I worked for the City of Jacksonville as a support developer for a year and a half. I worked for their systems fixing and upgrading multiple applications, over 200 tickets in that period. At the end, the manager gave me wrong directions and I was discharged with a memo for performance reasons. The whole management team was behind this.

I haven't found a software developer/similar position in six months after I was terminated.

How do I explain this to other companies who recruit me? They were already under paying me and now I am getting jobs with much lower salaries.


2 Answers 2


Most government organizations (in the US) already have a stigma of hiring people who are mostly nicely described as "less than performant". If you were unable to perform to the lowest standards (a perception), there very likely is no explanation suitable enough.

If you've found that this is the case where your capabilities are dismissed without regard to actual ability simply based on the fact that you were fired from a position that is generally thought in the realm of "how on earth do you get fired from there", then your only recourse is to find some way to rebuild the reputation.

One method is to take the jobs that you feel are "beneath" you or that under pay you. Use that job to re-establish your perceived competence and capability. Regardless of industry, reputation is often everything. While it won't usually get you a job you're unqualified for, it can certainly get you eliminated from a job you are.

If you can't take a job that under pays, then you'll need to find a job with a company that isn't privy to or predujiced against this mark in your reputation. This is often a company that is out of town or one that is constantly at odds with the organization you are exiting.

If those two options aren't acceptable then heading to another city may be your only recourse. It is often easier to start from a position of "no reputation" than a position of "bad reputation".

  • 2
    On behalf of every government employee who works their tail off every single day they go into work, that stigma, is false. I don't disagree that to be discharged from a government job for performance reasons, is extremely hard to do though.
    – Donald
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 22:30
  • @Ramhound: I apologize as I meant no offense. I've also worked government contracts with some outstanding, hardworking individuals. I personally don't make judgments based on it, and I think a lot of people are "hard done by" as a result of it. But to deny the stigma exists would by myopic in my opinion. My apologies for any offense given by my statement, but I think my description reflects reality. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 0:44
  • I took no offense for the simply fact, in order to be let go from a position like that, gross negligence likely existed.
    – Donald
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 1:11

Use it to show your ability to learn and adapt. I've was in similar positions a couple of times in my early career. I tackled it with honest truth, focusing on the facts and then talked about what I learned and would do different in the future.

If this is a case of being thrown under the bus, then if you take a truthful, factual, approach an employer worth working for is going to see that you are professional and can face adverse situations.

"I was let go for what the company called performance reasons. I had been working on project X, which was to XYZ. Towards the end of the project my manager instructed me to do Y, which turned out to be wrong because of Z. I know now that I should have asked more questions before moving on that because if I'd asked question we might have discovered the disconnect in time. Unfortunately the review I was given focused on only my behavior so I was let go as a result."

Best of luck!

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