From Fired to Hired: 10 Communication Strategies That Will Make That Happen for You


Have you been fired?

If so, you know all the negative feelings that assault you immediately. You feel:

*Confused—“I thought they liked my work.”

*Cheated—“They should have fired George instead. His work was sloppy.”

*Resentful—“I’ll tell everybody off if I ever get the chance.”

*Sad—“I feel like I’m attending my own funeral.”

*Frightened—“Guess I’ll never get a good job again.”

*Bitter—“I’ll never speak to those people again.”

*Worried—“I can’t eat, sleep, or even think straight.”

*Alone—“Now I know what real loneliness is.”

*Ashamed—“Guess I let my family down big-time.”

I know these feelings all too well, because in 1996 I lost a job I thought I would have for the rest of my career. For two or three days, these defeatist attitudes had a solid grip on me.

However, I realized quite soon that I had to change my thought pattern in order to become successful. Basically, I relied more than ever on my communication skills, because I believe Daniel Webster’s statement:

If I were to lose all of my possessions except one, I would save the power of communication, for by it I would soon regain all of the rest.”

In fact, through my experiences–and by observing how others bounced back from a professional grave site–I have identified ten communication strategies that will move you from fired. . .to hired. Not only will I describe the strategies, I will recommend resources you can use to develop each one.

FIRST STRATEGY: Talk Positively to Yourself

You might be thinking, “That’s crazy. I don’t talk to myself.” But you do. I’ll bet you have muttered to yourself comments like these:

  • “Lost my glasses again. Man, am I scatterbrained.”
  • “No need for me to try out for the team. I’ve got no athletic ability.”
  • “I’m so sloppy. That’s why my office looks this disorganized.”

During a job search, you need to change the tone of your self-talk considerably. In fact, you should say many affirmative things to yourself before you go to your first job interview. Try affirmations like these:

“My suit might not be new, but it’s still in style and looks very professional.”

“I meet people well, so this interview will give me a chance to shine.”

“Other candidates for this position might have more credentials on paper, yet none of them can match my work ethic, which makes me the ideal choice.”

*Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance”

*Shad Helmstetter, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself

*Bill Lampton’s video, “Talk With Yourself Before You Talk with Others”

Here’s the link:

SECOND STRATEGY: Sharpen Your Speaking Skills

When you interview for upper level jobs, you can expect to do more than talk with one or two individuals in an interview setting. Chances are good that you will also speak to a group, made up of the officials you would be working with very closely. Search committee heads arrange these group interviews frequently, so you will be wise to get ready for them.

Let’s face it—we choose presidents, corporate CEOs, coaches, and other leaders because they can stand before a group and share their ideas with poise, power, and persuasive ability.

Roger Ailes, You Are the Message

Bill Lampton, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! Chapter 5, “Giving Speeches”

Bill Lampton’s CD, “How to Become a Dynamic Speaker!”

Bill Lampton’s video, “Six Steps for Controlling Your Stage Fright”

Bill Lampton’s video, “3 More Ways to Control Your Stage Fright”

Bill Lampton as your Speech Coach—a service he has provided for top executives at Gillette, Duracell, Procter & Gamble, Worldwide, Inc., Aivant, and other corporations

THIRD STRATEGY: Learn to Make a Sizzling First Impression

The old saying is absolutely true: “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Human behavior researchers tell us that we have between 7 and 17 seconds in an initial meeting with someone we don’t know to impress them favorably. If we fail to do that then, we’ll have a tough time getting them to like us—and to consider us a leading candidate for a job.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of hosting CBS news analyst Charles Kuralt, when my organization hosted him for a speaking event. Our planning committee knew he would deliver an interesting, information packed speech. That was his strong suit. Here’s what we were nervous about, though–how he would relate to audience members on a one on one basis.

Within only a few seconds after Kuralt arrived, we had our answer. Kuralt was just as warm and friendly as he was in his popular “On the Road” TV program. Instantly, he was chatty, smiling broadly, making sure he caught our names, and asking us about our city’s heritage. His gracious manner lasted the whole evening. He even stayed an hour longer than his contract required. As he was leaving, I told him: “You came here as our guest, but you left here with us as your guests.”

Bill Lampton’s “How to Make a Sizzling First Impression!”
Order the CD or the mp3

FOURTH STRATEGY: Become a Keen Listener

Assume that you are interviewing a candidate for a job. Suppose the candidate didn’t get your name right, or the name of your executive assistant. Imagine that although the candidate seems intelligent and articulate, he seems to misunderstand key points you are trying to make. Occasionally he asks you to repeat a question. Once while you were talking, he was looking out the window, as though he had lost interest. He looks like he prefers not to be here.

As a supervisor, would you hire this person? No, you wouldn’t. You recognize that top-notch team members are keen listeners.

