What do I tell future employers about having been fired?
November 15, 2004 9:13 PM   Subscribe

So I got fired from work last week. What do I tell future employers when they ask why I left my previous job?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you get fired for a reason - stealing, slacking, drinking on lunch - or because business wasn't exactly booming? Hopefully it's the latter, and you can say exactly that - "I was low man on the totem pole, and when the axe of slow economy fell, I got hit."
(Incidentally, I did all three of the former, but finally got canne dbecause of the latter.)
posted by notsnot at 9:22 PM on November 15, 2004

You'll know when to make something up and when to tell the truth. Usually it will revolve around how comfortable you are with the interviewer and/or how badly you want the job you're applying for. I've often found that I no longer want a particular job from the moment the interview starts... a gut feeling sort of thing ("I don't think I want to work here and wish I hadn't wasted my time coming to this interview", Witty thinks). At that point, I couldn't care less about the answers I provide. :)
posted by Witty at 9:29 PM on November 15, 2004

my condolences on your loss. I asked this question myself in the green once and got some pretty helpful answers.
posted by anastasiav at 9:39 PM on November 15, 2004

Approach your former employer and ask them what they'll say if someone calls and asks why you left (or, have a friend pretend to be that someone, and call them and ask why you don't work there anymore).

Probably, they won't even say that they fired you. So just say whatever you want and for contact info for that job, put someone who still works there who will give you a good rec.
posted by bingo at 9:41 PM on November 15, 2004

Also, if you were only there a short time (less than 3-4 months or so) consider not including them on your resume at all. One way to explain a gap is to say that you had to attend to family or personal matters or that you were going to start a business and then reality set in and you realized it wasn't going to work.
posted by stevis at 10:08 PM on November 15, 2004

If you can find a decent job in the interim with less chance for discrimination based on prior termination (i.e. at a bookstore, coffee shop, etc.) you could promote yourself as "currently employed" and attempt to dodge the "last employer" question as a result.
posted by Danelope at 10:25 PM on November 15, 2004

Ok, fess up... did you fuck up or not? If you're embarrased just say yes or no. In Oregon they can't tell the new employers what you did to get fired, they can only give the dates you were working.
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:56 PM on November 15, 2004

Best answer: Most large companies won't say that a person was fired or whether the person was a good employee or a bad employee. Your manager is most likely going to do what HR tells them to do, which at least where I work is say "Yes, so and so worked here from WW/XXXX through YY/ZZZZ".

Your co-workers are potentially a good source of references assuming you didn't get fired for inserting pointy objects in their backs. You can always have somebody call H.R. or your former manager impersonating a potential employer to see what they'll actually say.
posted by substrate at 5:08 AM on November 16, 2004

In many states, it is illegal to disclose personal information such as reason for termination. As substrate said, they will then simply say, "Chiababe worked for our firm from MO/YR to MO/YR and the last job title they had was (Insert Demeaning Job Title Designed to Prevent You From Getting Another Job Here)".
posted by benjh at 7:34 AM on November 16, 2004

Tell them you are still employed and that they cannot contact your current employer.

What's the big deal?
posted by eas98 at 7:46 AM on November 16, 2004

It would be helpful to know what type of work you did, how large the company is, and how long you worked there.

As others have said, most employers will not say that you were terminated. They'll only gives dates of employment and the position that you held. You'll want to check on this with your former employer just to make sure that's the policy.

How long you were there greatly affects what you should say in an interview. If you were there a short time, simply say that the position turned out to be not what you were hired for originally and you felt that it was better to find a better fit before you or the company invested more money in time in what would not be a long-lasting position. You could also say that although you were hired for a permanent position, it actually turned out to be temporary as the company did not anticipate its future needs well.

If you were at the company for 1+ years, you can tell a perspective employer that your position was eliminated due to reorganizing. Or, you could state that you went as far as you could in that organization and you're ready to take your professional life to a new level.

You want to emphasize that there were no hard feelings with your departure (even if there were).

One thing to keep in mind is if you work in a narrow field where people do a lot of networking, for example a non-profit, it is likely that a perspective employer will know someone at your last organization and the truth will come out, even if the employer's policy is to only give dates and position. If that's the case, you want to be very careful about "stretching" the truth. It maybe best to be very honest and say what happened, with little detail and absolutely no negativity. If you screwed up, say that you had no idea of the ramifications of your actions, but you have since realized consequences and you are ready to move on with a new lesson under your belt. Be humble. Be honest. Be upbeat. Be confident.

Although not asked, file for unemployment immediately.
posted by Juicylicious at 7:59 AM on November 16, 2004

Tell them you are still employed and that they cannot contact your current employer.

At my company, lying to us in the application process is a very easy way not to get hired (or fired if you've already been hired).
posted by blue mustard at 8:31 AM on November 16, 2004

At my company, lying to us in the application process is a very easy way not to get hired (or fired if you've already been hired).

Question is, how would you know? I ask in all seriousness. If I tell you that I'm employed, and that you cannot contact my employer, how would you know?
posted by eas98 at 11:44 AM on November 16, 2004

If I tell you that I'm employed, and that you cannot contact my employer, how would you know?

They would call the company and ask to speak with you. When the receptionist says "ummm, who?" they'll know that you lied.

Not contacting the company is for references purpose, not a simple check if you're there. Of course, they'd only do this if they suspected you were lying in the first place.
posted by Juicylicious at 11:54 AM on November 16, 2004

"Is AnonyMe eligible for rehire?"

The company I used to work for would volunteer this information about ex-employees and they would ask it in the background check for applicants. Their HQ is in California (with branches in the majority of the States), I have no idea whether this is legal in California or elsewhere.
posted by deborah at 1:04 PM on November 16, 2004

I've been part of two hiring processes where it turned out that applicants had lied, on their resumes, about their current employment. The applicants had, up to that point, been very close to being hired. They were promptly dropped from consideration.
posted by WestCoaster at 1:23 PM on November 19, 2004

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