Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fired for Cause


I have a couple of issues, and a couple of questions, that are making my job hunt more complicated than it probably needs to be.

For starters, I was fired for cause from my last employer. It was partly for a policy violation and partly because my performance wasn't up to standards. How can I convince potential future employers to look past this black mark on my employment record; and that I'll be a better worker in spite of it?

Also, I hear the gospel of networking preached all the time; yet I'm only an entry level worker with just enough experience to kind of have my foot in the door - I have positive co-worker references, but I'm just not a very well-connected guy.

How can I get over this hurdle, and what are some good, practical ways for me to expand - or begin - my network of contacts? It doesn't help much that I tend to be "conversationally challenged."

Thanks -- "Jonah"

by Bridget Oakes, Senior Search Consultant

Well, no denying it, you’re in a tough spot. Being fired for cause is never going to be a highlight of your career, and without details of the “policy violation” in question, I can’t offer much on that front either.

Depending on your line of work, you may have some options to redeem yourself. If you are in a “contracting” friendly job, like engineering, IT, or even accounting, you could pursue contracting as a career option.

Why do I suggest this? Contracting offers the employer a chance to “try it before you buy it”. You would have the opportunity to prove your abilities, and you may find this is a good way to get your foot in the door; and you may meet some people that are well connected and can help build your network of contacts.

However, I have to be honest, depending on the nature of your dismissal from your previous employer, finding a contract staffing firm to represent you may be challenging as well.

The best option you’ve got is to be open and honest about the situation with any perspective employer, contracting agency, or anyone that assists in your job search.

The important thing is that you’ve learned something from the experience, and keep in mind that it’s early in your career and you have time to recover.

You’ve got a tough road ahead, and I wish you the best of luck!

Bridget Oakes is a Senior Search Consultant with Partners in Technology. With nearly 10 years experience in executive search and recruiting, she is well equipped to provide advice and guidance to candidates searching for new careers, and welcomes the opportunity to do so through Job Lounge.

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
Jonah, I know it feels lousy having been fired, but here’s some good news: you’re in good company. Take a look at You’re Fired! to see what famous people have been fired before going on to success.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email ( it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.


Simon Clay Michael said...

Bridget and Susan,
I wonder if this is an "opportunity" for Jonah to change the focus of his career.
Performance issues could suggest he was in an ill-fitting job, and needs to reassess his next move?

This could be a focus for his networking (help him with his "conversational challenges"), use the informational interview to help him clarify what he's good at, and also network with folks.

Susan Ireland said...

I like that perspective, Clay. You could be right that Jonah's firing is a sign that he's on the wrong career path. In that case, it could be counted as a blessing if he takes steps to find the right career where his performace will soar.