I was fired after six weeks. Do I tell potential employers?
November 15, 2013 6:41 PM   Subscribe

What started off as a good relationship with my manager soured after I was not living up to his expectations. More details inside.

I am a web developer, and a new one at that. I joined the company with the understanding that this is my first gig in this role after graduate school, and my manager would train me. Apparently I was not learning fast enough. To make things more difficult, my manager and I are located in two different cities, who communicate mostly over online chat and sometimes Skype.

After being berated by my manager for most of the week via chat, I asked to talk about my concerns regarding what's expected of me and how I was being treated. I explained my concerns, and we laid out a plan to get the ball rolling on better communication despite our location differences.

A few short hours later, another manager who is in the location that I work at, and loosely work with, explained that it was best that the company and myself to part ways. He also said feel free to reference him during my job search, and I interpreted it as a genuine offer.

So where do I go from here? I would like to have a reference from this employer, but working there for only six weeks certainly does not look good. Should I say forget the reference, and leave my brief stint off my resume? My other concern is this is my only job since graduating in May. If I don't acknowledge it, that leaves a good six month blank spot on my resume. How would you proceed?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I personally would leave it off the resume. If you've just graduated, you can say that you were pursuing other interests before entering the job market. I think a gap between graduation and a job looks better than a six-week job.
posted by xingcat at 6:54 PM on November 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

Talk to the second manager and ask if you can describe your stint with them as a project-- that way you can keep it on your C.V. and the short-term nature of it sounds alright, especially since it's a first toe into the industry after graduating.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:17 PM on November 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would pretend it never happened. Why open this potential pandora's box of fail?
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:29 PM on November 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

I was fired after four weeks. I left it off my resume, and future interviewers assumed that it was part of the job-hunting interlude.
posted by melesana at 8:33 PM on November 15, 2013

I wouldn't put anything on my resume shorter than six months. If you're new to the field and you work on something absolutely astonishing for a short contract and part under good terms (i.e.: you're a contractor and it was the end of the gig), you might include it. If you were there for a short period of time and got fired, don't even mention it.

You're a web developer. Don't worry about a six month gap in your resume. Nobody's going to ask about that kind of gap shortly after graduating from college. If you have any personal portfolio to show off (You have your own domain and a website there, right?), use that instead.

"I'm really trying to learn web development at a much deeper level than I did in school." is all you need to say about that. If you're excited to learn new tools and technologies, you'll go far.
posted by phoebus at 8:42 PM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Resume? No.

On a job application which asks for a complete list of jobs? Yes. Reason for leaving: position ended.

It's a 6 week gig that you did right after college and no one is likely to question it. If someone does ask, then you give positive answer. "It was a good opportunity to apply my web development skills. Glad I had an opportunity to work in my field even if it didn't evolve into a long-term job."
posted by 26.2 at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Leave it off the CV, 6 weeks isn't worth it and you will need to explain it.

Also - pretty horrible method starting your new career. Next time try to get face to face communication with someone who is meant to be showing you the ropes.
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 9:59 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could easily have been on holiday for 6 weeks. Leave it off, the gap is not even noticeable.
posted by dave99 at 12:04 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Next time try to get face to face communication with someone who is meant to be showing you the ropes.

By all means leave off your CV. You were travelling, helping somebody remodel something, stacking shelves at the supermarket whilst job searching or whatever. But take this key point away from it.

From the manager's perspective, it can be frustrating to coach very new people face to face, purely because you have a lot of other commitments and it can be difficult to dedicate as much time as a very new person needs. But to do it remotely is generally a nightmare. This is not generally the fault of the newbie or the person doing the coaching, the process just does not lend itself to remote working.

When you are close to people you can sit down and have a much easier time briefing people about tasks. They can see what you see when you set them up. Then, when they have questions, you can normally diagnose the problem very easily, as long as you can see what they are doing and seeing.

If you're not close to people and you have to start to go down the mental checklist of everything that could be going on and ask questions to pin it down. At which point the newbie generally does not have the vocabulary, be it technical terms or how language is used in the organisation, to understand your question (fully) or to answer it clearly or concisely. They then either answer the question they understood, or don't admit they don't know what you mean, or they start to discuss what they think the problem is, instead of answering your question. It can be exceptionally difficult to get people to simply answer the question you asked them…the whole thing is starting to take much longer than it should, you have 50 other things you're meant to be doing, and you keep frustrating the hell out of one another as a result and it spirals.

So you probably didn't do anything wrong - it's probably not about not learning fast enough or not meeting the guys expectations. He just realised the set-up wasn't working and upon consideration decided to pull the plug.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:57 AM on November 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

I agree, leave it off. These days, a six month gap isn't that big a deal, especially if you have a halfway reasonable explanation. (And being on vacation would not be one in my books.)

