Fired for performance? Why you should feel more confident than ever about career success

05 Oct, 2017
Fired for performance? Why you should feel more confident than ever about career success

Being let go is never fun. Whether you didn’t see eye to eye with your boss or the cord was cut after a performance improvement plan ran its course, being told you’re no longer needed can slash your confidence, especially when thinking about how you’re going to explain the separation during job interviews.

While it can be jarring, termination can be just what you needed to discover career success.
Chances are if you were under-performing you most likely lacked the motivation and ability to improve according to your manager’s style or standards. And if you didn’t get on with your boss you may not have been a fit for the culture. At best you knew something wasn’t quite right and at worse you hated every minute of your job.
All too often people fear change more than misery or complacency and hang on to a job way longer than they know is good for them. Being let go is a gift that frees you from an unsuitable situation so you can move on to the right role or company.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 1 in 5 Australians separate from their employment each year. With greater than 12 million working Australians, you can bet thousands were dismissed for reasons similar to yours.

Rest assured, you’re all in good company.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper, being told he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” JK Rowling was fired from a role because she would write fiction on her computer all day. And Oprah Winfrey was fired as a news anchor because she couldn’t separate her emotions from her stories. Each of these legends turned their dismissals into opportunities to ignite their career potential and you can do the same.

Rakhi Pandit is an account manager with Ignite Canberra who has worked with thousands of candidates over her 13 years in recruitment. She believes there’s no shame in being terminated for performance or culture-fit reasons and says the experience can benefit you.

“Why do we think it’s OK when a candidate voluntarily leaves a job but have a different impression if the employer severs the relationship? Either way it wasn’t a fit,” she says. “Being terminated should never let you down. You are smarter for having the experience as you now know what doesn’t work and you’re a lot closer to finding a role that does.”

Pandit advises that before you start interviewing you should be clear about what you didn’t like about your role or the organisation so you can articulate what you do like. She says you should be clear about the skills and strengths you’d like to utilise, the passions you want to express and the culture and management style that’s right for you.

For example, you may have had a very strong and successful career as a marketing communications manager until you landed a role where a large part of your job was to create sophisticated Excel reports – something you neither had experience in or desire to do. You may have identified that you’d like to work in a larger organisation that has resources available to do the reporting so you can spend your time on what you do best – strategy and people management.

Pandit says she has seen dozens of people go on to very successful careers after they’ve been let go once they know what they’re good at and in what type of organisation they thrive.

“I hired an MIS Executive after she had recently been fired from another company because she couldn’t communicate well with customers. She was brilliant in our role – she rapidly moved up and was with the organisation for many years. The reality was that she was never meant to be taking calls from customers – she was an introvert and wanted to spend her time planning and managing IT projects,” she says. “If you’ve been terminated for performance issues don’t let it get you down – most people in the same situation land a much better role and end up grateful for being given the push they needed.”

Ready to ignite career potential after being fired? Ignite has hundreds of job openings throughout Australia. Explore here.