I was recently fired, and I’m finding it tough to answer questions regarding my unemployed status to potential employers.
I worked for my last company for 10 months. My numbers were high and my clients had only positive things to say regarding my service to them.  I always knew that there were some issues with my fit in the company culture.

Out of the blue i was asked to meet with my line manager and his manager for a drink one evening at the hotel they were staying at. I met with them and they were extremely awkward and i knew that something bad was coming. They said that I was being asked to leave the company effective immediately and that i would be paid 3 months salary. I asked what the reason was and both guys eye-balled each other and didn’t reply.

So I wished them well, asked for a good reference from my line manager, and I walked out.

I have been in touch with some potential companies and some headhunters with regards to new possible positions and the first question that always comes up is “why did you leave your last position after such a short period of time?” With some headhunters I have been honest about what happened in the hopes that they may be able to offer some advice from their expertise but most of them just say that they will find it hard to place me in a new position.

One head hunter advised me to say that my role with the last company was a “set up” role where I was employed for one year to establish the brand in the market using my industry links, marketing skills and product knowledge and that I was now free to pursue other options now that the set up was established.

Do you have advice on how I can overcome this hump?

3 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    The advice you got from the headhunter is right. The story about you being fired and them not telling you why you were fired and paying you for three months to get you out: very bad story for you. Makes you look terrible because it looks like they hated you so much they were willing to lose sales and give you money to get you out quickly.

    You need to tell people you did what you were hired to do and the job ended. That’s a better story. And it’s also a true story. There are many truths to the same story. That’s a really important thing to remember when you describe your career– any part of your career — to someone.

    (For those who are wary of changing up their story, here’s a post about seeing your career as having multiple truths:
    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/10/05/resume-advice-you-never-hear/)

    Another thing you could do is leave the job off your resume completely and say you have been doing something else for the last year — you took time off to do something cool. Like, I don’t know, if you like sailing, just talk about sailing and make it like you wanted to take time off to just sail. As long as you can talk in an interesting way about what you have done for the last year it doesn’t matter that you weren’t working.

    What sounds best to potential employers is someone who is in control of themselves and their career and makes good decisions about their time. That’s why the story of taking time off works well in an interview.

    Penelope

  2. KJ
    KJ says:

    Wouldn’t the job show up on a background or credit check? Or have to be disclosed on a “paperwork” job app once you have the job?

  3. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    It doesn’t matter if the job shows up. You are not under any legal or moral obligation to tell a potential employer about everything that has happened in your life. At any given moment in your life tons of things are happening at once. A resume is a snapshot of a few of those things — in the best light for you getting a job.

    Any employer who is doing a background check to piece together every year of your life is a nutcase. They have better things to do. You don’t want a job from a person like that.

    Penelope

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