The Globe & Mail: Nine to Five | Oct 6, 2019
I was recently terminated without cause from my job just before the three month probation period was up. I’ve never been fired in my career. I’m currently getting employment insurance from Service Canada but I am stressed by thinking how I will justify this termination to a future employer.
Please advise if I can strike this termination from my employment history and show this gap in upgrading IT skills. Is there some way my future employer can verify my termination/employment insurance if I don’t disclose it?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Greg Conner, Vice President, Human Resources, BC Transit, Vancouver
Let’s start with what not to do. I would strongly advise against striking the termination from your employment history. The issue is that if in the future a new employer finds out that you lied on your resume you can be fired on the spot, and you would also likely forfeit employment insurance benefits. You don’t need that hanging over your head. Also, a background check, which more and more employers are using, would show that period of employment, even if you didn’t.
So what to do? Since your termination was without cause, it was more likely a case of “fit” and so your application should just say job ended. Your cover letter is always critical and that is what gets you to the interview stage, so focus on your skills and experience, along with why the role you are applying for would be a great fit for you and the organization. There’s no need to mention the termination at that point.
It is very likely that in the interview stage they will ask about the brief period of employment, so be prepared to talk about what happened and what you learned from it. Keep it short and as positive as you can. I really think that most of us know when a job isn’t going well and it is not always your fault so remember to focus on that. I would assume you have good references from previous employers — rely on them and know that there is a perfect fit out there for you.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist, Toronto
I am sorry your probation period didn’t work out for you. There are no absolutes in life. Sometimes jobs do not work out and companies worth working for understand this. Be transparent and tell it like it is. Leaving out a job is not a crime or a lie, but it does not put you in the best light should it be unveiled. On your resume, state the name of the company, your title and the year on one line. Do not put months next to any years of employment for continuity. Do not use any accomplishment statements under that job.
In an interview, you can say the job ended, period. Be sure to prepare an explanation of why the job didn’t work out, to the best of your ability. When asked for references in an interview, provide tried and true references from previous companies.
Don’t make this a covert situation. Be as upfront as you need to be in your next interview. Your ability to exude trust and honesty is paramount. Be quick to mention what you have been doing while between positions with your IT training.
In the future, do more due diligence on the company before accepting a new job. Move on with determination. I always advise clients to take more into a new position than they left their last job with, and it sounds like you are doing just that.