I Love Hiring People Who’ve Been Fired

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.   Might be their fault, or not, either way it’s not uncommon.  Here’s what happens to most people when they get fired – it’s like the 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 path 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.  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 – maybe 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!

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”.  Doesn’t matter who – our best to our worst employee – 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!



15 thoughts on “I Love Hiring People Who’ve Been Fired

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  2. I don’t know if sometimes you are working the best even your boss will happy with you, but other colleagues are jealous because somehow they are older in the organization or they can’t perform as much well, so they feeling uncomfortable with the colleague who works better than him. due to might be insecurity to fired in his mind and finally he makes group against the person who perform well in the organization and finally all being together and remove the same person..

  3. This post speaks to me.

    There is absolutely nothing like failure to push someone to a different level of intensity than the one they occupied before.

    All of my failures have given me strength and determination, and I’ve met many candidates I can say the same of.

    Thanks for sharing this.



  4. This article is great! I enjoyed reading it and learned something new about HR, when does that ever happen 😉

  5. I don’t necessarily agree with this bit: “if you talk about someone for more than 10 minutes they turn into a piece of crap”. I’ve definitely manage to maintain a conversation about someone for 10min without reducing them to turd.

    However I absolutely agree that fired people tend to have a lot more drive than those harmoniously transferring between companies. We hired a guy who was made redundant last winter and he had so much passion, enthusiasm and determination to succeed and prove his past company wrong for letting him go. It’s inspiring how people bounce back.

    • Danielle,

      When was the last time you sat in a room of hiring managers and broke down an entire group of employees by their performance? The best employee you have will turn into garbage after 10 minutes if you don’t shut them up and move on. I’ve seen it happen in multiple industries, at multiple levels – it’s always the same. Interested to hear how your experience with performance conversations were different…


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