career, interviewing, job search, recruiting

“I was fired from a job. Should I list it on my resume?”

In my past, I’ve worked with job seekers who were terminated from a previous employer. The most common question: “So, do I bother to put that work experience on my resume?”

Before I answer that, I ask a few questions. Like:

  1. When did the termination happen? If it’s more than 7-10 years ago, you’re likely okay to leave it off. Most employer background checks don’t go back more than 10 years–and your most relevant experience is likely to be newer than that cutoff.
  2. How long did you work at that employer? If it was only a couple of months, it’s unlikely that you did much that adds to your resume–and that short of a gap in employment is unlikely to raise a red flag with a recruiter. 
  3. Was the work experience relevant to the position you are seeking? If the answer is no, and the position was short term and/or was more than 7 years ago, you might consider leaving it off.

If the answers to the questions above are 1) Very recently, 2) A long time, and 3) yes, directly relevant–you absolutely need to include it. Some employers do employment verification that can flag work experience not included on a resume/application–you don’t want to run that risk.

How do you deal with it, though? First, if the position is within the past few years and the company is still in business, I recommend calling their employment verification department and asking what they will say about your exit. Many (if not most) companies only provide verification that you worked there, dates of employment, and in some cases whether you would be eligible for rehire. But they may be able to provide more details than that–so forewarned is forearmed.

If you are asked the “Reason for Leaving?” on a job application, and you know the company will state you were terminated for cause, I recommend stating you were terminated–would like to explain reason.

And by all means, spend some time coming up with a brief explanation that covers 1) the circumstances, 2)why you were terminated, 3) what you’ve learned/will do differently going forward. We’ll cover this in more detail in the next post.



2 thoughts on ““I was fired from a job. Should I list it on my resume?”


  1. Pingback: “So, why did you leave your last position?” If your answer is “I was terminated”… | Are YOU the Right Candidate? - April 17, 2013

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