Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fired for Making a Flip Comment

I received the following question via email:

I was recently (1/20/14) fired from my job due to a post I made on a friend's Facebook page. I loved my job of eight years and the shock of losing it is still with me. I tried to explain to my employer that my comment was not an attack but only a flip comment and I did not mention the employer name. I have had two other job terminations in my past 30 year work history (1988--7 years of employment and 2005--4 months of employment). I am struggling how to explain the three terminations. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

I am so sorry to hear you were fired from your job.  I know it is a tough lesson to learn, but you have to be careful with what you post on Facebook.  I've written about this before see: being terminated for a Facebook post.

The best advice I can give you is to explain honestly why you were fired. Be prepared to talk about what you've learned from these experiences and how you've grown and changed.

Here are a few suggestions:

Take down your Facebook account. 
If you can't bring yourself to do that, at least remove all of your posts and unfriend everyone who is not in your immediate circles.  Do not post on anyone's page including your own until after you have a new job. Then be very careful what you write and who you friend. 

You will most likely be asked to explain what you wrote on that Facebook page.  Be honest and practice what you are going to say. Here is an example:

I wrote that my boss was a jerk. I didn't really mean that, I was anxious about an upcoming deadline and just letting off steam. I didn't realize what I wrote would be read by others.  I've since taken down my Facebook account and have begun working on more positive forms of stress reduction. 

Do not say even one bad thing about your former company or anyone who worked there:
I once interviewed a woman who had been down-sized or fired six times.  While asking about her experience, I decided by job number three I would never hire her (really it was after job one and by job three I was looking for a way to end the interview).  Every manager was incompetent and all of the companies were horrible places to work.  No they weren't, she was difficult.  Instead, discuss what you enjoyed about your former companies and jobs.

I'd consider leaving job #2 off your resume:
You only worked there 4 months.  If it isn't absolutely necessary, I would consider removing this job from your resume.  Though, this one should be an easy explanation; most likely it was a bad fit.

Explore the reasons behind your firings:
Are there patterns?  Usually if a person is fired multiple times there is a common element.  Review previous performance reviews.  Do you need to update your skills or do your soft skills need improvement? Take personal development classes or become a member of Toastmasters.  Talk about your new skills and what you are learning in your interviews.

See a therapist:
I know someone who grew up in an extremely abusive household.  He now has a job managing huge global projects and a staff.  In his first performance review he was told his staff found him difficult to work for.  A therapist has since helped him realize criticizing his employees today then acting like nothing has happened tomorrow (behavior he grew up with) was not acceptable. His therapist also told him if he didn't change he would lose his job. 

Tap into your network:
You need your network more than ever before.  Contact former co-workers and managers who no longer work at your former companies. You need someone who can vouch for you.  The employee fired for having a bad attitude in this post found employment at a former manager's new place of employment.   The pregnant employee fired for not passing the insurance exam in this post was rehired for a job she held in college.  She is back to where she started, underemployed and not using her degree, but she is employed.

Play up your positive work experiences:
I am assuming you've held other positions in addition to the three jobs you mention. Be sure to talk up those experiences.

Seek out temporary work:
I'm not sure how many temporary positions there are out there, but this used to be a great way to get into a company without having to interview.  The employer sees how great your work is and offers you a job. Apply at every temporary employment agency in your area.

Good luck to you.  The job market is still challenging and three firings are going to make it more difficult. Don't be afraid to volunteer or to work at an interim job until you find something in your field.

Do any of you have additional suggestions to help this reader explain her terminations?


  1. I keep seeing this on various news stations. I also saw that potential employers are basing some of their hiring decisions based on your facebook wall! Shocking, I know. I think we feel as though facebook is private, and that there are private conversations, but it is so public. I agree with whomever mentioned that being honest is important. I would imagine a potential employer would understand that you were frustrated and blowing off steam, but that you regret your choice to put it on facebook and have learned from it, etc. Know what else is shocking, ever google yourself? Wow! Stopping by from the Sunday Linky!!

