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Admit to Being Fired From a Job?

by Patricia
(Peoria, IL)

Mike-
Do you ever admit to being fired from a job? Is it true you are not suppose to say you are looking for a better job opportunity when you already have a job. How do you explain that there is not enough work on your job and you are bored. Thanks

Mike Petras comments:

Hello Patricia-

Thanks for your email. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

1. Admitting to being fired - There is no cut and dried answer to this question. As a general rule you want to avoid admitting you were fired, but never lie about it. Many times people are unjustly fired for all kinds of trumped up reasons, or they just weren't a good culture fit for that particular company and were "let go".

I was fired once in my career and was asked in every job interview how I lost my job. For a detailed explanation as to what I said and why, go to my web page: Why did you leave your last job?.

The best way to protect yourself is to be proactive with the company that fired you. Call or meet with the HR manager and ask them what they will say to prospective employers if they call for a reference.

Most companies today will not divulge any information about you to outsiders except your employment dates. If this is the case, you can put your own spin on your job loss without fear of your ex-company bad-mouthing you.

The reason most companies won't do references anymore is because they're afraid of a lawsuit. Several well known companies have lost these lawsuits because ex-employees have successfully argued in court that their ex-company was black balling them from getting a job and denying them a livelihood.

However, if your ex-company doesn't have this policy in place, you need to ask them if they would commit to only proving your references with employment dates. They will probably agree to this because they don't want to deal with the liability or aggravation.

It's easy for them to simply say nothing.

If you were fired for just cause (safety violation, not showing up for work, insubordination, etc.) you are better off admitting this to prospective employers, telling them what you learned from it, and vowing never to repeat the behavior; then, let the chips fall where they may. I know this is risky and could sabotage your job interview, but at least they'll know you're honest.

I know someone who was fired from a 20 year job because he showed up to work slightly intoxicated. He was out of work for an entire year, but continued to tell interviewers the straight up truth as to why he was fired. He was finally hired by an excellent employer who decided to give him a second chance. Because of his honesty, work ethic, and perfect attendance he received a pay raise and survived 2 major lay offs.

I know another person who was eagerly hired by a company who told him on his start date that he was destined for great things with them. Thirty days later the company discovered he lied about having a college degree, and despite a glowing performance report from his boss, he was promptly fired and walked out the door.

2. Better opportunity and job boredom - I would tell prospective employers you are quietly looking to make a change because you're not challenged at work. Share with them the work pace is very slow and you enjoy working in a fast-paced work environment.

Most companies today are operating with a minimal number of employees and expect a lot from their people. Your desire to keep busy and work hard will be music to their ears.

Also, job seekers who are employed are more attractive to prospective employers. So, they will probably ask you in your interview why you want to leave your current employer, but may not even ask you why you left your other jobs...unless you've changed jobs a lot.

Best of luck with your job search. Hope you land an exciting job soon.

Mike Petras


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Aug 19, 2014
Will Never Admit to Being Fired Again NEW
by: Anonymous

I just had a phone interview and blew it because, I believe, I was honest and admitted to being fired for being a few times late. It was a crappy college job which paid only 7 or so dollars and part of financial aid packaging. I noticed after admitting this to the HR recruiter, that the interview had gone wrong. She kept saying I don't have enough experience, which I do and had even worked for this company previously with good results and left on good grounds.
So now, despite my excellent honors graduation with a BS in Finance and all my hard work, I am told that I am not "qualified" enough for an entry level finance position for which any college grad with my credentials is qualified for. I asked her what I should do, should I apply for a teller and just start way at the bottom again, and she thought it was a good idea. I feel like someone spat all over me. All that debt, studying, honors graduation in finance, and I am now quaking in my boots in the hopes that some bank will have mercy on me and hire me as a teller. For what?! $10 an hour if I am lucky. People, do not admit to being fired if it wasn't serious, and do not go into debt to get a college degree and proving yourself by excelling, because it won't help you much if you don't know the right people. I don't have ANY one important to help me land a decent entry level finance job...

Apr 03, 2014
No way, choose your words carefully NEW
by: Anonymous

You don't have to volunteer too much information and never say "fired" you can say "separation" though. It is unlawful for Employers to ask if you were fired and why. Most applications ask "where you ever asked to resign?" That is normally only something that happens to corporate employees in middle management or higher, you don't see it in entry level. Employers can only ask verbally and on job applications: "what you reason was for leaving?" And you never ever write this on your resume. Your resume states you where you worked, when you worked there, what you did, skills, and schooling. If you only worked there a short time, a few weeks or few months, don't even mention it employers don't like to see prospects who "jumped around" unless its temp/seasonal/project and it was valuable work experience. If they ask to explain employment gaps and if it was not due to school, pregnancy, or any valid reason you can say, "I was in a position where it was healthy for me to take sometime to find my niche"

Instead of stating: "I was late"
State: "My primary shortcoming was my time management which I have since worked to improve."

Instead of saying:"I was bored and got caught surfing the web"
You can say: "I did not feel that position maximized my full potential and I was not provided enough work to fulfill my time"

Instead of saying "My boss/coworkers did not like me"
You can say: "The work environment was poor and it was not a good fit for me"

Also, can be vague and just use a few words such as "personal reasons" for me, that usually did not receive to much inquiry. It could be due to family, a relationship/marriage, illness, etc. If they ask, you can say, "I left because there was a work/life imbalance and you needed take sometime off to explore other options."

