I Only Want to Hire People Who Have Been Fired – and Have Something to Prove

I was once fired from a job.

I won’t go into the story because we all have a story and we all frame it to sound like a victim. In hindsight, many years removed, I would have fired me too!

After being fired I could only think about one thing. It consumed me. I wanted to show whomever I went to work for how great I really was.

I didn’t want the “fired” label to follow me, even for a minute. I wasn’t “that” person. I was better. I wanted …


Yes, redemption is the most powerful employee motivator of all time. Nothing else is even close.

It’s why I always laugh when a hiring manager tells me they will never hire someone who has been fired from a job. Really!?

I want people who have something to prove

I actually only want people who have been fired from jobs! I want people who have failed, and have a giant chip on their shoulder to show the world they are better than that.

I don’t want to hire crappy people who were fired because they actually have no skill and no personality. That’s the problem, right? We believe everyone who has been fired must be crappy.

Well, Tim, people don’t get fired if they’re good!” Really? You believe that?

Well, believe this: Good people get fired every day.

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They get fired for making bad decisions. They get fired for pissing off the wrong person. They get fired because they didn’t fit your culture. They get fired because of bad job fit.

Redemption sets people apart

Good people get fired, maybe as much as bad people get fired. Unfortunately, we lump all of them into the same pool.

Redemption sets the “good fires” apart from the “bad fires.”

You can hear redemption speak when interviewing a good fire. Bad fires don’t speak of redemption, they speak of justification.  Good fires want a second chance to show the world they are right. Bad fires want a second chance to show the world they were wronged. Those are two very different things!

I like redemption motivation. It sticks around for a long while. Those scars don’t go away easily.

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 “I Only Want to Hire People Who Have Been Fired – and Have Something to Prove

  1. Tim, I don’t necessarily agree on the ONLY hiring people whom have been
    fired. From experience, massive student loan debt can light a pretty big
    motivational fire under someone’s butt. But, I do like the perspective
    you share about some hires wanting to redeem themselves after being
    fired. Another thing to be aware of with people “fired for bad decision
    making” is ‘do they continuously make bad decisions?’ ‘how costly are
    these decisions?’ and ‘is this person’s decision making process

  2. Right out of college I went to work to a very large company hoping someday I would move into management. Two weeks later I was fired because I wasn’t learning the job fast enough. Seven years later I moved to another city and married and was doing temp work. I happened to be sent on a gig to this company. After a few weeks they wanted to hire me. I told them that I had previously worked for the company and had gotten fired. They didn’t care. They hired me anyway. The first time I worked for the company I was attempting to do work I wasn’t meant to do. As a temp I was doing work that I was very good doing. We all have different talents. We can work very hard at something but if we aren’t good at it things aren’t going to go well.

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