Here’s Why I Love Hiring People Who Have Been Fired Before

Their are few truisms I know in HR.

  1. As soon as you think you’ll never be surprised again by something dumb done by an employee – you’ll be surprised.
  2. You’ll be asked every year in HR to reduce your budget.
  3. Employees will always believe HR knows more than HR really does know.
  4. HR vendors always say they’re giving you their “lowest” price, until you say “no.” Then a magical new lower price will come up.
  5. Many employees who get fired were at one time really good employees.

The last one is one I really love! It is a simple fact of life that most people will at some point in their life be fired from a job.

The 5 stages of getting fired

It might be their fault, or not, but either way, it’s not uncommon. Here’s what happens to most people when they get fired — it’s like the five (5) stages of grieving :

  • You’re shocked – even when you know it’s coming;
  • You’re pissed – how could you do this to me?;
  • You’re sad – what am I going to do?;
  • You’re anxious – I’ve got to get something, now!; and,
  • You’re determined – I’ll show you!

It doesn’t happen in this exact way for every person, but for many, the flow is about the same.

What you find is that someone who has been fired from a job comes with this cool little chip on their shoulder when you hire them. It’s this deep down fire to show you and everyone else they know that the person who was fired isn’t who they truly are – they are more than that person.

Fired people have extra motivation to do well

This motivation is great! It’s a completely different motivation than you get when you hire an employee who is currently employed and doesn’t really need your job.

I want people with some “want” in them, some hunger, who maybe are a little pissed off with a chip on their shoulder! This edge, and memory of being fired, can carry people to great performance for years!

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In our organizations we fire so many people who use to be great, and for a number or reasons, you now believe they are crap. And for you, they truly might be performing like crap – but for me they might be willing to be great again!

We had a saying when I was in HR at Applebee’s, while doing calibration of our teams: “If you talk about someone for more than 10 minutes they turn into a piece of crap.” It doesn’t matter who you are talking about, from our best to our worst employee, but the longer you talk about them, the worse you start to view them. This happens because it’s in our nature to focus on their opportunities, not their strengths, so the longer you talk the more you talk about what they can’t do, not what they can do.

So, there you have it – send me your crap employees. I’ll love them!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


3 Comments on “Here’s Why I Love Hiring People Who Have Been Fired Before

  1. I have a question should you list all companies you worked for on your resume? I was working for a large company and they laid off 35 employees. I than went to work for a company and was fired due to starting a networking group so I would have businesses to talk about our product and services too- I brought 80 businesses to a car dealership and chamber members. They loved what I did and we even sold a truck. My role was business development so networking I did. The GM thought I started my own company and I told him I started a networking group that meets at lunch time and he fired me 3 days later. So I went to work for my dad who owns a company. I am showing that I worked for my dad the whole time and decided to not put the 6 months on the resume. What do you think? If a business calls for a reference he will say yes she has worked here. I was a leader at my previous job and #1 in the company for sales. I was shocked when they fired me. I thought for sure they would give me a promotion for bring businesses into the dealership but instead I was fired! I even had a few chamber members write about the event I had and all of them said Michelle we would have never done business with the car dealership if it wasn’t for you networking. One of the chamber members even called the corp. office to say that I should not have been fired but they didn’t care. The GM even left the dealership when 80 people showed up! I was
    so stunned and so were the chamber members and the president! I didn’t have a job so after 20 years of selling in telecom and the past 10 years in Media advertising I went to work for a car dealership. I will never work in a dealership again but than perhaps with the right GM that values word of mouth advertising and also networking groups.

  2. Ummm this article wasnt pretty fun and it seems like from your point of view that you all and you’re putting all HR into this category, as a negative group of people looking out to find flaws and look for policies to take down employees. I’ve known a couple of HR managers that really do try to help employees and try to build the organization up by finding out the problems and finding a way to fix it rather that looking at employees as collateral and finding the first thing to knock them down and discuss it over lunch with the rest of their HR buddies. This article is one-sided and you really picture HR in a negative light.

  3. (sarcastic) Truism #6: A fired employee is always wrong. A manager will never fire somebody without good reason. How dare anybody have facts that make a manager or HR look bad!
    (sarcastic) Truism #7: There is no need to look into the background of the firing manager. He always acts ethically and with superior managerial skill.
    (sarcastic) Truism #8: HR keeps up on truthful and informative commentary to continuously improve the “on-boarding” process.
    (sarcastic) Truism #9: HR wants nothing more than for EVERYBODY to have a rewarding career and for their respective companies to have a full complement of personnel.
    (sarcastic) Truism #10: Without HR, the world would fall apart. Do you think Jonas Salk invented the Polio vaccine without HR? Or would there be running water without HR? It was HR that invented the light bulb, put a man on the moon, and will eventually cure cancer. We are HR: worship us.

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