Last month, I received a call in which my next level manager read a three minute script informing me that my employment with said company was at-will and, as such, my employment was being separated effective immediately. (This was on the first day of an approved vacation.)

I was not given any reason, nor was I given an opportunity to ask any questions. When I tried, I was told that the conversation had concluded.

To give some background, I had been with the company just under 3 years. My performance evaluations had been good. (I had even been told with the last one that it was one of the highest in my region.) I had been recognized by corporate for team engagement. Out of 14 managers/teams in my region, my team always came in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in sales (always far exceeding quotas).

No one had ever indicated to me that there was any type of problem. However, I strongly suspect that this manager knew that some things may come to light that would not bode well for him. (Not because I would have said anything but because his manager or HR may have caught something.) For example, he had not ever worked with me. There were some training modules assigned when I was hired that had never been finished because moving to the next phase required him working with me.

I would never discuss this in an interview or go into it on an application. However, I do try to be honest in both of these areas.

On an application or in an interview what can I state as my reason for leaving? Is 'laid off' an option?


I can understand (and even accept) that this question was considered a duplicate. However, the comments and answers to the to other question were not nearly as helpful as the comments and answers received for this one.

Also, I took the terminology to a different meaning. I always thought that being fired meant with cause and had a negative connotation. Other terms such as being let go, laid off, position eliminated, etc. seem to not indicate anything negative. (Note that some applications actually ask if you have ever been fired from a position.)

Is any of this thinking correct or am I just living in the dark ages? Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks.

  • 5
    You could always ask HR what exactly happened, but failing any further information being available, I'd probably just tell a future employer my position was eliminated. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 13:17
  • 1
    Simply state "They read me a canned statement that I was employed at will and dismissed me with no reason stated. My repeated attempts to find why hit a managerial wall of silence. I was a top performer there, and I can provide you references from there if you so wish" Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 15:07
  • 2
    Side note: in some countries it is not legal to terminate employment without a valid reason. In such a country, you may even cite that company to court and win a compensation for being treated unfairly. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 16:38
  • @PéterTörök Thanks, but I live in the US which is, for the most part, at-will employment. Certain states and localities have different laws but, unfortunately I live in Virginia which is an at-will state. We really have no protections from or recourse to these types of situations.
    – Cindy
    Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 16:49
  • Saying as little as possible is the best course. An explanation of the specific circumstances can lead to further questions or be perceived as bad mouthing the previous company. I like @LaconicDroid's suggestion to just say the position was eliminated.
    – user98768
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


This is a tough one. If this had happened to me, I think I would be honest and forthcoming about what happened. I would say exactly what you have said in the first three paragraphs and in the first sentence of the fourth. Your performance was good; the company decided to terminate your employment without warning and with no explanation; and it's a complete mystery to you why this occurred.

What I would not do is speculate on why. There's nothing to be gained by trying to reason out what happened in an interview situation. Just stress the good work that you did there, the experience that you gained, and how it would be relevant to the new position.


I'd say you can be relaxed about this (not that losing your job is relaxing in any way).

You weren't terminated for cause (in fact they went out of their way to avoid giving you a cause), which would be a tougher sell, but still doable as long as it wasn't illegal.

You can honestly say you lost your job due to a business decision, there was no specific reason and your appraisals had been excellent, enough said.

The last few years have given a lot of people your situation, don't let it stop you from moving on as it shouldn't.

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