you know, i was fired
October 3, 2006 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Can employers obtain a detailed work history analysis? What does this entail?

(Sorry if this is naive, but I've read conflicting advice.)

I haven't had many jobs and have been fired (due to ridiculous circumstances, of course). On applications, is it advisable to simply omit jobs where you've been fired, or not, because they'll find out and then know you're lying?
posted by deep_sea_diving_suit to Work & Money (11 answers total)
I reckon it's possible, but not likely for anything not requiring a security clearance.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:31 PM on October 3, 2006

Depends- is there a time gap that can't be explained away by something like school or military service (i.e. you had the job while you were in college, so if you left it off your resume, it wouldn't look weird)?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's better to leave them on the resume and just say something vague and bland like "It wasn't a good match," "It wasn't working out." Never use the F-word in an interview.

How long did you work there? Three months? Three years?

If your previous supervisor was a complete asshat who would be likely to badmouth you, just find somebody in the organization who will confirm names and dates. That's what they're supposed to do anyway.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:07 PM on October 3, 2006

assuming you're in the US. it's illegal for a prospective employer to inquire about anything other than did you work there between x and y times. that's not to say that more than that is said, tho :(
posted by missed at 12:28 AM on October 4, 2006

assuming you're in the US. it's illegal for a prospective employer to inquire about anything other than did you work there between x and y times.
This is simply untrue. It is illegal to ask questions with an intent to discriminate based on a protected class (age/race/gender/national origin/religion or disability). Furthermore, even asking a question about a protected class isn't in and of itself illegal, unless it results in discrimination. It is a bad idea to ask such questions because they might tend to imply discriminatory intent, but they aren't inheriently illegal. Asking you to explain a four year gap on your resume is perfectly normal and legal. An employer is perfectly free to decline to hire you because you don't like his football team or because you wear brown shoes or because you drive a hybrid. The law doesn't protect "anything other than work" it protects certain narrowly defined aspects of your personal life.
posted by Lame_username at 3:54 AM on October 4, 2006

Yes, this is a common misperception. What IS true is that many employers will refuse to give more than dates of employment when asked for a reference. This is a practice to protect from lawsuits.
posted by lunasol at 5:59 AM on October 4, 2006

Lame_username, I thought the same thing, that there were no illegal questions, only illegal uses of the answers, until yesterday, when a lawyer on another AskMe thread set me straight. Apparently, certain questions are, in fact, illegal to ask of a potential employee during the hiring process. I don't know whether that means it's also illegal to ask those questions of a potential employee's reference, but the guy who wrote that post would probably know.
posted by decathecting at 7:29 AM on October 4, 2006

Wait, you're not a writer, are you?

And as far as I'm aware there are illegal questions, at least in NH and VT. Like I'm not allowed to ask if you have a car, only if you have "reliable transportation to work".

As far as I know, your future employer can only get what you tell him, and what your referances tell him. Of course, that can be a lot, even if you don't say much.
posted by TrueVox at 7:45 AM on October 4, 2006

There are entire books dedicated to job hunting after being fired. Go to your local library or employment centre. Lots of people have recovered after suffering a similar injustice.

they'll find out and then know you're lying? - deep_sea_diving_suit

Lying? Leaving something off isn't lying. People leave stuff off all the time. I work in administrative jobs right now, but a few years ago I worked both in an admin job and part time at a gas station at the same time. The part time gas station doesn't add anything to my resume for the kinds of work I do now, so I leave it off.

If you leave a job off and show a gap, there is a good chance they're going to want to know what happened durign that gap. This is okay to do, but looks more like you're hiding something so be prepared for the questions.

Do not fudge the dates of your other employment or say you were unemployed then because that IS lying and if they find out different they won't want you.

So why not just include it in the first place and if they ask about the circumstances under which you left (which might not even come up) answer with something sufficiently polite and vague like Jason's Planet suggests: "It wasn't a good match," "It wasn't working out."

I reckon it's possible, but not likely for anything not requiring a security clearance. - Mr. Gunn

I'd agree with Mr. Gunn. If you need some sort of security clearance be complete and be honest because they have the means and the reason to check you out completely, and a firing may be overlooked but dishonestly likely won't.
posted by raedyn at 9:17 AM on October 4, 2006

Well, where I work they won't even consider your application unless you answer a question about if you've ever been fired or quit to avoid being fired. So if you run up against that, DON'T LIE. And we did interview someone who had been fired (didn't hire the person at the time, but they got hired elsewhere in the office later), so that doesn't always rule you out. The person we interviewed said "it wasn't a good fit."

Also, I was just asking my boss about calling references, and she said that she's been able to ask references about stuff like a person's attendance record- she said it was okay to ask those things. So I don't think it's always a question of "all they can ask is names and dates." I'd get a reference from someone in the organization that liked you, rather than whoever it was that supervised/fired you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:09 AM on October 4, 2006

For what it's worth, I just had to fill out an SF85P because my company is working on a contract for the Veteran's Administration. Among the questions were ones asking if I had been fired from any position or quit after being told I would be fired.

Can they find it out? I have a friend who likes to say "Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead." You usually have to assume that someone can discover something if they try. The questions to ask yourself are "how likely is it based on how hard I think they'll work" and "can I live with the repercussions if they find out I lied."
posted by phearlez at 1:26 PM on October 4, 2006

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