Fired :(
April 17, 2015 10:07 AM   Subscribe

So two jobs in a row I've gotten fired. My confidence is super low.

The first I am "rehirable" because at the time it was not a good fit. This one I haven't met yet with HR so I don't know what the outcome will be. The truth of the matter is that I am getting replaced by the department supervisors friend, so there are charges of not doing the work in a competent manner. These are jobs 1 and 2 after graduating and I am absolutely devastated because this job seemed so perfect. I say seemed because now I see that it was just "lipstick on a pig", and the supervisor was just a nicer version of the bitches at the first job. I.E. kept a tally of supposed wrong-doing, but never mentioned it, other than in brief, and with no follow up training or assistance, which was supposed to be part of hiring a new graduate.

I just don't know what to do now. I am so heavily in debt because of school and two big moves for these jobs, I have no savings and I am really worried I won't find another job. Or if I find one, it will be with a crappy organization.

Suggestions are appreciated.
posted by spacecowgirl to Work & Money (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, this is a bummer! But it's not the end of the world. In fact, this may be the best gift ever because both situations are opportunities to grow and figure out how to play the work game more effectively so this doesn't keep happening.

Can you elaborate on a few things? What sort of work do you do, and what specific reasons were provided when you were fired (if any)? Is this more of a personality conflict, or do your coworkers feel you're not doing your job? Are you making mistakes that shouldn't keep happening? Don't get trapped in a woe is me, I'm the victim mode right now -- this is a wake up call and even though it sucks you gotta sift through the shit to get to the stuff you need to pay attention to (aka what you need to own and fix on your end).
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

Sometimes, these things happen. From your description, neither of these was preventable, except in the sense that maybe you should have picked up on red flags at the interview. That is something you need to think about; what were the signs when you were interviewing that things were not going to go well?

You are still hire-able, but how much you will have to explain depends on how long you were there/seriousness of the complaints. Also, depending on your state, a former employer may not be able to say much about why they let you go. Also also, if your former employer already has a high churn rate of employees, then anybody else you interview with may already know that it's a terrible place to work and may not hold it against you.

You can also say, well, as a recent graduate, I am in the process of finding places that most need my skills. Recent grads have the advantage of being perceived as cheaper and more motivated than those who've been out there a while. That could easily outweigh any drama from your former jobs.

So first: you need a job. If you wanted, you could take a temp job just to pay bills. This would allow you not to have to move and to have time to look around/go on interviews/be more picky in the next job you go for. All you need for most temp jobs is reliability and basic computer skills. Depending on your field, you may even end up somewhere that offers you a permanent position that fits into your career plans. Temp companies generally don't care about you having been fired, just about whether you show up and have the skills they need.

I once had two terrible jobs in a row, where I quit only because I would otherwise be fired. In retrospect, I should have seen the signs during the interviews, and I've learned to turn down things that "smell" like those two jobs. Because I don't want to go through that again.
posted by emjaybee at 10:24 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I work as an ultrasound tech. Previous place (4 months) we did not get along, they didn't like an "outsider" coming on their turf, especially a newly graduated outsider. They also have a long series of people quitting because it was not a good work environment. My current position (1 month) my coworkers have no problems with me and, for the most part, we get along. I haven't yet met with HR to find out specifics, but as I understand it the supervisor is saying I am unable to do the job. She knows I am new at this, but offered no help or support. In fact, the concerns she brought up yesterday, which was when I found out about this, were things that were protocol, and vary widely from organization to organization. The few things that were wrong, I got no notice of and didn't realize I was doing it incorrectly. My accepting of the job was in large part because of their "committment" to educating staff in a timely manner if mistakes are made, which never happened with the items that were true concerns.

The supervisor agreed that most of this is because of lack of experience. I just wish she had bothered to help me before now. It just feels like a situation that was set up so the supes friend could move into this position.
posted by spacecowgirl at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2015

This article is about what to do if you are in danger of being fired, still has some good info that might be pertinent to your situation.

It would also be helpful to find out if you are eligible for unemployment, depends on how long you have been working there (here it's at least 3 months). Get a copy of their employee handbook, if you can, in case you decide to speak to a lawyer (such as if they try to deny you unemployment or give you a bad reference, etc.). It may not matter if you've only been there a short time.

Note in that article it says you are not required to go to an exit interview with HR, and it is not really for you, it is for the company.

