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08 Jun

I've been fired.... should I tell my next employer?

If you got fired from a job, how do you explain that to a prospective new employer? Is honesty the best policy?

Sometimes that floppy cross breed puppy you thought would grow to be the perfect lapdog, ends up 40kg with a seagull obsession and an appetite to rival a sloth of polar bears.    

Jobs can be like that. Occasionally, the fantastic new role just doesn’t work out like we hoped it would and we find ourselves back on the job market. 

Which brings up a sticky question: if you got fired from a job, how do you explain that to a prospective new employer?  

We advocate that honesty is always the best policy and being upfront will always serve you better than having it revealed later.  You want the opportunity to explain what happened on your own terms and that’s hard if such information is revealed once you have progressed through a recruitment process. However, the circumstances of your exit may vary and that should influence your approach. 

 “I didn’t make it out of probation”

Probation periods are designed to allow and your new boss to get to know each other and it won’t always be a match made in heaven.  If you are let go within the first 90 days, you could argue that your time with that company won’t have made much difference to your overall skills and experience, therefore, it’s not going to contribute anything to your resume. 

In an interview, when talking about your history, it is worth mentioning you had a brief stint at XYZ company that isn’t listed on your resume, but then move on to talking about a role you had where you did succeed.   

90 days...

Once you have worked 90 days for a firm, we would suggest adding it to your resume, especially if it was the last role you had. When Hiring Managers see a 3 month gap in your recent work history, they will want to know why. If it just happened, then losing 3 months in your work history makes it look like you’ve been out of work for a longer time – which is arguably worse. 

The good news is that after 3-5 years and once you’ve re-established yourself, you don’t need to list that unhappy time, as your new and current experience will speak for itself.   

“I was fired”

Whatever you put in your CV, must be accurate so if you list your reason for leaving on your resume, make sure it is accurate and honest. If you were fired after 90 days, we recommend listing your role at each company along with specific dates. Then be prepared to explain at an interview if asked....

And if you've fudged it, be prepared to come clean when asked once employed.

If it ‘didn’t work out’ during probation, that should be a fairly simple answer: typically, that the role wasn’t what you expected, there was an unfortunate restructure or that personalities just didn’t gel.   

However, if it was a more complicated situation, try role playing your answer with a trusted friend to ensure you strike the right balance of honesty with professionalism. A client recently withdrew an offer from a candidate who failed to reveal that they’d been fired for fraud in their last role and this was discovered during the Police Check.  Had the candidate been truthful when asked why she’d left that job, there is a slight chance she could have convinced the recruitment team that it was a one off, there were extenuating circumstances and that she could be trusted. Not revealing that critical piece of information ruined her credibility. Creating a nasty surprise for your new boss rarely gets the work relationship off to a positive start!

“Should I just say I was on a “personal break” to explain that gap in my resume?”

As with the candidate above, this is a common response Hiring Managers hear and it’s up to you if you want to chance it. Industry networks can be powerful and there’s a risk your mistruth will be discovered.  The smaller the industry.... the better known you... and your story are... So let’s face it, if you weren’t truthful about where you’ve been working/what you’ve been doing with your time, what else might you have not been honest about?    

For advice on how to ace an interview, including that tricky ‘why do you want to leave your current job?’ question, check out our Talent Propeller Jobs resources pages.  Good luck!