Having an explanation ready for any abrupt departure is vital
THE LATE Steve Jobs said that being fired from Apple in 1985 was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Of course, being rehired and going on to lead the firm to global dominance surely gave the episode a rosier tint by the time he said it in 2005. And it’s probably not how former Manchester United boss David Moyes feels right now, nor the 117,000 individuals made redundant from December to February in the UK. But the point stands – some bounce back from being sacked, often going on to great things. So how can you make sure that your unplanned career break looks more like Jobs’s and not like the dozens of now anonymous Apprentice contestants fired by Lord Sugar?
1 KEEP CALM AND NEGOTIATE
It’s tempting to start slinging mud when leaving a firm, particularly if the exit was acrimonious. But hold fire – not only is it possible that you’ll come across your ex-colleagues at some point, there are also severance negotiations to think about. Job search professionals say the trick for a better deal is sometimes to play on the employer’s guilt for letting you go, usually resulting in an increase in the number of month’s wages in the deal. Starting a war of words will ruin your chances of playing the guilt strategy, stopping you from getting the maximum period of financial security to figure out what to do next.
2 GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT
If you want to work again, it’s vital that you’re able to explain the terms of an abrupt departure. Talking to your old firm to agree on a mutually acceptable account will help (again, this will be much easier if you’re on reasonably good terms). But you’ll also need a reliable explanation that rolls off the tongue under pressure – looking uncomfortable when asked about a sacking will reinforce the idea that you’ve got something to hide. Careers writer Joyce Lain Kennedy has drawn up a list of model responses, many of which involve turning it into a positive learning experience – “after thinking about why I left, I realised I should have done some things differently. That job was a learning experience and I think I’m wiser now. I’d like the chance to prove that to you.” Kennedy also says it’s vital to make it brief, honest and to keep things moving in the interview.
3 STRUCTURE YOUR TIME
One of the sharpest contrasts between working life and unemployment is the lack of structure. Sudy Bharadwaj of Jackalope Jobs suggests the following steps to pick yourself up. First, evaluate – would you like to go back to the same sector? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Perhaps you need to develop a new skill (a language) to increase your chances of being hired. Next, update your CV and polish it off ready for applications. Finally, start networking and talking to human resources managers about potential job openings.
Prepare for an interview grilling
Being lost for words in a job interview is a surefire way to reduce your chances of being hired. Interview Questions comes with an enormous array of practice questions to make sure you’re ready for anything. Topics include work history, key skills, questions about the company you’re applying for and critical thinking tasks. Obviously there’s no way to replicate the nerves of being grilled by a potential employer, but this app can make sure your preparation has covered all the bases.