The questions I would be asking are: did the supervisor follow company policy? Was she supposed to give you a verbal warning, then a written one, and make up a plan for improvement before taking action? Is there a history of high turnover in her department? I would also not sign anything that HR asked me to sign (indicating that you did something wrong, etc.).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2015 [11 favorites]

You're young and relatively inexperienced, which makes you extra-vulnerable to getting stuck in shitty work situations like the string of bad luck you're experiencing. Keep your chin up! You'll find something else soon.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:31 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Gotcha! One of the first things I do any time I start a new job, even if I think I know the protocol associated with my duties, is to ask directly for clarification on protocol expectations and standards. This way I don't go into situations assuming I know what I'm doing. I phrase it like I am competent and capable and I'm asking this because I want to get all my ducks in a row since I'm new to the work environment and want to align myself to their expectations. If I get a mentor or coworker who declines to offer input, I go to someone else, and I also make a point to carefully observe how others perform my tasks so I can ask informed questions along the way. This helps me take charge of a situation so I am not so passive that I never get the training I really need to do my job effectively.

Obviously it can be hard to do this if you're in a work culture where being asaertive is discouraged, but I think you're going to find that the more you ask outright for training rather than expecting to get it by default, the more you'll get what you need to move forward and keep your job.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

Another thing you can do moving forward is make sure that during your interviews you ask what training is like for employees like you who are recent graduates. You can ask if there are classes offered by the workplace that you can take in advance to get up to speed; that shows initiative and a willingness to learn.

The lesson I would advise you to consider here is that it pays to go after what you need rather than wait for it to come to you, and that while it definitely seems like you just got two toxic workplaces in a row, you still need to take ownership of your actions and your inaction in order to grow as an employee and as an adult. Good luck! You'll find a job that's the right fit soon.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

One other tip: if you aren't doing so already, asking for feedback daily or weekly from your supervisor during the first few weeks of a job is a great way to find out what you need to tweak so you're meeting expectations. You may already be doing this though and I underatand how infuriating it is to ask and not receive an answer because your supervisor is a snake!
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:41 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hermione Granger , I did review their protocols, and where they were set I used them. About half the exams they do have no set protocols, and so it was up to me to make sure I got everything. Ultrasound can be very nuanced, so little things like caliper placement or color scales can vary from place to place and there was nothing out there to let me know how they do it until someone says something. I know now this is could be a problem, but going into I had no idea.

The supe never outright declined to help, she was just never available. I asked coworkers when possible, but found out yesterday that I got marked for doing things I was told to do by long term employees. Much of the stuff was subjective, or based on her assumptions I did/didn't do something without her asking me, the reading doctor, or the coworker who helped me.
posted by spacecowgirl at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2015

Response by poster: I am meeting with HR in an hour. I am bringing my notepad, recording the conversation, and making sure I ask questions and try my best to negotiate at least a neutral reference. I am in a position that if they offer a severance package I am probably going to have to accept it, but if they don't, I am going to request to resign the position so it is not a termination on my record.
posted by spacecowgirl at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

You didn't ask specifically, but please note that job-related moving expenses are deductible from your taxes.
posted by Dragonness at 10:51 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Crap jobs happen, and statistically entry-level jobs are crappier to start with. You probably were set up, and there's nothing you can do to win in that situation (except hope your replacement is extremely shitty, but not in a way that harms a patient, just in ways that make all the staff miserable). It's my understanding that healthcare, in particular, can be especially insular and cliquey.

You just have to forge onward, and prepare yourself some questions to ask during the interview - either as they come up naturally in discussion or at the end when you are asked if you have any questions - that indicate you have some understanding of the things that can and did go wrong in your case. Things like, "What's your framework for supervision and guidance for this position? I'm ready and willing to follow protocols and be responsible for my work, but the fact of the matter is I am brand new to the field and this clinic so I'd like to know how we plan ahead for my success and your satisfaction with my work?"
posted by Lyn Never at 10:53 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

(Job-related moving expenses are only deductible if you stay at the job for a while, or declare that you intend to. You probably can't claim that for this job if it does end today. But obv you should look into it. That's just what I recall from claiming moving expenses this year myself.)
posted by heresiarch at 11:08 AM on April 17, 2015

I'm not sure if you qualify for unemployment, but if you resign, you definitely won't get it.

This isn't always true, so don't assume it!
posted by small_ruminant at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't resign! Get unemployment! You don't have to put every job on your resume. Don't worry about your work record for anything under a year.
posted by myselfasme at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. If your do need to start job hunting again, plan on being asked why you left the other jobs/why you were let go. Don't badmouth your former employers/co-workers. Own up to your mistakes and talk a lot about what you did/what you are doing to correct your deficiencies. Talk about how you would prevent these problems in the future. For example,"There was no established protocol, for test X. In the future, I would ask my supervisor/trainer/mentor 'I want to make sure I am doing this properly. This is my idea about how to do X test. Is this correct?'" Also, if your supervisor is not very available. Ask him/her, "who should I check with if you are tied up?"

