available.

    Being fired means that the employer was unhappy with you, for whatever reason, and chose to end your employment.

    It may seem pedantic but informing potential employers that you were fired is likely to scare them, and potential employers can be awfully flighty - so you really ought not say you were fired unless that indeed was the case.

    Other than that the Lifehacker advice is spot on.

    The economy is such that it's normal for applicants to have multiple redundancies and is no longer considered a poor reflection on the applicant - several years ago many employers would consider it as such. Unless you're single handedly responsible for the global downturn. Well, are you?

    But yes, please do update your resume.

    So many applicants out there don't update their resume, because "it's only been a year and I haven't gotten round to it yet." Not going to impress the client. And no, it's not my job to butter up your resume to fill in the gaps that you were too lazy to complete yourself.

    If you don't update your resume you're doing yourself a disservice and are likely wasting someone's time, if not your own.

    Last edited 22/11/13 2:18 pm

      While on the subject of updating one's resume, don't just use the same resume for every position applied for. Have a main resume, but make a copy of that and edit it to suit each position as you apply for them. It may take a little longer than just writing a cover letter and sending them together, but it makes it easier for potential employers to narrow down the selection. The position description has everything you need to know about the position, so look out for keywords and phrases in there, and apply them to your resume. Also, don't lie. Employers are pretty good at spotting lies, and in the end you'll just end up wasting everyone's time if you land an interview.

      They use the term fired because its from there American site.
      I've found after a redundancy its easier to pickup another job because you left for reasons outside your control it's not like you quit or got sacked.

        Yeah, redundancy is completely normal nowadays.

        A lot of employers would previously be cautious of those that were made redundant. The employers would be questioning how valuable could the employee be if the company was prepared to let them go. Or even wondering if they were in effect fired/sacked.

        Nowadays employers can't take that view because pretty much everyone has been made redundant already.

        There's nothing wrong with resigning from a position - it's completely normal, but of course there should be legitimate reasons, and it shouldn't happen too often or the employer will view the applicant as being flighty.

    "Would you like fries with that"?

    "don't just use the same resume for every position applied for. Have a main resume, but make a copy of that and edit it to suit each position as you apply for them. It may take a little longer than just writing a cover letter and sending them together, but it makes it easier for potential employers to narrow down the selection."

    Just passing on my thoughts as a recruiter so that it may be helpful to some...

    I half agree, but mostly disagree with the above in quotes - essentially tailoring your resume.

    If you do that it won't hurt your application, and it might help your application, so it would be wrong of me to say it's not a good thing - it is a good thing - but I personally wouldn't recommend it as I feel that it's a little too demanding.

    As a recruiter, I don't need to see that you've tailored your resume for the role that you've applied for, in fact if I see that you've done that I'm likely to think it's a little odd.

    I'd much rather see that you've read the advert thoroughly, that you understand what the position is, and that you have an understanding of what the employer does (should that be disclosed in the advert).

    At the (recruiter) interview stage things are still pretty early on, so I don't need to see that you've analysed the employers last 30 years financial history, but I do want to know that this position isn't just one in a long list of jobs that you've sent your resume across to without reading the advert properly. Which frankly is probably one of the biggest problems in recruitment and is only getting worse. That and the high recruitment fees agencies charge etc - but that's out the applicants control. Am I on a tangent again?

    Tailoring your resume may help, but it won't be a decisive factor, so because of that I would suggest that your time is better spent reading adverts thoroughly and being selective about which types of roles you're applying for.

    In addition to that, you shouldn't really need to tailor your resume. In most cases (and I really do mean virtually all) you should be mostly interested in one type of position, not half a dozen.

    If you're applying to Accounts based roles, as well as Admin based roles, and Sales based roles, then you're doing something wrong. Figure out what you're looking for and stick with that. A Web Developer largely shouldn't be applying for a Help Desk position etc etc.

    And can we all stop playing the keywords and phrases game please. Just stick with the facts. If we all do that then we'll all get along just fine.

    "Also, don't lie. Employers are pretty good at spotting lies, and in the end you'll just end up wasting everyone's time if you land an interview."

    Yep.

    And please, if the recruiter is smart enough to catch you in a lie, don't get all shitty with them. You're the one that lied, remember.

    Last edited 22/11/13 3:30 pm

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