What to do if You’re Let Go After Your Probationary Period

Woman holding her face in her hands after failing her probationary period

Didn’t Pass Your Probatinary Period? You’re not Alone

Nothing is quite as crushing as working hard to impress interviewers and score your dream job, only to have it not work out once you start. If you were let go after or even during your probationary period, I know that it sucks. But things will get better.

Three months ago my partner started his dream role. As we prepared to move across the country and only a few weeks into his probation period, his manager told him that it wasn’t going to work out.

Instead of moving to our dream home, we moved back in with my family. And instead of being in the safe job he was in previously, my partner was hunting for a job in a pandemic. It wasn’t ideal.

Now he’s a few days away from starting a job that he’s really excited about.

In the moment, it’s easy to feel like your whole world is crashing down. What happens next? How long will it take to find another job? Will anyone want to hire me after this?

But take it from me: you are still someone’s ideal candidate.

A failed probationary period does not mean that you are a failure. And it does not mean that your career is doomed.

5 Things to do if You’re Let Go After Your Probationary Period

1 – Pick Yourself Back Up

Failing probation is an emotional thing, so take some time to wallow in those emotions before you pick yourself back up.

Lean on your friends and family members if you can.

It’s important to feel your emotions but not act on them in anger. For example, it can be easy to contact your old employer to complain or start a social media rant. But these things can negatively impact your job prospects in the future.

So deal with the emotional fallout with your friends and family. If you’re struggling to find support, reach out to a careers counsellor or a professional therapist. If you’re a recent graduate, your university’s careers service will be able to help.

2 – Reflect on it and Learn

The time that you spent in your job was not wasted.

You will be able to learn from the experience and come back to the job hunt much wiser.

Perhaps you discovered that you can’t work in a certain industry or that startup culture isn’t right for you. Maybe you now know that you need a role with more support from management or one that better aligns with your responsibilities outside of work.

If you didn’t get feedback from your manager about why exactly you failed, it might be a good idea to reach out and ask for feedback now.

If the company let you go for reasons outside of their control, this part can be tricky. Maybe they couldn’t afford to keep you on the team or the whole department was let go. In these cases, there is little you can learn but you can rest easy knowing that being let go was not your fault.

Smiling woman on her laptop

3 – Make it a Positive

If you want to score your next job soon, you need to know how to spin the story of not passing probation into a positive without lying.

There are some easy ways to do this that come off very professionally in an interview.

How to explain not passing your probationary period in your next interview:

“My time with [company name] was short because I quickly realised that working in [industry or company type] was not the right fit for me. That’s why I’m so interested in joining [new company] because it’s much more aligned with my long-term goals. I’m looking for a company that I can really grow with…”

“Unfortunately, soon after I joined [company name] they realised that they were not ready to take on a new hire due to funding issues. So we parted ways amicably and I began looking for a new role…”

It’s important not to:

  • Trash the company or your manager – this will only put your interviewer off.
  • Overtly lie – you don’t want to get caught in a lie when your new employer asks for a reference, so try to keep the focus of your answer on future roles and what you learned.
  • Say anything negative – keep your emotions in check and try to speak as positively as possible.

4 – Put it in Perspective

If you were let go after only a few weeks in your role, you can rest easy knowing that it will be soon forgotten!

Although I would never recommend omitting work history when asked, you can afford to skip over it on your CV after you secure your next role and are looking for a new one in a few years!

Honesty is always the best policy, but people often trim past employment experiences from their CV.

If you’re lucky and score a new job soon, a month or so employment gap won’t even be noticed by future employers and you won’t have to talk about it in every interview you have for eternity!

For now it’s best to leave it on there as your next employer will likely want to contact them for references. And don’t worry – you shouldn’t get a bad reference.

Nowadays employers simply pass over your employment dates and job title with no comment on your time there.

5 – Know that it Does get Better

Soon you’ll be able to put all of this behind you.

So many people don’t pass their probationary periods and go on to have incredible careers and lives.

I hope that this article made you feel a little bit better about your future and a little less alone. If you need any help hunting for a new job, check out our exclusive opportunities and free training programmes!

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
Posted in It's A Grad's Life