Re: Employment history low points

Subject: Re: Employment history low points
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 06:52:54 -0800 (PST)

Richard, you ask a number of good questions about how to handle the resume/CV when
you may have been fired from a past position. No doubt there will be a variety of
answers to choose from (or there would if it weren't the holidays here in the US).
So add mine the list as just another opinion.

--- Richard Goldberger <RGOLDBER -at- mobius -dot- com> wrote:
[SNIP to Questions]
> do you include in your CV positions from which you were fired?

Yes, I list on my resume an organization from which I was let go. I do not note in
my resume that I was fired. (Of course, I don't mention the years I worked for that
company either.)

> And if you answer that you don't present your resume chronologically, what
> about when your potential employer requests you to provide details of your
> previous 3 jobs in an application form, as is common in my experience?

Applications do present a chronological challenge. My experience is that they
generally do ask either details about all jobs ever held, which in my case goes back
to a gas station when I was a teenager, a LONG time ago. Even for the most recent
three, I find I can't remember some details. I DO provide employment dates on
applications, at least to the extent I can remember them. Sometimes it's just years.

<aside>The reasons I don't provide a chronological resume are twofold. First, I am
trying to avoid being 'screened out' on first reading because some young pup decides
I'm too old. Yes, even in the US we have anti-discrimination laws that include age.
I prefer to take a proactive approach and minimize the opportunities for people to
prejudge me based on an inconsequential factor, age.

Second reason is that I've worked in more than one profession over the years, and
even within my programming experience I've worked on so many different systems and
with so many different languages, that I don't really want to distract the resume
reader with information that isn't important to them filling the current position.

Those are my reasons for NOT using a chronological resume.</aside>

> Now I'm sure in some cases people are sacked because of personality clashes
> or other non-work performance related reasons, but what if (perhaps early in
> your career) you were given the boot because you genuinely screwed up a
> writing task? How do you get around this? (For the record, this has
> thankfully never happened to me!)

I'm not sure how true this is across the US, and I have no personal experience
working outside the US, but in Ohio an employer may only confirm that you worked for
them and the dates of your employment. So a prospective employer cannot legally
learn the reason you were terminated from a job. Often that is a matter in dispute
anyway, with one side seeing things one way and another seeing things differently.

If I'm asked why I left the company that terminated me, I answer that they were
downsizing at the time. (Sometimes I say they were reorganizing.) It happens to be
true, though it was not true in my case. (No, I won't go into specifics, but let's
say that I viewed it as a personality clash.)

Moreover--and I can't emphasize this enough--I NEVER denegrate a former employer. I
may choose to say nothing, but I don't say anything bad about them. I believe that
bringing negativity into the interview only hurts ME. I don't want to portray myself
as a malcontent.

If I were ever asked if I was fired from a position, I can say that I was not,
because technically I was asked to resign. I was given severance and even placement
help. (That's where I learned about the T-Letter.) However, that's not a question
I've ever been asked, nor would I expect to be asked it. (Again, it may be contrary
to employment law, either in Ohio or in the US, but I'm not sure.)

Everybody makes mistakes at sometime in their life. We learn from our mistakes if we
expect to grow, and I think mostly we do learn from them. Someone who is fired "for
screwing up a writing assignment," for example, but who then goes on to have a
productive writing career has certainly demonstrated that they've learned from their
mistake. I don't think one has to wear the hair shirt forever for a mistake. (But
then I'm the forgiving sort. <g>)

I think you can honestly say that you left to pursue other opportunities, or you
left in a reorganization. Those are true statements, at least as far as they go. I
prefer to be forward looking, and I think most people come across better in
interviews if they appear forward looking.

Tom Murrell
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com Last Updated 10/28/02
--First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.
Thomas a Kempis (1380 - 1471), 1420--

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Employment history low points: From: Richard Goldberger

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