Union Views: Laid off? Three answers you need to get straight

Being fired is stressful, but not necessarily the career kamikaze you might initially think.

Labour market studies show that almost half the workforce experiences a dismissal at some point during a career. This is not meant as a commiseration, but as a fact. If you are ‘a able to consider a dismissal a natural part of your career, you might find it easier to move

And when you start moving, you can be sure that future employers will ask questions. You have to get your exit story straight. Tell it in a manner that compromises neither you nor the truth. At a minimum, consider how to parry these three questions:

Why were you let go?
Tell the truth according to the facts you know.

It might be “My former boss and I had different views on how to unroll the business strategy,” or “I was let go due to a downsized budget.”

Be ready to tell the story succinctly in no more than two or three sentences. Be precise; otherwise, you signal that there is more to the story than you are telling.

Do you agree?
It is important that you respect your former employer’s decision to let you go and that you refrain from denigrating him or her. However, you can be loyal and disagree at the same time.

“I do not agree. I am a competent project manager, and I have repeatedly driven large projects with good results.”

Obviously, you need to back this up with facts. What did you achieve? What were the tangible results? Why was it a success?

What have you learned?
This last answer is important. Being fired can be traumatic. Identifying what you have learned shows that you have responded constructively and do not dwell on the past. Focus on a single key learning point.

“The dismissal increased my organisational understanding and strengthened my ability to support an environment where individuals work together to accomplish their goals efficiently.”

In short, when you articulate your dismissal, remember this: be precise, honest, loyal and forward-looking.