By Stephanie Clark
Many job hunters have an “Achilles’ heel,” a perceived obstacle that holds them back from feeling 100 per cent confident of their candidacy. For some it’s the lack of the identified degree or certificates; for others, it is their age (too young or too old); for another it is an eclectic or job-hopping history; and for many, simply a lack of confidence!
There are all-too-real obstacles that are difficult to overcome: termination for cause or a criminal record are examples. Those require the expertise of an experienced career coach or perhaps a specialized service that assists with a re-entry into society. But for most job applicants, these “perceived” obstacles can definitely be managed. Here are a few examples of interview scripts that can take the emphasis off a termination and place it where it belongs: on your value as an employee. The worst aspect of being let go is the almost inevitable loss of confidence. Refocus your attention from the reason of your termination to your skills, accomplishments, attributes—the value you offer your next employer—and you will soon be back at work.
Downsized, outsized or otherwise set free. If you’ve not been fired, but have had your position declared redundant, or you’ve fallen victim to the indulgences of new management that sees your style as incompatible with its vision, you can customize a version of the following speech. “In my last employment, I really enjoyed my job and worked with great people. However, with new management at ABC, who brought new ideas and vision for the business, I and a few other long-time employees found our positions declared unnecessary or our styles incompatible. However, I’m proud of my work while I was with ABC Corporation. I was a very effective supervisor: I eliminated several full-time positions by redistributing tasks; increased productivity by leveraging technology to shorten procedures; and saved the company over $200,000 in one year alone.” The idea is to provide a quick overview of the circumstances, and then transition to a place of strength by refocusing on your value as an employee.
Terminated. Now, this one depends on the why’s of the termination. Here’s a speech to customize if you were terminated without cause. “While at ABC Corporation, as Administrative Assistant to the Manager of Communications, I kept her up to date with reports, research, and replies. However, when my longtime manager left for another job, I found that the new manager and I didn’t get along. I did try, but ultimately was let go. Nonetheless, I value the five years I spent there. I learned a lot, taking courses in electronic filing, in business writing, conflict resolution; in fact, I have a full page of courses I participated in and applied in my work. Those applications resulted in great performance reviews, pay increases, added responsibilities like mentoring junior staff and more. My next employer is going to benefit from a very well qualified Administrative Assistant.” If you were terminated with cause, i.e. you deserved it, then you will have to admit to your fault, state that you’ve learned from it, and finish off by sharing how you positively impacted the bottom line. Ideally, to overcome this more serious challenge it is critical to network.