The fact that you were fired isn't the deal breaker — it's how you handle it that is.
Believe it or not, prospective employers don't look as negatively on candidates who have been fired from jobs as they do on candidates who have voluntarily quit jobs. This doesn't mean they look favorably on it either, so you shouldn't approach a resume or job interview without thinking about how you're going to handle the topic of getting fired if it arises. Seeing as hiring managers typically ask about your reasons for termination at all your previous positions, it's almost certainly going to come up.
How to handle being fired on your resume during the job search
As far as your resume is concerned, don't talk about being fired; there is no reason for you to do so. Your resume need only contain the start and end dates for the jobs you've held, without going into details as to why you left your former employer. Just focus on what you did during your time in the positions you held in the past, and how your skills and achievements will be useful in your future positions. There is no need to draw attention to having been fired until the hiring manager asks you about it.
How to handle being fired on your job application
Your job application, on the other hand, is going to ask you for a brief description of why you left your job. If you prefer, you can simply write "job ended," "laid off," or "terminated" on your job application. This is recommended since your goal with your application and resume is to get an interview. You have a much better chance of dealing with the issue in person than you do of dealing with it on paper.
Related: Words and Phrases to Remove From Your Resume Right Away
How to handle being fired in a job interview
It's during your job interview that you're going to have to face up to having been fired. The hiring manager will probably ask you for specifics about your termination, and if this happens, you cannot lie about the nature of the termination. You will want to offer an honest explanation — preferably without further prompting — and you will want to keep that explanation succinct and to the point.
If the reason had nothing to do with you (downsizing that resulted in layoffs), then this is a perfect explanation and requires no elaboration. However, if the layoff did have something to do with you personally, then you should make a positive statement. Don't deride your past employer; simply state what you learned and how you benefited from the negative experience and that you intend to turn it into a positive in the future. You should then press on to the next topic immediately, unless you are asked further questions. You don't want to put any more emphasis on this question than necessary.
Here's an example of what to say in a job interview:
"Being let go from that position was a blessing in disguise. I now have the opportunity to explore new opportunities that I'm passionate about and are better suited to my qualifications, including this position with your company."
As long as you keep your answer short and sweet, avoid using the word "fired," resist dwelling on the negatives, highlight the silver linings, and, most importantly, don't lie, you'll be great.
Remember, being fired is not a deal-breaker
A lot of candidates assume having been fired is a deal-breaker for a hiring manager, but it isn't necessarily the case. How you handle what happened is going to have an impact on how the hiring manager perceives you. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has negative experiences. Not everyone can turn them to their benefit however, and if an employer sees that you can, they will know you are adaptable and positive and will bring those qualities to the new workplace.
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