Hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go,” can be devastating. People are fired for many different reasons. But most of those reasons are not going to end your career.
In fact, nearly half of C-suite leaders (45 percent) faced at least one major blow-up in their career — like being fired — according to a 10-year CEO Genome study. Despite those failures, 78 percent of these executives eventually made it to the CEO role.
Regardless of whether you feel your termination is your fault, it’s always stressful entering the job search knowing you’ll have to explain what went wrong at your last job.
Not only can this pressure test your integrity during the interview process, the stress can also take a major hit to your confidence. For this reason, we pulled together four ways you can move on from being fired and take control of your medical sales job search to land your dream job:
Dig down to the root of the problem
The first step is to take a step back. Really evaluate why you were fired. Try to identify the underlying reason behind your actions that led to being let go. Were you not challenged in your role? Was the flexibility of the job too restrictive or maybe you need more structure? Why weren’t you the right fit for that company?
This is not a time to point fingers. This exercise is meant to help you understand whether there were external factors that contributed to you underperforming so you can avoid similar roles and toxic cultures, or where there are personal areas you need to work on.
Apply to roles that match your underused strengths
While you want to use this setback to find areas you can improve in yourself, you should also look for strengths that were underutilized in your last job. Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to identify what you did better than anyone else in your former medical sales role.
You also want to look at any reasons a hiring manager would not want to hire you, where there are opportunities for you to close skills gaps you have before applying to new roles, and whether there are any red flags in a company culture or working environment that would signal roles you should avoid.
Then, in your search for a new job, narrow your focus to the best fitting companies where your underused strengths match their needs and solve their problems. This helps keep attention on what you have to bring to their organization rather than on what took you away from another.
Be confident and transparent right upfront
It shouldn’t come as a shock that you’re going to be asked about why you left your last job, so you need to be prepared to explain it confidently and honestly. While it’s not likely a story you’d be proud to share with a potential hiring manager, honesty without hesitation is marginally better than skirting around the issue.
One way to show how you value transparency is to open up early in the interview. Typically, the hiring manager will start with a simple, “Tell me about your last role.” This is the perfect opportunity to introduce the topic on your own terms.
You don’t need to go on an elaborate defensive by sharing all of the details of what went wrong and why. And more importantly, you should not make excuses. In a sentence or two, share what happened, take responsibility for it, and move on.
If the interviewer follows up with questions, it’s important to answer them as clear and concise as possible. But you can also use it as an opportunity to pivot the conversation to what you gained from the experience.
Share why you’re a better sales rep as a result
Regardless of who brought up your previous termination, once you’ve explained what happened, it’s crucial to discuss what you learned. Share how the experience caused you to grow and how it will guide your decisions and actions moving forward. This is especially important if you can connect the learning experience to ways you’re even more qualified for this new role.
For example, let’s say you are tech savvy — to a fault — and had difficulty keeping organized because the company wasn’t keeping up with the latest technology. If that’s exactly the enthusiasm for tech trends this new company is looking for, be sure to share those details with your interviewer.
Even though it didn’t work out at your last company, that experience brought you to this place in your career. So, once you’ve addressed the elephant in the room, move on to why you’re excited to be where you are now and keep the conversation pointed toward a positive future.