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Widowed and desperate for work

I WOULD like to get your advice on a matter similar to what your article addressed about getting hired after being fired. I was fired at a time when my husband was very sick with lung cancer. This adversely affected my work performance and I was terminated in August 2011. I had worked for the state of Florida for six years up until then. My husband passed away in July 2012 and now I desperately need to find work. I’m having trouble explaining being terminated. I need to sound honest and forthcoming, however, my emotions seem to get the better of me. Your advice would be helpful.

– Valique

CAREERS: My condolence on your husband’s passing.
It’s also regrettable that you were terminated when you were.

You must be hurting badly from your loss, while battling unemployment at the same time. Your feelings of confusion, frustration and overwhelm are understandable.

Difficult as it might be now, however, your desperate situation demands resilience, courage and faith. While you can’t change the reality of your losses, you have to claim your power of response. You have to now draw upon your inner strength to move ahead with your personal life and career.

You have indicated you are working with a career coach.
That’s good. You should also seek the support of trusted friends or family to help you through this difficult period as well. Don’t make the mistake of trying to struggle through all on your own.

Regarding your main question, my advice is to concede to your interviewer that caring for your husband really did require you to ask for time off. Stated from that point of view, it is understandable why your company terminated your employment.

As it turned out, it did allow you time to be there for him in his final months, which was a good thing.

State that you had thought about resigning to care for him, as this is a question which they will have in mind.
Explain, however, that you had liked the job and needed the income and so was trying your best to attend to your duties while caring for your husband.

From the company’s point of view, they weren’t willing at the time to allow you the space and time to do so, however – which was understandable.

That is a succinct, but honest answer which your interviewers will find acceptable. They can put themselves in your situation and see how they might have responded similarly.


Importantly, you should show that you’re beyond any adverse effects from your loss, in terms of your next job.

Briefly state that since last July, you’ve recovered from your husband’s passing. You are now ready to get back to work.
Reiterate the qualities, qualification or experience they’re looking for in the ideal candidate and emphasise why you fit the bill perfectly. This is key to your answer.

Ultimately, it’s your superior understanding of your prospective employer’s needs, and your ability to show that you’re the best candidate to fulfil them, that will give you the edge. I wish you the best in your next interview.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of a new book ‘From Problems to Power: How to Win Over Worry and Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities’. Send feedback to
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