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Leaving a job can be extremely stressful, even if you are happy to move on to a greener pasture. Losing a job unexpectedly for business reasons like a reduction in force, plant closing, or the loss of a big client, still comes as a shock and brings on stress. Being terminated for “cause” or job performance is devastating. Emotionally and physically, you feel real pain and stress.

How do you best move forward and jump into a job search? How do you put on a positive face when you are angry and resentful? How do you explain this to your family, friends, neighbors, and in interviews?

Don’t be a victim.

Sometimes the company was terrible or your boss was a bona fide bully. Maybe your training was inadequate or you found yourself in the middle of office politics. Perhaps you were a scapegoat for some failure in the company; sometimes it just wasn’t fair. It can be easy to feel like a victim. The problem is that being a victim in an interview doesn’t work. People want to work with positive people who don’t play the blame game, people who take ownership of their careers and present themselves as confident. You generally can’t adequately explain how this all happened without throwing up all kinds of red flags.

Seek to understand.

Mourn this loss for a few days and acknowledge the hurt. Then start to put together a plan. First, try to understand from the employer’s perspective why you were terminated. Were there performance issues? If so, were you in a job that truly didn’t leverage your strengths? Are you a people person doing spreadsheet analysis? Was this a pure business decision?

Reframe the story.

If you hated going into work and felt stressed, perhaps the job wasn’t a good fit for you. Is this an opportunity to find a role where you can shine? The more you tell yourself why this did make sense, the better you will be able to discuss it with others confidently. Practice how you will talk about your termination with a friend or use a video platform to see how you can refine your story.

Write your script.

Why did you leave your last company?
I’m a (sales) professional and I had a great run at [Company X]. Recently, they decided to change their strategy from [abc] to [xyz]. My specialty and interests are in [abc], and we decided it was best to part ways. I understand their shift and am excited to find a role where I can leverage my strengths in [abc]. I’m confident I can contribute to your company in this role in three key ways:

  1. I am…
  2. I bring…
  3. I have…

Keep your eye on the prize.

As difficult as job loss is, it’s imperative that you envision a silver lining. If you can see it, you can talk about it with authenticity. If you remain positive during the job search, you are more likely to get interviews and have a successful outcome. Your goal is to get that next great job at a company with a culture that you love. People want to work with positive people. Reconcile with the past, so you can move forward.

If you need help developing your reason-for-leaving script or an elevator pitch, consider working with a career coach, who can help you tailor it to your situation. Reach out to Purple Ink, or to me directly, for more information on our career coaching services.

Peggy Hogan
Peggy Hogan
Peggy is the Manager of Career Coaching Services at Purple Ink. Peggy enjoys connecting the right person to the right place, whether she’s career coaching, recruiting or working on-site with a client. She is motivated to help create positive workspaces by offering creative solutions to problems in the workplace, resulting in reduced turnover, higher employee engagement and increased productivity.

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