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THE QUESTION

I was unexpectedly let go toward the end of my trial period at a non-profit, after just two months. I was simply told I needed too much guidance. While I have always been hard-working, I have been let go before, and am concerned it will happen again if I don't figure out what the problem is with me. In the meantime, would you suggest I remove it from my résumé and LinkedIn? I don't want to draw attention to what went wrong, but I am interested in your advice.

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Bruce Sandy

Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver

You are right. You need to learn from these situations or you are likely to repeat the pattern in other positions. I am curious about your level of self awareness and your ability to read social cues in the workplace, given your statement that you were "unexpectedly let go." Were there no signs or discussions with your employer that you were not performing as expected?

It sounds like there may have been some confidence, initiative and self-direction issues. Even though it may be difficult, you will want to get some specific feedback from your two previous employers about why you were let go and what you would have needed to do to succeed in those positions. Take notes and ask for specific examples and their recommendations for change.

Work with a career or leadership coach on identified areas for growth and development, such as emotional intelligence, assertiveness, confidence and leadership style.

You will also want to do your homework on the organizations to which you are applying to find out if they are a good fit with respect to leadership, culture and teamwork.

It is up to you whether you leave the last position on your résumé and LinkedIn. If you do leave it on, you will most likely get questions from prospective employers about your short tenure, which you will need to be prepared to answer.

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THE SECOND ANSWER

Eileen Chadnick

Principal, Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications, Toronto

I can understand why this is concerning for you. Being a hard worker is a great virtue, but it's not enough if you aren't meeting expectations for the role.

You mentioned that you've been let go before, so I'm wondering whether you might be operating with blind spots about the job's requirements, the culture expectations and even your own skills, strengths and aptitudes. The key is to uncover the gaps that are getting in the way of your success. Without this awareness, it will be hard for you to correct your course.

Try to elicit some honest and specific feedback from your past employers. "Not working out" is too vague. You need concrete feedback on your behaviour, skills or other areas that may need attention. With more self-awareness, you can develop yourself through training, coaching or self-directed methods and focus on finding a better fit.

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Keep in mind that fit is also about the organization's culture. Do you have a good sense of the kind of environment that best aligns with your values and abilities? Perhaps you might find success in a different environment or area of work.

In future, make sure you are extremely clear on job expectations, organizational culture and your own abilities. Also, have check-in conversations with your supervisor, before it's too late to rectify any problems.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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