One of the scariest parts of being fired is that it seemingly affixes a scarlet letter to your chest for future hiring managers to avoid. But if you approach the conversation correctly, a blemish on your résumé could be harnessed as an asset in a job interview. Belo Cipriani of The San Francisco Chronicle has four tips for maneuvering around the elephant in the room.

Cipriani's first bit of advice: be frank, be honest. If asked, don't say you quit if you were fired, don't say you were laid off if that's not wholly true. A good hiring manager will have done their homework on you. Don't say things that will clash with their research.

"Focus on the main reason why you were let go and try pushing all the noise leading up to the event to the side. Whether the work environment had become toxic, you had a terrible boss, or if the quality of your projects dropped, it’s important to own up to it."

The most important thing to talk about is the lessons you've learned. This is similar to giving a good answer to the "what would you say your biggest weakness is?" question.

"While many people get fired, not all of them make self-improvements. It’s crucial to show potential employers how the event helped you grow in a positive way. Showing you are aware of your limitations will make you look more appealing."

Cipriano's third tip is to keep the explanation concise. You don't need to plunge into the Victor Hugo novel of your past employment. You should avoid delving into feelings of bitterness or obsession. You want to convey that you've gotten over the past and are ready to move on to a future with the new company.

Finally, be sure to rehearse. Allow yourself the confidence of knowing exactly what you need to say and how you're going to say it. Follow this advice and the scarlet "F" on your chest will be replaced with an "H" for Hired.

Keep reading at SF Gate for more on Belo Cipriano's tips for explaining being fired.

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