Here’s Why I Love Hiring People Who Have Been Fired Before

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.

The 5 stages of getting fired

It might be their fault, or not, but either way, it’s not uncommon. Here’s what happens to most people when they get fired — it’s like the five (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 way 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.

Fired people have extra motivation to do well

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, who maybe are 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!

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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.” It doesn’t matter who you are talking about, from our best to our worst employee, but 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!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.