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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

should I mention a job I was fired from after 6 weeks?

A reader writes:

I have a question for you regarding being fired. The quick setup is that after several years in my profession, I accepted a management position at an expanding organization. After 6 weeks, I was fired for "not fitting in." The meeting where I was fired was the first and only indication I received from my manager that my performance was anything other than exactly what he wanted.

I am not sure if I should put this position on my resume. I am actually proud of the work I did in that job but it's probably unwise to draw attention to the fact that I was only there 6 weeks. I understand that if I had to complete a job application where I verify all information to be complete, I would include it, but what do you think about putting the position on a resume? Would a resume that showed a six week position as the most recent position pass your initial scan of resumes?

Don't include it.

Here's what goes through my mind when I see a six-week stint: "Is this ... six weeks? Was she fired? Did she quit before even giving it a chance? Why is this even on her resume?"

If the rest of the application is good, this wouldn't stop me from doing a phone interview, but it would absolutely be one of the questions I'd ask early on. And so then we're talking about you being fired, which isn't something insurmountable, but it's really not worth taking the hit when you could have avoided the whole conversation and concerns it raises. It's like deliberately putting a typo on your resume -- there's nothing good that's going to come of it.

Also, six weeks isn't long enough to have meaningful accomplishments of the sort that belong on a resume anyway. So there's nothing here to be gained. Don't include it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for answering my question. It's helpful to have an informed (and unbiased) opinion.

Neil said...

I have two followup questions to this article. I found myself in a similar situation, but in my position, I joined a startup company as one of two commissioned sales people after seven years of continuous gainful sales employment. Our pay was 100% commission based.

Well, after four weeks of operation, myself, the other salesperson, and the company founder / president of sales had not yet made a sale with not even a whiff of a legitimate or interested lead. As a commissioned salesperson, toughing this position out in the long-term was a questionable proposition since there was no base (which I agreed to based on the business projections during the interview - I'm a big boy and I have to accept responsibility for that,) and therefore no paycheck coming in.

Thankfully, the decision whether or not to resign early and cut my losses was made right away when the company founder pulled the plug on operations in the short term and agreed to serve as a reference should it become an issue in a future job interview.

I have two questions. Because this was such a stint, most HR people I've discussed this situation with agree with you to leave it off the resume. However:

a - many online job applications ask for a "reason for leaving." I would think that if my previous job lasted from May 2002 to May 2009, while technically correct that the reason I left was to seek a new opportunity, in theory a competent hiring manager might think I'm saying that as a smokescreen. After all, why would anybody leave a position in this economy to seek a new opportunity without having one lined up? Regardless, I would guess "sought new opportunity" is the best answer to put in these blanks, but I'm interested in an authority's opinion.

b - as an extension of the first question, I'm sure this discrepancy will rear its head in future interviews. My guess is that attempting to explain this series of events as concisely and matter of factly as possible, acknowledging the "wishful thinking" fallacy I committed would be the most adroit way to handle this in an interview setting. Of course, this may make the hiring manager question why I left this position off a resume.

Again, my guess is that my exemplary performance (saved those sterling documented performance reviews!) at my previous employer along with seven years of continuous tenure and capable references should be enough to establish that my story has credibility. But, like I said before, I'm interested in the opinion of an experienced hiring authority.

Neil James

HRD said...

I agree, don't mention it. Although as a caveat, if you are asked in interview about that period of time, don't lie. Otherwise you could find yourself in a sticky situation.

At least at that point you can explain the situation in more detail.

Anonymous said...

What's the cutoff for the amount of time where this applies? Six weeks of inactivity may not look awful on a resume, but would eight? Ten? Twelve?

At what length does the "bad fit" and subsequent move to a different job become a suspicious gap if it's not on there?

jaded hr rep said...

I'd also chime in - yes, don't include it but think through how you would explain that job situation when a diligent recruiter asks you to walk through your time line of jobs/experiences and questions you about the time gap.