Furthermore HR can only verify employment dates, your duties, and if you are eligible for re-hire. Unless the company has a no re-hire policy or you did something terrible such as steal they usually say "yes." Your former employers/HR by law not allowed to speak poorly of you have been fired for being late and I usually was never more than 5-10 minutes late, if it was anything more than that I called. I have also, been fired with no real reason given after 8 months which is legal because most states are at will employment and you can be terminated for little or no reason at all. I suspected it was because my boss did not like me and said whatever he could to his higher ups. I had a feeling he wanted to free up some space another one of his friends. If you did not have a great relationship with your direct supervisor or he/she fired you, you can use other supervisors if applicable or even your supervisor's boss as a reference. You can use your peers you worked with as well if you ask them first and know they will give you a favorable reference.

Apr 03, 2014
No way, choose your words carefully NEW
by: Anonymous

You don't have to volunteer too much information and never say "fired" you can say "separation" though. It is unlawful for Employers to ask if you were fired and why. Most applications ask "where you ever asked to resign?" That is normally only something that happens to corporate employees in middle management or higher, you don't see it in entry level. Employers can only ask verbally and on job applications: "what you reason was for leaving?" And you never ever write this on your resume. Your resume states you where you worked, when you worked there, what you did, skills, and schooling. If you only worked there a short time, a few weeks or few months, don't even mention it employers don't like to see prospects who "jumped around" unless its temp/seasonal/project and it was valuable work experience. If they ask to explain employment gaps and if it was not due to school, pregnancy, or any valid reason you can say, "I was in a position where it was healthy for me to take sometime to find my niche"

Instead of stating: "I was late"
State: "My primary shortcoming was my time management which I have since worked to improve."

Instead of saying:"I was bored and got caught surfing the web"
You can say: "I did not feel that position maximized my full potential and I was not provided enough work to fulfill my time"

Instead of saying "My boss/coworkers did not like me"
You can say: "The work environment was poor and it was not a good fit for me"

Also, can be vague and just use a few words such as "personal reasons" for me, that usually did not receive to much inquiry. It could be due to family, a relationship/marriage, illness, etc. If they ask, you can say, "I left because there was a work/life imbalance and you needed take sometime off to explore other options."

Furthermore HR can only verify employment dates, your duties, and if you are eligible for re-hire. Unless the company has a no re-hire policy or you did something terrible such as steal they usually say "yes." Your former employers/HR by law not allowed to speak poorly of you have been fired for being late and I usually was never more than 5-10 minutes late, if it was anything more than that I called. I have also, been fired with no real reason given after 8 months which is legal because most states are at will employment and you can be terminated for little or no reason at all. I suspected it was because my boss did not like me and said whatever he could to his higher ups. I had a feeling he wanted to free up some space another one of his friends. If you did not have a great relationship with your direct supervisor or he/she fired you, you can use other supervisors if applicable or even your supervisor's boss as a reference. You can use your peers you worked with as well if you ask them first and know they will give you a favorable reference.

Apr 01, 2014
I was fired NEW
by: Anonymous

I was fired from a store after calling HR on my managers little sister after I saw her stealing (she worked at the store). I told my manager but she didn't do anything about it because it was her sister so I went to HR and it was suppose to be anonymous and the manager obviously put two and two together the next week she scheduled our monthly meeting on a Wednesday and I couldn't attend (before I was hired I told her I had school Wednesdays and she said it wasn't a problem and that she would never make me work a Wednesday) well that morning she called me about 15 minutes after the meeting started and told me I had to be there because it was mandatory I told her I couldn't come in because I had a test I couldn't miss the next day she called and fired me now I know she fired me for telling on her sister and getting her sister fired I tried to fight for the job but it didn't seem to matter how well I did my job. Now instead of explaining all of this to future employers in interviews I am looking for a way to explain why I was fired without sounding whiny or putting the blame on the manager. Any suggestions!? Please help I have a big interview on Wednesday and really want the job but know I'll be asked why I left my previous job.

Oct 27, 2013
admit to being fired
by: the cold hard truth

I blew a couple interviews being honest, I am done being honest about being fired.It was always easy for me to get a job before I was wrongfully discharged. Now I wondered why no one has called me I am glad to read real comments I have another interview coming up I am not going to fall for it this time. I have nothing to lose.

Oct 15, 2013
Advised, Keep your mouth shut!
by: Anonymous

I have been fired myself and now have somewhat of a job, just not enough. Anyhow, a friend of mine, whose friend's son was fired from a job. On the job applications, there is the check yes or no box question, "Have you ever been fired from a previous job?" Not wanting to lie on his application, he checked, yes. He got absolutely no invitations for job interviews. My friend found out that he was telling the potential employer via the application that he had been fired. He told him to knock it off! So the friend's son decided to lie on the application and check "No". He got invitations to job interviews and eventually got a job. My friend's wife used to work in HR. She told me that her managers told her that regardless of reasons, if they checked "yes" on the fired question box, their application was to be rejected. There should be a law that only allows to ask if you have been fired for a certain period of time, such as, say, "Have you been fired from a job within the last year or maybe two years?'Beyond that, even if you were fired from a previous job, then you should be able to answer "no" to the question without retaliation if you been fired longer than the time period. However, that is a pipe dream because regardless of party many politicians used to be business people, stick up for their own.

Aug 31, 2012
Being honest didn't work for me.
by: Anonymous

That's all fine and dandy if you did nothing wrong, but for people who made make mistakes, and work in certain fields, nobody will give you the time of day, so you HAVE TO lie essentially and say you weren't a good fit and decided to move on. I was honest and continued to get no's to the point a recruiter told me to just say I decided to relocate and that's why I left.

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