Almost everyone who meets former President Bill Clinton gives the same report. They describe Clinton as one of the finest listeners they ever met. He welcomes everything you say. He asks questions, inviting you to talk longer. He nods in agreement. He doesn’t interrupt you. He seems far more interested in what you have to say than in taking over the conversation himself.

Interviewers respond very positively to good listeners, sensing they will become solid team players, open to other people’s ideas.

Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Chapter 5

Bill Lampton, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! Chapter 6, “Listening”

Bill Lampton’s video, “What’s Your Listening Level?”

FIFTH STRATEGY: Maintain Maximum Motivation

I’ll admit that’s not easy for an unemployed person. Appointments get canceled, advertised jobs are filled before you apply, and you keep finishing among the top four finalists—which doesn’t do you any good at the bank or grocery store.

Realize first that maintaining your motivation is strictly up to you. Your family, friends, and professional contacts can’t do that for you. Don’t wait on others to inspire you.

Our first strategy explained the value of self-talk. That’s a splendid starting point for staying motivated. Consider some other motivation steps.

Affiliate with a positive group. Avoid hanging around with job seekers who complain constantly that “there’s nothing out there for any of us.” Join civic, humanitarian, or religious groups centered on hope.

Study the lives of highly successful people, particularly those who faced severe hardships. For me, Christopher Reeve endured his paralysis with grace, humor, and optimism, though his condition warranted scant opportunity for healing. How remarkable that he could say, “I have my down days, but haven’t been incapacitated by them.”

Of course, the role models you select don’t have to be famous. Unheralded heroes surround us, volunteering in hospitals, delivering meals to shut-ins, and tutoring underprivileged children.

Memorize inspiring sayings, even short poems. Repeat them while you are exercising or as you start your day.

Spend time reveling in the marvels of nature. Breathe the fresh air deeply, with appreciation for your lung capacity. Step outside at night to see the stars on a clear evening.

Maintain your motivation, and you’ll become far more winsome than job applicants who display long faces and sagging outlooks. They look like losers, and who wants to add a loser to the payroll?

James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Christopher Reeve, Still Me

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Bill Lampton’s article, “The Word ‘Can’t’ Wasn’t in His Vocabulary”

Bill Lampton’s article,“Quarterback Eagle Day Won Big in Sports and in Life”

Bill Lampton’s audio CD, “Maintaining Maximum Motivation: Strategies for Staying in High Gear!”

SIXTH STRATEGY: Understand How to Adapt Your Communication Style

Jane goes in for an initial interview with Marvin. Jane is the effervescent type, always upbeat, bubbly, and extroverted. She intends to win Marvin over with her witty comments. Unfortunately, Marvin prefers a communication style that is much more subdued. He is detail oriented, interest in financial reports and budgets. He considers small talk a waste of time. When Jane begins the conversation by telling him what fun she and her friends had on the weekend, Marvin wonders why she didn’t get to the point of the interview right away.

Situations like that happen all too often. Highly qualified candidates like Jane are unaware of the barriers they create by using a style that not only won’t work but backfires.

Is there a simple way to learn your preferred communication style, and then identify the style of another person quickly, so you can adjust your style to get the best results? Yes, it’s known as the DISC System of Personal Style Analysis.

DISC is an acronym for the four major communication styles:


By investing a very modest amount, and spending ten minutes of your time online completing a brief questionnaire (not a test, because there are no right or wrong answers), you will receive a 22 page printout that describes your style, and also advises you on how to adjust to individuals with different styles.

Some employers administer DISC to applicants, and then discuss the results with them.

Wouldn’t you like to be well versed in DISC before that happens, by completing the DISC survey form now?

Bill Lampton can administer DISC for you online, working through Target Training International. For additional details, e-mail Bill, titling your e-mail DISC Survey Form.
His e-mail:

SEVENTH STRATEGY: Improve Your Sales and Marketing Approach

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “I’m not in sales.” Oh, but you are. You are selling your potential service and value to someone you want to work with.

You are aware, I am sure, that sales and marketing have changed drastically in the last two decades, especially for a job search. Years ago, maybe you could get by with saying to your interviewer, “Tell me what this company is all about, please.” That’s inexcusable now. The Internet provides ample information, even displaying annual reports for many companies, who are glad to display them on their corporate Web sites.

Your job search will become more pleasant and more productive if you take advantage of the experts who are available to share their sales techniques. Here are some of them:

Seth Godin, Permission Marketing

Og Mandino, Greatest Salesman in the World

Terry Brock’s “Achievement Digest” newsletter and his Online Coaching program

Bill Lampton’s “Winning Words and Ways Newsletter.” Enter your name and e-mail address in the slots provided on his site’s home page:

Bill Lampton’s moderately priced year-round Online Coaching:

Bill Lampton’s audio CD, “How to Succeed in Sales!”