  2. Wow, this is very scary. As I was reading this post, it made me think back to my facebook posts. Luckily, I don't much post on Facebook - personally. As for my blog, that's me. So if they don't like it - it wouldn't work out anyway :).

    Thanks for this thoughtful post!

  3. Even though I am self employed, I too have to be careful about what I say. I said something the other day and decided to delete the post. I try not to talk about race and politics but sometimes I really have to think about what I'm posting. Thanks for the article.

  4. I definitely agree. I'm not sure how to explain away the firings, but the fact that it happened over a Facebook post is a clear warning. I keep my FB settings very tight and I do not allow friends from work to join my Facebook page, other than two trusted friends I know more in a social than business sense. And I NEVER mention the name of my employer online. They are a very famous financial company and I do not need to be on their radar. It can take such a little remark to create a large problem as you've learned to your sorrow.

  5. What an unfortunate situation. I don't use my personal Facebook page much anymore and I avoid saying anything negative about work. I don't know the details but it sure sounds drastic to get fired without having a chance to explain. Thanks for sharing with #SmallVictoriesSunday #linky

  6. Oh wow Savvy, that was a regrettable situation but you gave some sound advice. Last year I begrudgingly made a personal facebook account for family and friends but I never really use it.

  7. Thank you for your advice here. I am at the end of a two month unpaid suspension for a comment I made on Facebook about an incident that occurred at work. There was no mention of the employers name and all of our (4 of us were suspended) profiles were set to private. After 2 months with no salary or health insurance for my family I've learned a hard lesson. Luckily I didn't lose my job completely but I am looking for another job as the whole thing has just left a terrible taste in my mouth for the agency where I work. Now that I am blogging I am also a bit more careful about my language and avoid posting anything controversial like politics or religion. As a blogger I want brands to want to work with me.

  8. i've been reprimanded before for publicly making snide comments about my company so i've definitely learned my lesson. DON'T DO WHAT I DID. whatever you do, do not ever speak negatively about your current company. EVER. unless you are looking to be fired.

  9. You gave the writer some solid, stable advice, Savvy. It's such a fine line between appropriate and offensive these days - you never know how someone will perceive your comments or posts. I tend to err on the side of caution - I was a much bigger fan of Facebook back when the only things people posted were pictures of their dinners! HAHA

  10. This is one of the many reasons that I no longer have a Facebook account. All it did was cause me grief. I've always been a bit torn on this issue. On one hand Facebook is part of your private, personal life but on the other comments you make on Facebook can reflect on where you work, charities you support, etc. It's a fine line to walk and I was really good at falling off the line so I just inactivated the darn thing.

  11. Social media is such an important aspect of networking, but you have to be very careful how you use it.

  12. Mama Banana,
    Thanks for your suggestions. The problem with FB is people share your stuff on their sites and it is no longer private.

  13. Lisa,
    I rarely post on Facebook either. Something about FB creeps me out, not sure what since I spend most of my life blogging and commenting on other blogs.

  14. Sheila,
    So true. It is so easy to offend someone these days and if we are trying to attract brands we have to stay non-controversial. This is exactly why our companies monitor what we are writing on social media- they are monitoring their brand.

  15. This is sad to see. I am constantly telling the 16 y/o your Facebook while set to private is OUT THERE!!! Be careful with what you write as a college is looking, I am looking and your grandma is looking... Urgh!

    My piece of advice keep Facebook personal. Don't friend your boss, co-workers or anyone you do or did work with. Share with friends only, who you DON'T work with.Good luck in finding a new job.

  16. She probably needs to cancel her current FB page and reinvent her image with a new one, if she feels she needs a FB presence at all. I have one but I rarely use it. You provided great advice.

  17. This is a very helpful post. I see this becoming more of an issue in the recent years, so much so that I have advised our HR Department to conduct a Social Media and Work Ethics session.

    My number one rule is to not include any co-workers in your social media accounts. You see them everyday, so if you need to 'socialize', then approach them. No need to use the internet for that.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    Cara of Stylish+Geek