Termination Results in Resume Gap


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Tasha writes: I have a question. I was fired last summer, but I don’t use my last employer on my resume so there’s a huge gap of employment and I don’t know what to put on applications for “reason for leaving” when really I was fired for a misunderstanding without opening a can of worms with an interviewer. Example of gap: 11-2006 thru 12-07 is my last employment history on my resume. I worked 12-07 thru 06-08, but I was fired and don’t use this employer on my resume. Can you give me a suggestion — please?
The Career Doctor responds: Yours is an interesting situation. Before I even get to the issue of the job you were fired from, let’s start with what you’ve been doing in the year-plus since you were fired. Have you worked at all during this time? Have you volunteered your services? Have you received additional education or training? You must find something to fill this gap — other than job-hunting or sitting home feeling sorry for yourself over being fired for some sort of misunderstanding. If you have not done anything — start doing something NOW. While a resume is a statement of facts, it is also a sales document — it needs to convince the prospective employer that you are worthy of an interview. And in my opinion, a short stint is much better than having a much longer gap on your resume. Regardless of the month, hiring managers will see 2007 and think that you have been out of work for two years and there must be something wrong with you. It’s just too long of a gap. You could consider using a chrono-functional or hybrid resume centered around skills clusters, but many employers favor the traditional chronological resume because it’s easier to find the information they need. As for job applications, simply put “left company” as the reason. You certainly do not need to go into any detail on the application. Again, the application is designed to weed out applicants, so it too is a sales document for you. Once in the interview, you may need to address the issue — so be prepared with a short statement about how you were fired over a misunderstanding, being very certain to address the lesson you learned from the experience so that you show a positive attitude and growth. Do not blame your previous employer or manager; accept your responsibility in the issue, but do not dwell on it. And don’t worry too much what this past employer will say about you. The one benefit of living in such a litigious society is that most employers are very unwilling to say anything too negative about current or former employers for fear of being sued. Finally, it sounds as though you are having a hard time rebounding from being fired. If so, consider getting some sort of career counseling to deal with these feelings. You might also benefit from my article, Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth, published on Quintessential Careers.