Got fired. Would like to list it on my resume in the future.
November 7, 2010 10:23 PM   Subscribe

Got fired. Can I list this relevant work experience on future resumes?

Keep in mind as you read this that in objective (as objective as I can be, anyway) retrospect, I strongly believe that I worked hard and did an excellent job.

I worked at a homeless shelter for two years (all of 2008 and 2009). I always worked the night shift, and for the most part, especially toward the end, I worked alone except for the residents.

At one point, I was working with a volunteer who later became a member of the board of directors. He was always telling me how he didn't think that they should be paying so many people to work the night shift when there were volunteers (such as himself) who would do it for free. We also had a clashing personality difference that was usually just under the surface: we put up with each other because we had to. About a month before I was fired, I worked a shift with him again.

Right before I was fired, I covered a shift on a day that I never work (I typically worked the same shifts every week) at the start of a new season when new rules come up. To make a long story short, I left after a 14-hour shift instead of staying overtime (this was a situation where normally they would call, but if I put 2 and 2 together I really should have been able to figure it out on my own, and when I left, I felt like something was off), and this inconvenienced some people (it worked out fine). This was the sort of thing - I discussed it with people who would be honest with me at the time, and they agreed - that typically you would get a "don't let it happen again" warning.

Given the discussion that I had with the director who fired me, and who never watched me work, I have reason to believe that I was fired because the volunteer on the board of directors pushed for it. This belief is also based on a discussion with a different director about finances and where their grant money comes from and can go.

That was all background. (I'm not interested in recommendations that I look into legal options.)

I am about to graduate from college with a Liberal Arts Bachelor's degree. I have been looking at a lot of jobs where the two years of experience that I had working at this shelter would be very helpful on my resume for getting salaried jobs. Are there circumstances in which it would be appropriate to leave the shelter on my resume? I know you don't have to explain why you leave a job on your resume, but if it came up, I wouldn't know how to succinctly explain what happened (and wouldn't they want to call and talk to my former employer?).

In case it's relevant, I'm in my late 20s. Thanks kindly for your advice.
posted by lover to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yes, leave the shelter on your resume.

I'm having trouble parsing what happened that caused you to get fired as you wrote it here, but how wrong would it be to say that you were let go because they were moving to a more volunteer-based system?
posted by Night_owl at 10:28 PM on November 7, 2010 [6 favorites]

If your work was otherwise exemplary, chances are that someone there in a position of authority is willing to provide a reference letter to you. Ask that group of people if they are willing to provide reference letters and/or a positive reference for you. If your assessment is accurate, chances are you will get one or two referral letters, and you can direct any inquiries to those people.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:39 PM on November 7, 2010

Best answer: You were there for two years. Definitely leave it on your resume. The volunteer isn't your contact, your manager is your reference. In all likelihood, you could probably go back and volunteer there if you really wanted. But, really, keep it on your resume.
posted by parmanparman at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'd keep it on your resume. Attempt to get a reference from someone in authority as PareidoliaticBoy suggests, but I doubt very many employers are going to care a whole lot about why you left your job at the homeless shelter after you graduated from college.
posted by zachlipton at 11:15 PM on November 7, 2010

Regardless of why you were fired there's no reason to leave it off your resume but as I understand your explanation - you were fired for not working overtime (that you weren't told to work) after a 14 hour shift?! There's no reason to say you were fired.
posted by missmagenta at 12:36 AM on November 8, 2010

Best answer: Leave it on. Although there are people like me who will call every company listed on a resume when I'm considering hiring someone, from what I've seen and heard, I'm in the tiny minority. Also, being fired from somewhere won't necessarily rule you out for consideration for a job -- when I do my thorough resume and reference checking, what I'm looking for is to see if the job applicant's story in the resume and interview matches what I'm able to verify elsewhere (i.e., is the applicant honest with me?), not that the applicant is a perfect person who has never had any problems ever.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:49 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with everyone who says leave it on and get in touch with someone there who will give you a good reference. If you're applying for a position in a related field they're going to know how admirable it is that you stuck it out for two years. That kind of job is insanely stressful and most people, especially people in their twenties, don't last nearly as long as you did. I hope you find a wonderful job.
posted by mareli at 4:31 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Was there a stated reason that you were let go? Is it in writing? Was 14 hour shift + ot on the same day a (normal) and expected behavior? Were you in a managing role? Were you paid hourly or salary? What are the labor laws in your state regarding shift length, breaks, and reprieve? It sounds like you were fired because management failed to fill a shift.

I'd leave it on, and I'd make sure that it was described by the shelter as "laid off" and that you had an exemplary letter of recommendation from them as well, because anything else - well - anything else and you could actually cause them trouble.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:25 AM on November 8, 2010

Best answer: Nthng everyone else about leaving it on your resume - you don't have to list on paper that you were fired, just worked from x to y with z responsibilities. When asked why you left the position, you can indicate either that new rules requiring overtime + 14 hour shifts forced you out, or that due to changes in budgetary rules you were let go. Do NOT indicate you were fired outright, this opens the door for you to talk about your previous employer and easily gets into rant-y territory. You basically don't want to give the new employer that you're a problem worker.
As for asking for references: also nthng what is being said.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:39 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Being fired and being let go are entirely different things. Some of the posters above don't seem to understand this.

I would contact your previous manager, explain that you are looking for work, but will be asked why you were fired and want to make sure your answer matches theirs. It's possible your manager will help you craft a statement that HR will support. Or, if you didn't get along with your manager, you may want to start with HR, explaining your concern. I've seen this work for other people in the past. Definitely talk with HR about the best way to handle this.
posted by xammerboy at 10:31 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

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