Advice on How to Get a Job after Being Fired For Poor Performance

The Prepared Resume - Advice on How to Get a Job after Being Fired For Poor Performance

How do you get a job after being fired for poor performance? That's a tough question to answer. Getting fired from a job can be frustrating and incite desperation. Not only is it stressful, but it is also an embarrassing experience. I mean, who wants to get fired from a job for poor performance? I know I wouldn't.

Many people who are fired for this reason tend to feel like a failure regardless of the exact reason why they were terminated. Not only can someone feel like they have failed themselves, many employees jump to the extreme conclusion of hopelessness and fear they will never get hired again for any other job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20 million employees get fired every year in the United States. Let that sink in. 20 million people get fired every year. Contrast that with the data that around 40.1 million people quit their jobs. The number of people getting fired is way less than the number of people leaving their jobs.

Hundreds of people are literally fired every day by their companies but that does not have to affect their potential to get another job. After all, everything depends on your skills, experience and ability to properly communicate that to prospective companies.

If you have poor work history that contains multiple terminations, it is going to be challenging to get another job but certainly not impossible. And that directly corresponds to our topic today: how to get a job after being fired for poor performance.

Will Getting Fired Affect Future Job Applications?

Imagine your employer has recently terminated you for poor performance. When you apply for another job, the HR department may check employment background by calling previous employers or references. When they contact your previous company, the chances are that your old employer will inform them that they fired you for poor performance.

That's not exactly what you want a prospective employer to hear about your history. But you can most certainly be straightforward about your history yet smart at the same time. Some organizations consider the word “terminated” as being fired. However, others consider a “termination” as resignation. It may not be in your best interests to literally communicate you were fired for poor performance. You have to be the one to tell the truth and take ownership for anything in your career journey.

Just to be clear, I am most certainly not suggesting you lie or be deceptive. I am simply pointing out different companies simply define scenarios differently. Do with that information what you may.

It will ultimately depend how your prospective employer or HR department sees your past exits from a company. So can getting fired affect future job applications? It absolutely can.

Tips on Improving Your Resume to Counteract Your Past History

There are actions you can take to improve your resume after you've been fired for poor performance. One such action is to optimize your resume in response to past circumstances.

What if you've been fired but yet you believe your skills are reasonable and you can make any necessary changes so it doesn't happen again? Well, you can optimize your resume to deal with the matter .

Remember, not meeting the performance expectations of your previous boss does not necessarily mean that you have mediocre skills. On the other hand, if your employer has fired you for something within your control, it's time for gut-check while you soul searchingly look in the mirror to take ownership and figure how what you need to change about yourself.

Reword Your Resume Carefully

All employees worry about what to write on their resumes after getting fired by their employers. I know I would if I was in that scenario. I'd be terrified to say the wrong thing.

When you are optimizing your resume you can carefully reword it if necessary. You do not need to mention your termination in your resume. If you are adding that specific company that fired you under your most recent job experience, add your dates of employment and write amazing bullet points showcasing what you accomplished during your tenure. Learn how to write your perfect bullet points right here.

Your resume is typically the first step to get selected for an interview. During the interview, a question will most likely come up around current employment status. If it does not get asked, you are under no obligation to inform an interview of t that information.

Stay Honest and Truthful

If you were fired from a job for poor performance and if it somehow comes up during an interview process, the last thing you want to do is to lie. That is information you do not have to volunteer up to most interviewers but it is important to be honest and truthful when asked direct questions.

If you are asked a direct question, answer it truthfully. It can be scary to be interviewed and to have to answer a question that shows you have had negative performance in your career. After all, you want to be attractive to prospective companies and not seen as a risk.

Again, many people have been fired so if you do end up telling a recruiter about your past history it's not like they haven't heard it before. They've probably hired someone who has even been fired for poor performance!

What to Say When Asked About Your Previous Job?

It can clearly be difficult to figure out what to say when asked about your previous job and experience. The unfortunate truth is that people do lie and are deceptive. Some take no ownership whatsoever and blame an entire situation on the previous employer when that is not accurate.

When you are asked about your previous job allow me to provide some details on how you can possibly respond.

During the Interview

It is whole lot easier to discuss a termination during your job interview in a conversation that it is to have to explain a red flag on your resume or job application. So the first tip is to have a conversation first when addressing this topic.

And when asked direct questions, keep your answers short and concise. When you answer, get to the point as it shows your professionalism because you are willing to have a factual conversation. But more importantly do not get wordy and try to explain every single detail and justify every action taking by all involved parties. Remember, only give details if they are needed and will be helpful to the employer.

As you answer questions around a performance based termination, don't be dishonest. Here are a few examples of being concise and honest during an interview conversation:

Example 1:

I have learned a lot from being let go. I have had the opportunity to improve my own skills and shore up any deficiencies that needed to be addressed. As you can see on my resume that I have demonstrated success in the areas you require. And I can commit to putting in the work necessary to be successful in this company and in this role.

There are various reasons why this response works. This response is based in humility by directly answering a question by dealing with the problem positively and allows you to articulate that the previous termination does not apply to how you will perform in this future role. This response also does not dismiss the question. (This is not a politician type answer.) This response also is good because it shows you can receive feedback and apply a fix and address it.

Example 2:

Unfortunately, my previous company did terminate me for poor performance. After my termination, I have worked hard to improve the areas the previous company identified. I have clearly been diligent to my own personal improvement and I am confident that I will meet your company’s performance expectations. I have worked diligently to prepare for this job opportunity and I can confidently can say I can be fully successful in this role in this company. .

This second example also works because it focuses on 2 key areas: ownership, correction, and confidence. This response is not cocky. It does not demean the previous company. As a matter of fact, the reply implies they were justified and that you agree with them. It does this while showing you are committed to personal growth and that you know you can deliver results if they hire you.


Getting fired is tough. Getting fired for poor performance is even tougher.

Conversely, getting a job after being fired is daunting. Getting a job after bein fired for poor performance can feel even more daunting.

But relax and be honest. Put in the work for any corrective measures you need to take. And consider what is the most important aspect here: take ownership for any mistakes! Own up to it and realize that you have the ability to fix anything that is wrong with why you were terminated.

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