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Why You Shouldn’t Say You Were “Terminated” From A Job

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Why You Shouldn’t Say You Were “Terminated” From A Job

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If your position gets terminated, should you mention that in your next interview? Many job seekers face this dilemma in their job search when they’re newly unemployed. First, you need to determine what type of termination occurred.


There are two types of termination: voluntary and involuntary. If you quit, that’s called voluntary termination. If it’s involuntary termination, there are two types of that: you got fired or you got laid off. And those are also very different. Fired means you did something wrong and they couldn’t keep you. Laid off means you did nothing wrong. They were in financial trouble and they couldn’t keep you. So as you go down that decision tree, you’ll have to clarify what type of termination happened—what “terminated” means in your case.

Don’t Say You Were “Terminated.” Say This Instead…

My personal advice as a 20-year career coaching veteran is if you quit a job, make sure you tell the employer that information and explain why you quit. If you got fired from a job, you want to try to explain that as objectively as you can without making any excuses—owning your mistakes. And if you got laid off, tell them you got laid off. It was beyond your control.

I wouldn’t use the word “terminated” at all. Instead, I’d get very clear on what happened and I would use the “Experience + Learn = Grow” model to answer the “Why did you leave your job?” question in a way that’s very factual and succinct, that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and is structured.

That kind of structured response is the most important thing to do in this situation because it shows that you’ve really thought about what happened and want to make sure they properly understand.

This is how you score points in a job interview. I see people every single day who have been fired or laid off from jobs using the “Experience + Learn = Grow” model to answer difficult interview questions. And then the recruiter and hiring manager say, “Great answer,” and move on because these things happen. They’re out of our control sometimes, or they’re in our control and we learn from them.

You need a better response. So don’t use the word “terminated.” Get really clear and remember the “Experience + Learn = Grow” model. You can do this.

Good luck, and go get ’em!

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