How Do I Get A Job With A Terrible Work History?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about effect of a bad work history:

I am 24 years old and at my last job, I worked as a nursing assistant for almost two years. That job didn’t end well, as I was placed on step 1 discipline for going beyond the scope of practice two months prior to my termination. Right before leaving my employer, I sent slanderous emails about my boss to other co-workers.

Will I ever have a bright future? I am currently employed at a nursing agency, which pays the bills while I am in school. I am going into the medical coding field and I don’t know how I am going to find my ideal career with the aftermath at my previous place of employment. I need advice, and I need it now.

Signed, Scared To Death

Dear Scared To Death:

Will you ever have a bright future? I don’t know, but I predict you can. How? By building on where you are now and proving that you are a one of the best possible employees. Apparently this nursing agency where you now work continues to employ you. This fact provides evidence that you can be a responsible employee, and even more importantly, that while being employed you are earning the money needed to acquire the knowledge and certification to do medical coding. So make copies of performance evaluation and request letters of recommendation.

Obviously you are worried that your unhappy behavior while working two years as a nursing assistant will catch up with you when applying for a job and/or if you don’t disclose that when interviewing, it might surface later. A former employer can reveal what you did and didn’t do so long as it is true. However, that bad history is something you are living down now while working responsibly for the nursing agency.Your resume will have to report your two years as a nursing assistant. It doesn’t have to report that you were on Step 1 discipline or that you badmouthed your boss in emails.

If asked, you can explain fully or simply say something like, “I learned a lot while working as a nursing assistant. Most of all I learned that was not the kind of job for me. You can see that I have been a responsible employee in my most recent job in which I have been employed while acquiring schooling to do medical coding.”

Will the bad history of your previous job follow you? Perhaps, but a former employer usually is careful about what it reports about former employees. Because of lawsuits on this matter, most employers stick with verifiable data such as the position you held and salary. We don’t provide legal advice; but you can see advice on this topic in Internet sources. For example, you can find answers to your question on such articles as Speak No Evil: What Can a Former Employer Say About You? By Tanya Roth on January 26, 2010 FindLaw site http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2010/01/speak-no-evil-what-can-your-former-employer-say-about-you.htmlI’ve copied several sentences from this source: “As a broad concept, your former employer can generally say anything he or she would like about you, in references, as long as it is true.

With that in mind, there are some limitations. . . About 20 states have specific laws against blacklisting. Blacklisting occurs when a former employer intentionally takes action to prevent a person from obtaining new employment . . A former employer is free to state whatever they know to be factually true about an employee in references, but resolution of what is or is not actually true may cost lawyer’s fees and time in court.” Need you be worried to death? No. Can you know that a future employer will never learn about your performance or hateful emails? No. Can you put that thought out of your mind? Not completely, but you can let the past be a learning experience, rather than an obsession that plays and replays in your mind. Is it possible that your former boss might sue you for the slanderous emails? Yes, but it is not likely, if they didn’t harm his reputation or hurt his career. And if he/she were going to sue, likely that would have done so already. I don’t know if you apologized for those emails, but that might be something to consider. My best to you. As you continue on your career path, think about and apply the truths you learn along the way, such as that embedded in my signature advice: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden