Explaning job departure in new job application
July 8, 2011 8:29 AM   Subscribe

How to explain why I left working for a summer camp now that I am applying for a position that asks for whether I have been fired, or mutually let go for any reason of a job in the past five years as it pertains to a government position?

I was hired to work at a summer camp as a medication assistant, and after approximately 2.5 weeks decided to leave. It was a stressful event and I cried as I tried to figure out whether to stay on the position or let it go. After discussing with the director, it was decided it would be a good fit for me to leave; we both mutually believed it to be the best thing.

Although I enjoyed working with kids and helping others, I did not enjoy seeing kids vomit or dealing with nose bleeds. I also got diarrhea during my short stay and this coupled with just the feeling of "germs" everywhere I went made me unhappy and wanting to leave.

Now, I am applying to a position where they ask specifically for any jobs where I have been fired, or mutually let go of for any reason in the past five years (this is for a government position).


How do I explain what happened? In being honest, I just don't know how to say in words that I got the position and was excited but then to find out that I would be transporting kids to the emergency room; and then dealing with tense parents for stitches talking to them on the phone; or watching a counselor vomit due to heat exhaustion; or having a girl with a high fever stay in our residence because her parents did not want to pick her up and have to pay for a babysitter; or dealing with just germs on a constant basis was just not my thing.

Since I worked there for a short term - should I leave this off my resume completely? Or should I just keep this on my resume because it does relate to my career goals and explains a time gap?

Any advice on this, I'm stuck -- would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Although I enjoyed working with kids and helping others, I did not enjoy seeing kids vomit or dealing with nose bleeds" -- I think you can pretty much just say this (leave out the the part about the diarrhea!). Plus, it doesn't really sound like you got fired, it sounds like you quit.
posted by rossination at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be clear - I don't mean including the explanation on the resume itself, but that's what you could say in an interview situation.
posted by rossination at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2011


It sounds like there's a pretty straightforward explanation: although you were excited about the position initially, and liked the "on paper" description of the job, the reality of it was much different and after a brief trial period decided it wasn't a great fit.

If it was only 2.5 weeks long, it might not be worth putting it on your resume at all; you should probably mention it in the list of "Jobs that you have left," but it sounds like you definitely weren't fired.
posted by verb at 8:34 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


You resigned. People do that all the time. Sometimes jobs don't work out for various reasons. It doesn't sound like you got canned.
posted by dortmunder at 8:35 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


It sounds to me like you decided to quit, then talked it over with the Camp Director. So it doesn't fit into the question IMHO.

Personally, I'd just pretend it never happened. The resume is a sales document. It needs to be truthful, but it does not have to account for every moment of your working life.

The only caveat t that would be if the government job involves a security clearance, go ahead and account for the two weeks on the application and just say the job was different that expected and not a good for fit you.
posted by COD at 8:36 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't even think it answers their question - you decided to leave and the Director talked through it with you. The question is concerned about whether you were asked to leave somewhere/essentially fired - it's not looking for a situation where you didn't want to stay and they agreed it would be fine for you to leave.

If it's going to stress you out, put it down and say that the job was different than expected and not a good fit.

On preview, what COD said.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:46 AM on July 8, 2011


You quit. It was only mutual because they nodded as you said you were going to quit. Leave it out.
posted by inturnaround at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was "mutually let go" from a position and its completely different from what you're describing. Its basically a euphemism for "we have no legal grounds to fire you but we want you to leave"
posted by missmagenta at 8:52 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


missmagenta has it.

You're fundamentally misunderstanding the "mutual agreement" scenario. That's a euphemism. It describes a situation where people are told either that they will be fired or they can leave as the result of a "mutual agreement." That's what this question asks about. Had your camp director sat you down and said, "Look, we're putting you on a bus back to civilization. It can either be because we fired you or because we mutually agreed that this was a bad fit. Your choice." then you'd need to disclose that. From your description, that's not how it went down.

I'd avoid saying that the reality of the job and your expectations of the job were different. If I were an employer, this would demonstrate to me that you didn't understand what you were getting into then, and from that I might extrapolate that you possibly didn't understand what you were getting into now. You should say you quit. Because you did.
posted by jph at 8:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, leave it off. You didn't mutually decide to leave, you decided and then after that (the timing is important) they agreed with you. You don't want to have to explain why you left because, frankly, your explanation sounds a little strange. The fact that you couldn't deal with sick kids and germs makes you sound a bit of a wimp to be honest and that's not the impression you want to give a future employer.
posted by hazyjane at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you've been asked to list all employment...government employers are usually more sympathetic to squeamishness than they are to not following application directions.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:28 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


honesty is the best answer, if you end up getting a clearance, it'll be disclosed, and you don't want to have to explain why something was left off earlier... further, if you do not disclose it, if you filled out a w2 paperwork, the clearance people will know you had worked there and ask about it.
posted by fozzie33 at 9:40 AM on July 8, 2011


As others have said, "mutually let go" is a euphemism for "we won't say you're fired, but you won't be working here any longer." It's also sometimes phrased as being "invited to submit one's resignation".

Choosing to resign, after discussing it with your supervisor, because you realize you're not well suited to the job is not the same thing.
posted by Lexica at 10:57 AM on July 8, 2011


I agree with the folks that are saying you quit, and you were not "mutually let go". If you want to mention it to be safe, state simply that you quit, and give the explanation: "Although I enjoyed working with kids and helping others, I did not enjoy seeing kids vomit or dealing with nose bleeds."
posted by Specklet at 11:44 AM on July 8, 2011


You decided to leave and the director supported you in your decision. You were not fired. So this doesn't go on the 'fired/let go' part of the form.
posted by Vaike at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2011


How about, "I resigned due to illness..."
posted by parakeetdog at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2011


Unless you enjoy being caught out as a prevaricator, you will follow the instructions in such a way that you would feel comfortable defending your response in front of a court. Not that it will get to that, but lean heavily in favor of disclosure.

Obviously the form is asking about "resignations" that were not really resignations. It doesn't sound like this is the case, but who can say how the director remembers the situation? Is there any chance whatsoever that they wanted you to leave before you realized it was a bad fit? Or that they would remember it that way? There is little to gain, and everything to lose.

I've interviewed people, and I wouldn't care about a summer camp job, no matter how short, but if someone decided to leave something questionable out, that would be a major red flag. No one will even notice.

Frankly, if you are considering government employment, the fact that you would even consider such a question may be a sign it's not a good fit. You are expected to conform to a zillion regulations, and I can't say that "Well, technically, that's what the form was asking, but it didn't seem like that was really what it wanted," would go over especially well with auditors and reviewers.
posted by wnissen at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2011


Frankly, if you are considering government employment, the fact that you would even consider such a question may be a sign it's not a good fit. You are expected to conform to a zillion regulations, and I can't say that "Well, technically, that's what the form was asking, but it didn't seem like that was really what it wanted," would go over especially well with auditors and reviewers.

Or you could look at it as the OP realizing they're not confident they understand the definition of the term being used and so asking for clarification (which seems to be how most commenters have interpreted it). Some people might consider the OP's asking for clarification instead of plunging ahead on the assumption that they understand what's wanted to be a sign that they would be a good fit.
posted by Lexica at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2011


You quit. The reason you quit is that it turned out medical work was not for you. (A nice way of saying you didn't like dealing with body fluids etc.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2011


Hi. A couple of weeks ago, I filled out my SF-85P form for a government position and just got my preliminary check completed. (I am in a "public trust" position, but do not need a security clearance.)

My understanding, based on having just filled out the damn form and pondering certain blemishes in my own background, is that unless the reasons for you leaving your summer camp job are materially related to the job the government has hired you for, your background investigator won't care.

HOWEVER, if you make what's perceived to be a misstatement on your application, and those misstatements are later found to be false, then you will wind up in a world of hurt that could ultimately result with your security clearance getting revoked. For security clearances, it is my understanding that people have had them revoked even if the subject matter of what wasn't disclosed wouldn't have affected the underlying clearance. In other words, it's the cover-up, and not the "crime" itself.

I think leaving actual employment (even for just 2 weeks) off of your clearance form would be a mistake. How you wind up characterizing your departure really depends on your comfort level with explaining it, and the level of scrutiny you expect to have. If you are applying for anything resembling a security clearance, the usual advice is when in doubt, err on the side of disclosure.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 12:20 PM on July 10, 2011


« Older Why don't I want to shower? Ev...   |  Weird Google Groups and/or Gma... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.