I proceeded to tell the story of Alice's Restaurant in four-part harmony...
October 7, 2010 9:22 AM Subscribe
I was fired...years ago. Do I tell? If so, what do I say?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry about the length.
I'm in the later stages of the hiring process for a professional job in my field. I've already been interviewed, once over the phone and once in person. Now they've asked me to fill out a form that requests other information, such as references...and whether I've ever been disciplined at a former job. With the usual fine print that lying is grounds for termination in the future, of course.
I was fired from my first professional job after six months, basically for not being efficient enough and for showing up 20 minutes late sometimes. "Unprofessionalism." Though I think this company tended to fire people with a rather free hand (data point: my friend down the hall also got fired, after three months), it's also true that I was sometimes inefficient and late. Well, it was my first real job. I had a lot to learn.
I found a new job in my field almost immediately, so there is no gap on my resume. And since getting fired, I've acquired several years of experience and references, and I've done just fine. I guess I learned what I needed to learn! (Heh...one of the things I learned was to be better at picking a workplace that's a good fit for me. But I'm also more organized and professional. Duh, years of experience.) My supervisors have seemed generally happy with my work--one even asked me to come back after I left.
So now...what do I say on the form? The question is worded something like, "Have you ever been formally disciplined (warned, suspended, fired), yes/no? If yes, please explain."
The company that fired me is a very big corporation. If asked, they would not say that I was fired for fear of being sued (they told me that when I left). There's no resume gap. My six-month tenure is the only red flag. I don't think the hiring company would find out I was fired.
On the other hand, "honesty is the best policy" and all that. The firing was years ago, and is simply a reflection of my inexperience combined with a strict corporate environment. (The hiring company is a non-profit with a more laid-back environment.) Besides, I'm more comfortable being honest.
I'm leaning towards telling the truth. Should I, or will I irreparably hurt my chances by doing so? If I tell the truth, how do I word it? I see that the question, as worded, leaves some room for polite vagueness. Like, I could say, "Yes, it was my first real job and I had a lot to learn." Would that work? Do I add say something about the place being a "bad fit"? Do I emphasize all I've learned since?
Any advice greatly, greatly appreciated.