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Joe Szynkowski: How to apply for a job after you’ve been fired

Joe Szynkowski: How to apply for a job after you’ve been fired

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Thanks to sunshine, flowers and warmer weather, the month of May is about new beginnings. And for many job seekers, now is the perfect time to bounce back from a difficult situation that may have happened with their last employer.

That’s why I’ve decided to devote all of my May columns to helping people through these types of situations. Last week, we covered the common scenario of finding ourselves stuck in the moral dilemma of reporting something unseemly at work.

But what happens if you do decide to report the incident, conversation or shady business practice, and your boss fires you? It happens. I’ve seen it.

Fortunately, there is a playbook for marketing yourself to new companies after a bad breakup with a former employer.

Take a Breath

Leaving a company is tough, especially if there are difficult circumstances at play. One of the best things to do if you find yourself in this type of situation is to assess your setting and avoid making emotional decisions.

Some scorned employees take immediately to social media to update their networks, usually resulting in dramatic threads that may paint the company or its leadership team in a negative light. This is never a good idea.

As a professional, you have a reputation to uphold. It’s completely normal to have an emotional tie to your work. But airing out your dirty laundry for other potential local employers and decision-makers will do nothing to enrich the next steps of your career.

Consider Your Options

You may have heard the term “wrongful termination.” There are specific types of termination considered “wrongful,” and these may include violation of antidiscrimination laws, violation of whistleblower laws or breach of contract.

If your termination was not the result of a legal or contractual violation, then you are likely employed at-will. For more information about at-will employment and wrongful termination, it’s smart to check with a local attorney who specializes in employment law.

Depending on your situation, an attorney will be able to walk you through different options to consider.

Prepare a Talk Track

Once you are emotionally and legally ready to hit the job market, it’s important to update your personal marketing materials – your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile – to reflect your change in employment.

It’s also critical that you prepare a talk track for the question that will inevitably surface in your job interviews: Why did you leave your last position?

As someone who has interviewed multiple job candidates, this question holds a lot of weight for me. I’m always interested to see how a prospect handles the challenge of explaining a position that didn’t work out positively for them. 

It’s in your best interest to avoid engaging in any type of negative conversation regarding past employers, as you may be judged as someone who can’t collaborate well with others. Don’t be afraid to be honest, but do so in a way that paints you as a team player who simply didn’t fit with the employer’s culture. 

Stay Confident

Being fired can be crushing. I’m not debating that. But if you stay confident and trust that there is light at the end of the tunnel, you can use every part of your experience to advance your career – even the negative parts.

Want proof? 

According to a report published by, a 10-year study found that 91 percent of people who were fired ended up finding a new position that was as good or better than their last.

It turns out, getting fired isn’t a career killer. And if you take the steps outlined above, you can expect to bounce back in a big way.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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