Good luck. The best way to deal with this is keep moving forward. Identify your weaknesses and figure out how to eliminate them. It sounds like you have the skills for the job. You just need to find the right workplace to fit into. Find yourself a fabulous job with great co-workers. You can do it!
posted by Beti at 11:51 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

There are two ways you can approach losing a job: What can I learn from this to improve my career down the line - OR - I need validation that I'm okay and the organization was terrible and that it wasn't my fault etc. The tone of your question seems to totter between the two, and that's understandable as you don't have a lot of experience with this kind of thing. The best thing you can do at this point in time is to commit to making the best learning opportunity it can possibly be.

Is it possible that nearly every path lead to you not working for them? Absolutely - and it's a little unavoidable that you will take jobs in your life that are destined to not work out. Until you walk out of that building a final time, your job is now to glean ever parcel of information you can from what happened. For example, you now know that in an interview you need to ask if there are written policies/procedures/systems in place for every task you will be expected to perform, and if you will have direct access to them immediately upon hire. You need to ask what system they use to evaluate employees and with what frequency. You need to find out if there is a plan in place if you can't get the help you need from your direct supervisor or co-workers. A good organization will happily answer these types of questions as they are proud of what they do. Remember, an interview isn't just about you proving to them that you can do the job - they also should be selling you on working for their organization.

As a tangent, because I can tell it is bothering you: it's really unreasonable to expect to find out the real truth of why you were let go. If they are a remotely put-together organization, they will have documentation and reasons for why they are letting you go. It may be valid, it may be not. Unfortunately, as you've indicated in your explanation, the performance of the job veers into the subjective which is what made it hard to pin down the exact expectations your supervisor had. Maybe this was about the supervisors friend, maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was about you genuinely not doing a good job, maybe it wasn't. Maybe this is some sort of veiled cost-cutting attempt, maybe it wasn't. In the end it doesn't really matter - chock this up to a long-term practice interview and move on.

The really good news is that you are in a medical field - the number of jobs available is only growing and I'm sure you'll be able to find a good place to work.
posted by _DB_ at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

You've been at this place a month and they're saying you aren't following protocols? That's THEIR problem, not yours. This supervisor isn't training you properly, or at least giving you a fair shake. I assume that the first three months on a job are for learning and figuring out how things work, not just for this awful supervisor to say "Oh, she isn't working out after a month, let's get my friend in."

Echoing all the excellent advice above: Do NOT quit. They must have some sort of HR protocol, and it would be extremely unwise of them to say "Oh, we fired her after a month because it wasn't working out." It reflects EXTREMELY poorly on them, not you.

And if you do get canned, don't worry about what goes on your resume. Just leave off this crappy place. And good luck.
posted by vickyverky at 5:34 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, for your replies. The meeting with HR was not very constructive, with the exception of getting them to agree on a neutral reference- They won't mention I was terminated. In this state an employer can give almost any information about a former employee, short of slander. So I felt this was a win, if a small one.

I am just leaving this place off my resume. It was only a month, and I hope that the move is reason enough to have a gap in my employment history, and I can explain the very first jobs termination reasonably (negotiated to take a termination with rehire so I wouldn't have to pay back my relocation bonus, since per my contract a resignation would have voided the contract).
posted by spacecowgirl at 7:53 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

As others said, shit happens. Keep your chin up, feed your determination and keep looking for that right job. It could be that your work is ok, but you are communicating too much to patients, or saying stuff that is a no no. I would dig to find out where my perceived deficiencies are. You might wait a month or two and bump into some former coworkers. By that time they may have more information to offer why you were fired as the rumor mill churns.

Don't worry about putting that one on your resume.
posted by nogero at 1:04 AM on April 18, 2015

I am just leaving this place off my resume. It was only a month, and I hope that the move is reason enough to have a gap in my employment history, and I can explain the very first jobs termination reasonably (negotiated to take a termination with rehire so I wouldn't have to pay back my relocation bonus, since per my contract a resignation would have voided the contract).

This sounds like a very good idea. There's no point in having to explain this at interviews, especially if it was only a month. Hopefully this will ultimately be nothing more than a minor blip on your path to finding a place you fit into. Good luck!
posted by naju at 5:45 PM on April 18, 2015

As you note, this isn't the first time this has happened, and it isn't the first time you spent the whole time pointing the finger at everybody but yourself.

