My Resume after Being Fired?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about what should be included in one’s resume after being fired:

My last employer terminated me from my non-permanent job after four months. They would not let me transfer to another unit or ward or shift. The place had a reputation for being hostile. Now they are blackballing me. My physician advised deleting them from my resume, but I gained valuable experience. What should I say when applying for another job? Admit to the firing and explain why? Or just erase that from resume and my life forever. It was a horrible experience and I am still in shock.

Signed, Include or Not

Dear Include or Not:

I suggest you include the place and length of employment but not that you were fired. Instead emphasize skills you used there and learned. I shared your question with one of my former students, Danica Rice, who has worked in HR and is now completing her masters in that area. She sends the following:

Terminations from employers are tricky but don’t have to be the end of the world either. Before you make the decision to delete this employer from your resume, I recommend asking yourself this question first: Was this position just a job or was it a link in my tool belt for my career (in other words the experience you gained will it assist you in what you want to do for the rest of your life)? If it was just a job then delete it but be prepared to explain the gap in your employment.

If it is a link for your career, come up with a professional explanation for the short tenured position. Focus on the experience you gained over the loss of the position. You will have to be honest on applications, but as long as you can explain you shouldn’t have an issue. When completing applications, don’t provide contact information for this employer. Here’s an example explanation during an interview:

While employed at (company), I was afforded the opportunity to learn (discuss the skills) which aided in my ability to (discuss benefits of the skills learned). Although I was let go from the position, I now understand the importance of (tell them how you plan to move forward from the experience). I hope you find this helpful and best wishes on your employment search. Everything is a learning experience so don’t stop learning.

William Gorden

Reply:

I agree.  That’s what I was going to do.  Sometimes when you explain, they will push and ask, “Were you fired or did you quit?”  I hate that kind of pushing.  I prefer to say it was a nonpermanent position and although I learned a lot and that experience should go toward helping me get what I want to do in long run, the management was dysfunctional, etc., and I left with little notice as were the terms under the application/hiring process. I just have to wait until a job interview to really know how I will respond.