We’ve heard from lots of people over on our “How to explain being fired” article. Many folks were fired because of their own mistakes, and in those cases there is a clear strategy for talking about termination that can still appeal to potential employers. But there’s one group of people who really wind up awkward creek without a paddle in interviews, and it’s not who you might expect:
The people who waited too long to quit.
These employees stayed through bad managers who were sabotaging their performance, hostile work environments or callous coworkers that Human Resources ignored. These are the loyal workers that companies really want, but because they were terminated under bad circumstances beyond their control they were left without a good explanation that doesn’t badmouth their last employer (a major interview no no) and no one to give them a positive reference. Not only that, but they have to worry about what their last boss is telling potential employers who call to check work history.
So what’s a dedicated employee to do?
Know when to start looking for a new job.
If you’re dealing with a difficult situation or coworker that is affecting your ability to do your job (or making it appear as though you are not doing your job) you need to take action. Either start looking for a new job right away, or follow steps to improve things at work. Whatever you do, don’t quit your job before you have a new one (unless your safety is at risk or you are otherwise in a situation where unemployment is truly better than remaining at work).
What to do if you want to stay at your current job:
- Report the issue to Human Resources (or to the person who is senior level and above the issue)
- If the situation doesn’t improve, report it a second time
- If things still haven’t improved, begin looking for another job
Even if you really like some aspects of your job, if you reach #5, it’s time to start looking. Looking before you’re let go has some serious advantages:
Why you should find a job before you’re fired:
- You still have a paycheck coming in
- You don’t have to worry about potential employers asking your boss why you were fired
- You won’t have a termination on your work history that you’ll have to explain in interviews for years to come
- You still have access to people who can provide references (and NOW is the time to ask those nice coworkers and supervisors if you might be able to use them as a reference in the future and get their contact information – don’t wait until you’ve been let go and it’s hard to get ahold of them)
Being a loyal employee is admirable, but don’t stay in a bad situation at your own expense. Get out while the getting’s good, and move on to a healthier workplace.
*Photo Credit fuzzcat