The likelihood that you just happen to have worked with two completely different groups of people who are solely to blame for your problems, while you are a competent, hardworking person who was a good match for those jobs, is pretty low.

Generally, there are at least some people who are keen to help new people out, and helping them to get up to speed, if only for self-interest (ie, they can stop babysitting you). Your previous post suggests that people are disinclined to do this for you:

"Nothing I did was right, and there was no support or instruction for what they said I was doing wrong. Typically if I did something they didn't like, or if I had a question, I would be pushed to the side or asked to leave the room and they would fix the problem but never actually instruct me, so I would have to try (often unsuccessfully) to figure out what was wrong or try to figure out how to fix the problem on my own."

There's a message there. Why is it that you can make the newbie mistakes most people will use as coaching opportunities, yet these people are inclined to simply clean up your mess and then ask you to move on?

You could be really, really unlucky, but if it's you, you need to know for sure or this is just going to happen again. The best thing you can do is ask for frank feedback. Tell them to be brutally honest. Sign an 'I promise I won't sue you for hurting my feelings' form if that's what it takes for them to be straight up about the reasons you're getting fired.

The meeting with HR was not very constructive

Oh well, too late.

There's a reason why you don't seem to be able to get along with out constant support from (and then constantly blaming) others, who seem to very quickly decide you're not worth helping in the first place. You say that the reason is other people. But what are the odds that all of those people are equally mistaken about you?

You say that you're depressed and anxious, but have you considered that this is the driver, rather than a symptom, of your performance? It's a vicious cycle, to be sure, but were you a happy, well-adjusted, well-socialised person before this happened? Have you seen a mental health professional?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:56 AM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: I never said I am completely competent or perfect. I am new at this and I need help. The first place, two of the three employees made sure to not help, told me point blank they didn't want a new graduate, and one even told me she would make sure I was fired or quit. Only one person was willing to help if I needed it, but otherwise I was on my own. When the helpful one wasn't there, the other two would take most of the exams so I didn't have the opportunity to do the work or get experience. The supervisor of the department talked to them, and they would say okay, but then just do the same things again next time. It was a small, rural community, and these women were natives to it. The position I was in had very high turnover, 4 people in 2 years, and from what I can tell, it was because of the treatment by the senior techs.

This time I attempted to take a different approach. I knew there were things I didn't know, or didn't excel at, so I read my course materials and watched videos for the things I knew were problems. I asked for help still, and some people were open to it, others not so much. The problem is that when I was finally told what problems they said I had, it was too late to fix them, and many were things so simple that I could have fixed them had I known (technical things like caliper placement or protocol). Also, the supervisor made many assumptions about why I did things the way I did, rather than talking to me about it, and even if I did things according to the doctors or senior employees, it was still wrong to her. And she was rarely available for me to talk to directly about this stuff.

I refuse to believe that I cannot do this job. I just need a place willing to work with me, which I haven't gotten yet. It is hard to find places here that will hire a new graduate, probably for this very reason- they can't or don't want to, spend time helping someone. In fact, I wasn't trained at the new place. Not even a day, they just threw me in and that was that. I looked up the few protocols they had and did my best to learn the equipment.

As far as my mental health, yes, I have depression and anxiety problems. I don't see a counselor right now because I simply cannot afford it, so I am limited to the self care I was taught by one of my previous counselors.

(As a side note, 'lucky' has never been used to describe me. I've been in multiple car accidents caused by others, I've been shot after being caught in cross fire of a gang shooting, I've had my identity stolen 3 times, every place I've lived has had issues with flooding and destroying my belongings, as well as a host of other things).
posted by spacecowgirl at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: Another thing, because this is obviously weighing on my mind. In the meeting with the supe the day before I lost the job, she finally sat down with me to review my work. I asked her if she thought I can do the job and she was very enthusiastic and said yes, I should find another opportunity and that it just "lack of experience". This is when I found that many of the things she considered mistakes were things that would have been eliminated with some simple training, and the other things we items I didn't know I had done wrong, because I was basically teaching myself a lot of this stuff and no one ever told me I had done it wrong. In fact, the supe said she would work with me one on one two or three times, but it never materialized. Since she was often not around I would have to ask others for assistance.

I know I need to work on my skills, but I do feel like I was failed by other of these jobs. First was just a bad bad work environment, and this one I was a place holder until the supes friend was available to take the job. *sigh*
posted by spacecowgirl at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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