Aaron Engelsrud

Aaron Engelsrud

Action 7: Overcome Your Past

This is an important topic and will require a more thought, but for now, let’s focus on two general areas of focus. First, let’s look at a situation where you were fired. You didn’t get laid-off, and the company didn’t close. You either weren’t performing to the level your company required or did something egregious that caused them to let you go. Maybe you’d been on a performance improvement plan (PIP) for a while and could see it coming. Perhaps you thought you could continue to come in late every day without any consequences, right up until you couldn’t.

Either way, you have an issue to deal with.

Why? Because when you get back in the job market and start looking for new employment, companies you interview with will ask why you left your last company. You need to be ready to talk about it and provide an explanation. Here’s the truth, any good HR rep or hiring manager will be able to read through whatever story you tell them, and they will know you got fired. They will also know you are not being honest with them. Further, you will not get the job.

So, what do you do? You need to be honest and lay it out there. That’s the only option. Tell them what happened and what the outcome was. Let them know that you’ve learned from your mistakes and are looking for an opportunity to prove yourself. Be humble and open. This is the only way to deal with this situation. Lying will catch up with you. Ignoring it will allow others to fill in the blanks. Meet it head-on and deal with it.

The second issue you may need to deal with is your online persona. Have you ever done a Google search for your name? Is everything that shows up accurate? Anything that you’re not so proud of? Social media is your face online. If you have a social media presence, you need to make sure that the image you are putting forward is the one that you want prospective employers to see. I have seen numerous examples where qualified, educated, and high-quality applicants have been ruled out simply because of their online history. Many HR departments have tools that help them uncover your online life; it’s become that important. Think you’re anonymous? You’re not. This can be fixed - to some extent.

Remember, the internet never truly forgets.

You can delete posts that you’ve authored and, in some cases, comments you’ve made. It may be necessary to nuke your entire profile if your content is particularly unfavorable. This will not completely erase your online visibility, but doing so can make the harmful content harder to track down. Is it worth starting over online? Maybe. That’s for you to decide. Just realize they are looking, and it does matter. How bad do you want that new job? What are you willing to do to repair your past?

If you choose to do nothing to fix your online presence, like getting fired, be ready to deal with it. Here too, be honest and open. Don’t attempt to justify your bad online behavior. Instead, look to grow from it and be a better version of yourself. Ask for an opportunity to show them firsthand that you are not the person they see reflected in your online history. Then prove it.