May 27, 2020 | 5 min read
Laid Off Vs. Fired: The Key Differences + How To Move On


Losing your job can put you in a stressful situation both financially and emotionally. Regardless of whether you saw it coming, it is normal to feel upset, embarrassed, and a little angry. While it’s important to take some time to yourself, you don’t want to take too long to start evaluating your situation.

It can be difficult, but to move forward in your career, you must first identify the exact reasons why you were terminated. What this ultimately comes down to is the question: were you laid off vs. fired? Your answer can impact the way you approach your upcoming job search, so continue reading to learn more about the differences, as well as how to prepare for the road ahead.

Layoff: The result of circumstances

When it comes down to it, a lay off means that the position is no longer needed at the company. This is to no fault of the employee and is typically not correlated to their performance. Instead, a layoff can be the result of factors outside of the individual’s control, including corporate downsizing or restructuring, budget cuts, a merger or acquisition, and evolving business needs.

Fired: The employee is at fault

Getting fired is different in the sense that is directly related to the specific employee. Whether this is due to performance, a poor attitude, or a violation of a company policy, the employee is considered at fault and their role will typically be filled by another person. In many of these situations, the employee would have most likely be given a warning and a probationary period to improve or make changes. Those unwilling or unable to get back on track will ultimately find that their employment has been terminated.

Addressing the situation when job searching

Whether you were laid off vs. fired, addressing this tactfully in an interview can be challenging. However, the best way to bounce back is to accept the situation and recognize it as an opportunity to move your career in a better direction. This will help you stay positive and focused on applying for roles that better align with your professional and personal needs.

Once you start getting interviews, being prepared to answer questions about your termination or why you left your job is key. In order to approach these questions with success, here are some general guidelines you should follow:

  • Be honest about what happened
  • Do not speak negatively about your former employer
  • Address the steps you’ve taken to improve (if you were terminated due to performance issues)

Read also: 3 Ways To Explain Getting Fired In An Interview

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