If I'm fired, can I exclude it from my resume?

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If I'm fired, can I exclude it from my resume?

Dear Nurse Beth,

I nodded off on my job and the clients family reported me as sleeping. I was removed from the case and most likely will be fired. Where do I go from here. Should I exclude this on resume?

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,215 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Reported,

I understand that you're facing a challenging situation. If you were removed from a job due to nodding off and being reported for sleeping, it's important to approach your next steps thoughtfully. Here are some suggestions on how to handle this situation:

  • Take some time to reflect on what led to the incident. Understand the factors that contributed to your fatigue. This reflection can help you identify areas for improvement and strategies to prevent similar incidents.
  •  If your employer has not yet decided on your employment, consider discussing the situation with them. Explain your perspective, take responsibility for your actions, and express your commitment to improving and providing better care in the future.

To include or not on resume

When deciding whether to include this job on your resume, consider the context and the position you're applying for.

If this was a short-term role and you have other experiences that are more relevant to the position you're seeking, you might choose not to include it. 

However, if you decide to omit a job from your resume, you might be questioned about any period of unemployment. You should include any position you held for a year or more because having a long gap in your work history could potentially lead to you being disqualified.


Your resume should be positive. Do not indicate that you were fired on your resume. Being honest about your end date is important, as it can be easily verified. Avoid adjusting the dates or indicating that you're still there.

Job application

You may be asked if you were ever terminated on a job application. If asked, simply answer "Yes". If the application requires an explanation, be concise but truthful. "I was let go for falling asleep on duty. I have since taken steps to ensure I am always alert on the job."

Speak with employer

It's common for companies to have limitations on what they can reveal about your employment history, usually sharing only dates of employment and job titles. However, they may disclose if you are listed as "do not hire." Speak with your current employer to find out what information they plan on sharing and if there's a way to avoid being labeled as ineligible for rehire.

It's worth having this conversation, as you have nothing to lose by doing so.

Prepare for Interviews

If the job is an important part of your recent work history, you should include it, but be prepared to address the situation during interviews.

Being let go (use the softer term "let go" rather than "fired") is not necessarily a deal-breaker when landing a job. How you discuss it is what's important. It's a time to showcase humility and accountability. Hiring managers look for truthfulness in candidates.

  • Be positive. Be confident and mindful of your body language. Do not be ashamed. You have marketable skills and experience.
  • Spend very little time talking about being let go. Be concise and segue quickly to your skills and achievements.
  • Never say anything negative about your former employer. "I'm grateful for my experience working for the company."
  • Practice how you will explain the incident, what you learned from it, and the steps you've taken to prevent it from happening again. By practice, I mean having your family or friends ask you, "Why were you terminated?" Repeat until you feel comfortable and polished.

"Unfortunately, during that time, I had significant challenges in my personal life that I needed to address. I allowed those problems to affect my professional life and performance at work. However, being let go gave me the time to seek support and overcome those challenges, so I am now prepared to devote myself to my work fully."

  • Focus on your growth, dedication to patient care, and commitment to improving your performance.

 Regardless of whether you include this job on your resume, emphasize your qualifications, skills, and positive attributes that make you a strong candidate for the positions you're applying for. Showcase your experience, education, certifications, and other relevant skills.

  • Reach out to colleagues and supervisors who can vouch for your skills and work ethic. Having positive references can help mitigate any concerns potential employers might have.

Everyone faces challenges in their careers from time to time. What's most important is to learn and grow from your setbacks.

Very best wishes,

Nurse Beth

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