Screwed up, what do I do?
July 23, 2007 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I completely screwed up on my last job, and got let go. What do I tell prospective interviewers?

Long story short: I got let go because the boss checked my computer and found I was spending way too much time surfing the internet (including, occassionally, porn). That, and a few other things I had been warned about - messy work area, procrastinating on certain tasks - but the porn was the deal-breaker. I'm being treated for ADD and OCD, and this was a motivation to change my psychiatrist, redo my medication regimen, and change my life in certain other ways. But noone where I last worked (for 6 years) will give me a recommendation, though I have some from past jobs. How do I handle job seeking, interviews, etc.?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The things you're describing could easily be chalked up to a loss of morale. The mistakes might have been your own, but certainly there was something more to it than "I completely screwed up." People generally don't get fired from jobs they totally love. Try to get a handle on what your real problem with your old job was, and you'll probably have a decent answer for an interviewer.
posted by Gilbert at 11:11 AM on July 23, 2007

You were surfing porn at work? What the hell is wrong with you?

Ok, that being said, just tell future interviewers that you left to pursue other opportunities. Employers won't tell other employers about specific problems as it opens them up for litigation. They'll just confirm that you worked there.
posted by bshort at 11:20 AM on July 23, 2007

You worked there for 6 years, and can't find *anybody* to give you a reference? Yikes. Well, if previous references are still around, I'd say your best excuse is "My previous employer has a policy of not giving out references, either written or verbal, for legal reasons" - hopefully new employers will believe that, as in some cases it's actually true (my last company is an example of this).

As for why you left? It's not too hard to make up something plausible - "I felt like I was stagnating there." "The job changed focus away from what I was interested in" "I felt like it was time for a change" - those are all reasonable reasons for leaving employment, especially after being there for a long period of time.
posted by antifuse at 11:27 AM on July 23, 2007

Call your old supervisor/HR and ask that, if they can't think of anything positive to say about you, that they only give out your dates of employment. You might want to hint that litigation might occur otherwise - especially since your behaviour could be partly blamed on mental health issues. Having done that, try to dig up other references, not necessarily former supervisors. Are you sure you can't even find a colleague who is willing remember something good you did years ago at the job you were just fired from? Surely if you lasted 6 years you didn't spend the whole time looking at porn. Have you done any volunteer work? (if you haven't, it's something you could start doing now) Do you have any respectable older friends (doctors, teachers, whatever) who are willing to vouch for you? You f'ed up pretty badly, you might need to be willing to take a job that you consider slightly below your ideal for a while and work really hard at it to build up a good reputation again. And remember, there's plenty of porn at home.
posted by cilantro at 11:53 AM on July 23, 2007

concentrate on the things that sucked about the last job--but not in a negative way--"i didn't have enough work" or "i wasn't challenged."

be wary of employers that continue to dwell on this. i once had a great interview, and after being constantly asked about it in the interview, finally broke down and explained exactly why my last job was shitty. it really was, and i had many legitimate complaints, but it didn't matter. despite being well liked and received by the principle, i was shot down by hr ... for bad mouthing a previous employer. i don't put that job on my resume now--but i was only there for 7 months.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:09 PM on July 23, 2007

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