EIGHTH STRATEGY: Simulate Interviews, Videotape Them, and Critique Them

The camera doesn’t lie. The camera tells us when we frown too much, lose eye contact, get defensive when a question makes us uncomfortable, repeat nervous mannerisms and gestures until they become distracting, use a monotone pitch, and ramble from the point under discussion.

On the positive side, the camera tells us when we establish obvious rapport, demonstrate a commanding presence, look confident, talk proudly about our professional accomplishments, and smile regularly.

Be sure to arrange a simulated interview, with a person qualified to role play, and then a professional qualified to help you critique your performance, offering suggestions for creating a more convincing presence.

Bill Lampton can serve as your video evaluator, either in person in the Atlanta area or in your locale. Or he can coach you through videotape or using Skype video. To discuss an arrangement, call him at 678-316-4300 or e-mail him, titling your E-mail Bill’s Coaching:

NINTH STRATEGY: Network Creatively and Constantly

Networking could easily become your most powerful communication tool during your search. Why is networking so valuable? Because you can capitalize on the credibility others have created with decision makers.

Are you afraid to ask business leaders to refer you actively or be available to give an endorsement by phone? That’s not a realistic fear, because prominent citizens feel complimented by your request.

Really, networking may be the most enjoyable part of the job search, because you get to talk with outstanding achievers, and usually you sense they are genuinely interested in referring you.

Bob Burg, Endless Referrals, Third Edition

TENTH STRATEGY: Equip Yourself to Negotiate Salary During an Interview

Congratulations—by following the first nine strategies, you have reached the interview stage. What you do and say here will shape your salary and benefits for your entire time with this employer.

So what should you do when the interviewer offers you a job? Do you merely say “Thanks,” and accept whatever salary she offers? No, unless as the saying goes you want to leave a lot of money on the table. Not only do you have the right to discuss the salary offer, a potential employer will expect you to do that.

But how do you negotiate—without sounding greedy or demanding? You’ll be happy to know that a professional colleague of mine has the answers you need.

Watch Bill Lampton interview Dick Simmonds, a longtime Human Resources expert, on the topic “Negotiate That Job Offer.”

Dick Simmonds’ Web site:

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Use Self-Directed Humor to Get Noticed

Yes, I’m continuing my “Tropical Tips” series with brief videos shot in July in the Caribbean.

My tee shirt tells you where this video originated–Cozumel, one of the world’s loveliest vacation spots, a favorite of scuba divers and even non swimming tourists.

Behind me you’ll see the Carnival Legend, my unforgettably grand cruise ship. As they say in the media, “stay tuned,” because in an upcoming blog entry I will feature Shawn Busby, the ship’s vivacious Cruise Director.

Now for my message from the dock at Cozumel:

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That’s a terrific way to bring a crowd in and to keep them happy when they become customers–use self-directed humor that’s creative and tasteful.

To illustrate further: When I speak and direct seminars about customer service, I include a comparison of two prominent American comedians, Don Rickles and Rodney Dangerfield.

Rickles, I point out in my presentations, became famous for his harsh, biting humor. Invariably, he poked fun at audience members. At times, his remarks prompted groans, not laughter. For me, he exceeded boundaries of good taste too frequently. He seemed a bit mean spirited and impolite. Sometimes he made me laugh, I admit, but I wouldn’t want to have dinner with him after the show.

Dangerfield, though, made fun of himself with his classic “I don’t get no respect” routine. He became the fall guy of his jokes. Ultimately, Rodney established a legacy of fun and entertainment, with adoring fans who memorized his one-liners. In my judgment, his approach was much more winsome than the caustic humor Rickles inflicted on audiences.

Remember, your customer service, marketing, advertising, and sales will benefit from humor that is:

Respectful of others

OK, that’s my tropical tip from the dock at Cozumel. Now I want your input. Please comment on this blog, using the Comments link to access the space for your opinions, after you sign up.

Please share with me and other readers:

1. Your favorite advertisers who use self-deprecating, tasteful humor
2. How you have used respectful humor in marketing your services
3. The sales results your business has experienced from using humor
4. Any questions you want to ask me about this topic

Thanks ahead of time for sharing your examples of humor in business.

Say. . .didn’t some guy named Disney make a few bucks using G-rated humor with his clientele?

To schedule me for your next corporate sales presentation/coaching, contact me:

Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

Meanwhile, before we schedule a sales presentation and/or coaching, you can order my audio CD, “How to Succeed in Sales!” You’ll find the CD description and ordering link on this page:

NOTE: Orders allowed from within the United States only.

However, soon I will provide a downloadable mp3 version you can purchase online from any country, including the U.S.