Create an Effective Resume Even If You Were Fired
People get fired from the job for various reasons. However, to a potential new employer it may leave an unfavorable connotation on the candidate.
If you find yourself in such a situation, you may have a number of questions concerning how to address the adverse reactions a potential employer may pose. You may have questions, such as:
- How do I impress an employer given I was fired from my last job?
- Do I include the job on my resume?
- How should I answer when asked the reason for departing my previous job?
Understandably, there are many questions on your mind. And yet, there are ways to be truthful in answering the questions your potential new employer may have for you, along with tips to make such a situation feel a little less threatening.
Essentially, before updating your resume for the next job opportunity, think about:
- Is the experience from your last position relevant to the one you are applying for?
If there is little to no relevance between the positions, you do not have to showcase it on your resume. The hiring company is primarily interested in relevant experience and skills you can bring to their company. You may be able to break your resume into Relevant Experience and Other Experience sections.
- How long were you in the position?
If you were in the position for only a few months, it may not be necessary to mention it on your resume. Determine if the gap of unemployment, should you choose not to include it, would be cause for concern by an employer. In today’s market, it’s not a surprise to see some candidates unemployed for a year before finding a new job.
- How severe was the cause for firing?
Were you laid off due to lack of performance or conditions outside of your control? If the latter, then you should put on the resume the reason such as “Major Downsizing”, “Company Relocated” or “Management Reorganization” all of which indicate that the termination was not due to your performance.
If the reason you were terminated was due to a minor issue that can be easily explained and seen from your point of view by a potential employer, than including the position on your resume should not be a concern. Be honest with yourself and think through your response to a potential interviewer.
Your answers to the questions above will tell you whether it is appropriate to include the job on your resume. If it is included, consider the following to help you through the application and interview process.
- List the job on your resume to showcase your achievements and accomplishments.
Your mission is to get your foot in the door for an interview and to make an outstanding impression. You do not need to bring up that you were laid off from your last job on paper, especially if you were there for a few years. If necessary, you will have the opportunity during an interview to explain further details.
- Don’t insult your past employer.
Even if you were fired and have bitter feelings toward your former boss or coworkers, this is not the time or place to reveal it. It is seen as unprofessional and leads to questions that focus on negative aspects. So, even if the interviewer wasn’t planning on asking you the reason for leaving, you may have just brought it upon yourself.
- Don’t lie about your employment.
If asked, you need to address the question truthfully, but keep it brief regarding the reason for your departure and move on to more positive points. At least you now have your foot in the door and have a greater advantage to explaining the reason for departure in a more positive light. You can also use it to your advantage to reinforce points of achievements and accomplishments that may apply for the job. Remember that companies do check references and background information. Any candidate caught lying is grounds for dismissal.
- Pull together your references.
Gather people you worked with on the job as references, whether it’s coworkers, clients or vendors. Individuals who worked with you on the job and who can speak positively about your work can help effectively rid any negative connotations associated with being fired. In this instance, it makes sense to include references with your resume, especially written recommendations.
- Reformat your resume to focus on function rather than chronology.
This is a last resort option. Functional resumes typically are not used since it lacks detail on dates of employment – information most employers want to know. A functional resume focuses on grouping specific skills and experiences together as the highlight of the resume. This type of format is also appropriate to use for the career changer and those with gaps in employment history that are due to other pursuits, such as education or family.
Being fired means you have an additional hurdle to overcome to find a new job, but it is not unsurmountable. It’s all in the way you handle yourself in addressing the matter if the subject comes up. Remain positive, address any concerns succinctly and honestly and then move on to the more positive highlights.