Getting fired is never easy. Many people will be terminated for one reason or another at some point in their career, however, I have noticed in speaking with a lot of the unemployed that they are confused about what constitutes a “lay off” versus a “termination.” Many job seekers are going into an interview saying they were terminated, when that is not actually the case.
In recent years, many people have been laid off due the the economy. Typically a lay off is something that happens when a company has to make cut backs for whatever reason.
The term termination is most often used to describe when someone has been terminated for cause. Being terminated for cause means that you did something that caused the company to have to terminate you.
Examples of reasons someone would be terminated for cause are as follows:
-Sharing trade secrets or confidential information
-Violating a company policy
-Constantly being late or missing too much work
-Making too many mistakes
A lay off often happens because:
-A company is cutting staff
-A company is relocating
-A company is restructuring
It is important to be clear whether you were laid off or terminated. Even if you were terminated, I would not recommend using the word “termination” to describe your reason for leaving, such as saying “I was terminated.” The word termination has a very negative connotation in our culture.
An employer will never say you were terminated either. They can only confirm your dates of hire, salary and in some cases, whether or not you are eligible for rehire.
If you were terminated and have to explain why you left your last position, you might want to try saying that “You came to a mutual decision that it was not the right fit,” or something similar that conveys that you and the company came to a decision for you to part ways.
Being asked directly if you were terminated, is very different then being asked why you left your last position. If you are asked directly on an application or by an employer whether or not you ever have been terminated, you have to be 100% honest at all times and state yes, if you have been terminated.
Whether you were “laid off” or “terminated,” you always want to be sure to use the GOOD-BAD-GOOD method in explaining why you left your last position.
Always start with the GOOD, why you originally accepted the position and why you stayed there as long as you did, then lightly touch on the BAD, why the lay off or termination happened, and finally follow up with the GOOD, what you intend to create out of leaving your most recent position, ie. what is next for you.
Stay away from saying things like “it was not my choice,” “it was unfair” etc… Instead, look at how you can find the positive in all of this and convey your positive attitude in the interview regardless of your circumstances.