How to Disclose a Job Termination

Avoid using the word 'fired' on your resume or application.
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Looking for another job after being fired isn't likely on your list of fun things to do, but it's necessary to get over this hurdle. Being fired might have left you feeling hurt, angry or defensive -- all legitimate responses. But, those emotions won't serve you well when you contact prospective new employers. Don't lie about the issue, but put the best light on it you can if it comes up. Put on your best cheerleader smile, don't trash-talk your former employer and learn from what happened so you can move ahead in a new position.

Step 1

Negotiate with your former employer, if possible, about what she will say to a prospective employer who contacts her about your history at her company. For terminations outside of your control, such as when a company lays off personnel or moves jobs overseas, ask for a positive recommendation. If you were fired for cause, try to reach an agreement that she'll only confirm the fact and dates of your employment. While you can't prevent her discussing your firing with a prospective new boss, do your best to mitigate the fallout by trying to know what she's likely to say.

Step 2

Update your resume to include your most recent job, unless it only lasted a few months. Don't use the words "fired" or "terminated." Instead, simply list the job, along with the start and end dates, just as you do for the other jobs you've held.

Step 3

Answer a prospective employer's questions honestly. You're not required to volunteer negative information, but if he asks why you left your previous job, don't make something up. If he checks with your old company and finds out you lied about being fired, you've killed your chances of getting a job at the new place. Some terminations are simply a matter of economics and don't necessarily reflect poorly on you, so don't be afraid to say you were laid off or a victim of company downsizing, if that's really the case.

Step 4

Discuss your situation briefly and honestly if you are pressed. Focus on the things you did well at your old job and on what you've learned from the experience. Don't badmouth your old supervisor or company, or you'll leave a prospective employer fearing you might do the same to him. Instead, indicate how you've grown from the experience in terms of identifying more effective ways to approach work-related problems.

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