I had a refreshing conversation with a Human Resources person recently.
I was asked by a friend to provide a reference for employment, and was honored to do so. During the course of describing my relationship with the person in reference, I mentioned that I had been fired from the company where we met and worked together.
The engineer in me mentions these types of things, with no value judgment assigned, as facts. I say it with no more passion or conviction than I state "The sky is blue."
But I learned something during this exchange. The HR person was impressed with my openness about the matter and told me my attitude about it indicated self-confidence. Indicating self-confidence is a good thing if you're talking to a human resources person, so I thought I'd pass this tidbit along: If you've been canned, bring it up!
It might help.
The details of my experience are not as important, but these sorts of things happen so I'll share some.
It was a small company that had been in business for a couple years when I joined them. My motivation for going to work there was to be closer to my girlfirend (to whom I am now happily married) which, I'm certain, affected my judgment while interviewing the company.
"Interviewing the company?" you ask. Yep - they're interviewing you, you should be interviewing them too. That "good fit" stuff (more on this later) is a two-way street.
Looking back, there were clues during the interviewing process that I ignored. When I took notice of potential warnings, I naively thought "I can manage this." Truth was, I could not manage it.
From my first week on the job, bad things happened. They continued to happen and grow in magnitude. Although I made a couple friends there - people with whom I will remain in contact for the rest of my life, most likely - I also lost one good friend as a result of my involvement with this company. And it happened within the first 30 days of arriving on the job.
Still, I persisted. Still thinking "I can manage this."
I put that episode behind me and resolved to "do better next time." I did do better, but things did not improve for me. In fact, they grew much worse.
At my 90-day review I was denied a raise discussed at the time of my hire. There were three measurements I was to achieve in order to earn the raise:
- Provide technical leadership
- Develop software
- Generate a certain volume of sales
I hit two of the three. The owner of the company acknowledged this during the review. I missed the sales target.
Pop quiz: The resulting raise was:
a) 66.6666% of the agreed-upon amount + the percentage of the sales quota I did generate.
b) 66.6666% of the agreed-upon amount
c) 50% of the agreed-upon amount
d) 25% of the agreed-upon amount
e) 0% of the agreed-upon amount
Sadly, the answer was e.
Now I'm not one to make excuses. I believe if you agree to something - especially something involving money - you stick to it no matter what. That said, I started with this company in August 2001. Anyone recall any market-impacting events around a month after that?
It had already become clear to me, by the time of the 90-day review, that my career with this company was in trouble.
Why? In all fairness it was not a "good fit." That's what the owner told the Virginia Employment Comission when he protested my application for unemployment after firing me, and I have to agree.
Things I did - heck, things that are just my nature - irked the company president. I realized much later he really enjoyed having an impact on people's lives, and he measured that impact by their reactions to things he did.
Ask anyone who knows me, I don't react. It's not in my nature. I'm almost always content and happy. When life hands out a lemon, I wait for life to hand out a crab-stuffed flounder filet to squeeze it onto.
It's how I roll.
I also don't derive satisfaction from the misfortune of others, no matter how much effort they expend to bring said misfortune upon themselves. There were about 12 employees working there the day I got canned, including the company president and a vice-president whom I believe is part-owner. Of those, only the president and vice-president remain with the company, and last time anyone mentioned it to me (I don't ask about such things), the company had 2 or 3 employees.
Part of this is due to the general economy of the area.
But most of it probably isn't.
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