And consider: if you put it on your resume and get an interview, that means you'll be spending time explaining what happened, when you could be talking about things more relevant to the position you want. It would be an automatic stumbling block, one that you may or may not get over. Why risk it?
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:58 AM on November 16, 2013

I'm not sure what you mean by a "reference from this employer". Granted, I'm not a web developer, but the only kind of references that I've needed in a job search have been (a) personal letters of recommendation from managers or professors, and (b) confirmation references from HR, in which someone calls up the company and says "Can you confirm that anonymous worked there? Can you tell me anything about the employment?" and HR says "for liability concerns, I can only tell you that anonymous worked here from Sept 28 2013 to Nov 10 2013."

I definitely wouldn't use you actual manager as version (a); unless you really feel the local manager is 100% in your corner, I wouldn't use him either. Offering letters of reference is something people might do when they're feeling guilty over actions of someone else in the company, but actually writing a good one might be difficult unless he genuinely had no reservations about the work you were doing.
One thing you could do would be to ask for a generic letter of recommendation, "Just write me a general letter that I can put in my personal files and use when I'm looking for future development jobs, that way I won't have to call you every time I apply for something." Then you can steam the envelope open and take a look, and be sure it's something you feel like sharing. Or best case scenario, he'll say, "I'm really busy, why don't you write something and I'll read it over and sign it."

About reference type (b), is the company large enough to have an HR office? If so, that's great, ask them what their policies are when someone calls up to confirm employment, and ask what they would say about your time there. If they're allowed to classify that job as "terminated with cause", I would sweep the whole thing under the rug and never mention it. If they say they'll only confirm dates, that's good. If they say they'll call it a short-term contract or a temporary project, or something else that puts you entirely not at fault, go ahead and list it. List it on the resume and when employers ask you about it in interviews, phrase your termination however you want (they were trying out a remote-manager system and it didn't really work out)(I was very excited to work on this project in the corporate world and it's too bad it didn't work out long-term.)

That's all completely aside from the question of whether a 6-week project would make you resume stronger or weaker. Other posters have pointed out how it could be a decoy and waste of time (see Short Attention Sp) but your original concern was that this is the only job you've got right out of school, and you'd like to show you've been employed in the field. So obviously, it's a matter of opinion, and how you spin the rest of your resume.

Personally, my gut feeling would be to include it now (if it looks like you need it to get your next job, and if the official HR version isn't negative) but once you've had a second job in the field, I'd strongly consider dropping it, and having a few-month gap.
posted by aimedwander at 5:44 AM on November 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

"once you've had a second job in the field, I'd strongly consider dropping it, and having a few-month gap."

Good post, aimedwander.

The OP needs to be careful about making sure any linkedin page follows suit. Coordinated, etc. Also, be aware that companies applied to in the meantime may keep the resume on file. So it may not necessarily be easy to erase the history. Also check to see if the previous job comes up on google searches of his/her name.
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2013

That was a shitty temp job you had and NO I would not use that manager as a reference. Who needs any whiff of fail from a potential reference? If you learned something cool, or got some different experience from it, you can mention it in passing at a job interview, but it does not need to live on your resume.

"Yes, I used that software on a project I did for XYZ company." That's it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Firstly, really sorry to hear your bad news.. that stuff can really knock your confidence - especially when just starting out and the Manager sounded like an a.hole who was very bad at their job and should have supported you to develop.

My situation wasn't quite the same - but I worked as a temp in my profession for many years. Though I am very skilled there are different areas to it that I am not confident in. To cut a long story short - one role was a unit run by an evil bully who honed on in my skills deficit/repeatedly told me I was crap etc and I really was a wreck. That said.. I kind of surprised myself and left after a week saying I wasn't prepared to work for a bully (been there). This had a certain dignity and honesty to it but then I was stressed about my resume. I was honest with the temp agency (and it had only been a week) and they said just leave it off.

I am inclined to agree with a previous poster re: using whatever you have learned whilst there - but perhaps that could get incorporated into your personal statement or something instead of listing the actual post. If your ok with white lies you may be able to wing it.. but personally I'd be really stressed about the risk of tripping myself up if they probed further.

Lastly.. you may find yourself a little nervy/second guessing around your next boss... maybe think about practicing dettachment / meditation or reading up on transactional analysis to ward off an emotional response to them in tricky situations (which can be quite subtle but can be honed in on by less than great Managers).
posted by tanktop at 10:23 AM on November 17, 2013

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