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Liz Ryan Contributor

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. full bio →

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com

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Leadership 4,197 views

How To Job-Hunt After Getting Fired

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You may think “The feeling is mutual, sweetheart” and be happy to be out of the bad work environment. When you apply for a new job, you can simply say that you left. I don’t want you lobbing resumes or applications into faceless Black Hole portals, anyway.

When you send a Pain Letter directly to your hiring manager, there is no mention of course of how or why you left your last employer.

The question “Why did you leave Acme Explosives?” may come up at a job interview. It probably will, and that’s good, because that’s just the kind of question employers should be asking. After all, your story is your brand.

meet liz ryan fired two point five times 001

“I had a great time learning for the first three years,” you will say, “and then it was time to go. I needed a bigger challenge.”

If you were in your job for a short time you can say “I misjudged that situation, honestly. I thought it was going to be a channel development job, but it was really straight selling and that’s not my strong suit. I’m more of a program manager and a long-term relationship builder, versus the kind of order-taker they needed at Acme.”

You are going to find in your job search that there is a huge difference between the organizations and people you feel comfortable with and the ones you don’t. As you trust your body more to send you signals it will oblige. You will leave some workplaces and think “That place is fun. I could learn something there.” You will leave other places and think “There isn’t enough  money in the world to get me to work there. Those people look like they’re in misery.”

Trust your body and trust the universe to get you into the right spot. For all intents and purposes in the 21st-century workplace, you get to decide whether you were fired or not. Maybe one day you will wear that distinction as a badge of honor, like I do. I’ve been fired two and a half times and those experiences helped to make me who am I today — whoever that is!

Getting fired is not bad for you. It might be the best thing that has ever happened for your career. When you get fired, you get shaken out of the stupor that most of us fall into all too easily. Whenever you grow new muscles, the universe and I will be here on the sidelines, cheering you on!


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