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At my last job I was in a project, my performance was good, I was even going to get a raise, but the pandemic happened and it was put on hold.

I was then changed to another team and project. That manager thought I was doing poorly and my contract wasn't renewed.

What can I say when asked 'Why did you leave your last job?'

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  • Does this answer your question? How do you explain getting fired in a phone/job interview? – gnat Feb 25 at 17:12
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    they did NOT get fired. – Fattie Feb 25 at 17:43
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    When you say you got "laid off", was that actually being laid off (so the job vanished, they did not need anybody doing that job) or did you mean you were fired (so the job is still there, but they decided to hire someone else and let you go)? – nvoigt Feb 25 at 18:36
  • @nvoigt i meant laid off, because the company didn't renewed my contract – Progs Feb 25 at 20:32
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    So you actually were neither fired nor laid off, you had a limited time contract and did not get a new one? – nvoigt Feb 25 at 20:33
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You've said it perfectly yourself.

"My performance was so good on the XYZ project, in fact I was about to get a raise, but the pandemic happened and the whole project was put on hold."


One further point: note that contracts end!

It's meaningless to "explain" why a contract "ended", it simply ends after the time period or the project is complete.

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    @B.J.A.A. I think he is arguing that you obfuscate. – Matthew Gaiser Feb 25 at 17:08
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    "The whole project was put on hold and I was laid off." This is true. By the way, you don't get laid off for poor performance. You get fired for poor performance, laid off for lack of work. If you really were laid off stop equating that with a performance review. – Kate Gregory Feb 25 at 17:31
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    hi @B.J.A.A. !! No, I saw it. You should say what I said in my answer. Because it is correct and true. You also tried out on another project, but that didn't work out. Good luck! – Fattie Feb 25 at 17:42
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    Most countries have actual laws about laying people off. You can't just lay off one person randomly for being a bad performer. It's a specific piece of jargon connected to employment legislation. The word for "this one person is a poor performer and can't work here any more" is "fired". If OP was told they were laid off, that is what they should tell others and stop mentioning performance. – Kate Gregory Feb 25 at 18:39
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    So since it turns out OP was neither laid off nor fired, they can still use this answer, but end with "the project was put on hold and my contract wasn't renewed" which doesn't volunteer performance information and will be both true, and something the interviewer is happy to hear. – Kate Gregory Feb 25 at 21:57
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I would simply say that the project they first contracted you to do was completed successfully and you worked with them to look for a new project for you to work on, but they just didn't really have any further work that was a good fit for your skills.

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  • Indeed. If people ask why did you leave Project X, I can say truthfully, we finished it on time and delivered it and the customer is happy with it, so the engineers are no longer required. Price of success. – RedSonja Mar 1 at 8:02
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At my last job I was in a project, my performance was good, I was even going to get a raise (but the pandemic happened and it was on hold), then I was changed to another team and project, manager thought I was doing poorly and I got laid off.

I would explain it in that same exact sentence except leave the last part out. Just say you were laid off because the pandemic hit and your project got put on hold and ultimately got laid off.

However, it's important to understand laid off vs fired. If they laid you off, then you are good to go. If you were fired for poor performance, then you need to bring up at your next interview and go with the full story above that a project switch during the pandemic ultimately lead to a poor performance.

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