Is It Better NOT To Know Why You Lost Your Job?

I’m a big fan of knowledge and that includes knowing why a person lost a job – or more specifically why that person was fired. (The term “lost a job” kind of makes it sound like you don’t know where the job is any more – although in cases where jobs have been disappearing…poof!…I guess that’s true.)

But Katherine Hepburn had a different take on the whole job loss thing. She says she’d rather not know why she was fired since it allowed her to continue to move on with spirit intact, able to blame someone else rather than admitting she was in any way at fault. And funny enough…despite some short term hits to reputation…it sure didn’t hurt her career in the long run. So maybe full knowledge – or more accurately full opinion – isn’t always all that important?

If you want to hear exactly what Katherine Hepburn said, here’s a great clip from WNYC’s The Takeaway of the indomitable Ms. Hepburn being interviewed by Dick Cavett (the first part of the audio clip):

Full Audio on WNYC

Certainly another way of looking at it.

So what do you think? Would you rather know exactly why you lost your job or is ignorance sometimes bliss?

More job interview articles I hope will help:


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Ronnie Anne,
    I have heard people who’ve lost their jobs say they feel angry and betrayed they didn’t get a “good” explanation of why they were let go.

    From an HR perspective, I know that the “truth” can sometimes be dangerous. When I was in HR, we were told to give a generic or blanket response based on the situation.

    Sometimes we don’t always hear what we want to hear. If possible, learn what you could and could not control in the situation; then, let go and move forward.

  2. Great comment and great advice, Career Sherpa. You’re so right about HR. People just don’t realize sometimes HR’s hands (and mouths) are tied by policy. Thanks for adding so nicely to the discussion.

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  3. Ronnie Ann-

    It is so hard for me to get a job. I have just recently graduated from high school. But my work history is horrible. Sometimes I’d really rather not know why I was fired. Should I leave that info off my applications and resumes and put it on there hoping someone will give me a chance???

    • chandlee says:


      If you’ve recently graduated from high school, you are likely young enought that you can leave the information off your resume. Unlike school records and academic transcripts — typically, there is not a permanent record of employment that employers can see — unless you are applying for the CIA or the company does a thorough background check.

      What I would focus on to improve your chances — is learning how to be a good employee, and how to keep jobs the next time around.

      Good luck,

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