Do I Have to Say I Was Fired on my Resume?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I am in my last month of nursing school and have begun applying for jobs. Before getting the opportunity to pursue nursing I worked in the service industry specifically bartending at nightclubs. I was a lot younger and less mature, a whole lot less professional, and I ran with a "party" crowd. I made a mistake and got fired from a bar that I had worked at for like 4 years because I was intoxicated on the job. It was 100% my fault.

    It turned out to be one of the events that made me rethink how I was doing life, decide to go back to school, and eventually become a nurse. I look back at it and recognize the hard painful change I needed to get where I am right now, but I am not sure that future employers will see it that way.

    I was hoping you might be able to direct me to the right course of action when filling out these applications and doing interviews. I have read a lot of differing opinions online. I just was working on an application this morning and the options were "fired", "laid off", resigned", "asked to resign", resigned with
    notice", resigned without notice", and "walked out off the job". I think I fall into that "fired" category, but I am not sure if putting that down will completely take me out of the running.

    This is my first time applying to jobs at this level and I would welcome and appreciate any advice you could give me.

    Thanks so much for your consideration.

    Dear Do I Have to Say I Was Fired?

    I wish I could say just leave it off but computer applications force a response.

    Some would tell you to put other than "fired" but the risk is that you may be found to have falsified a job application if the employer checks your references and is informed that you were fired. (Seems like "terminated" would be a nicer choice).

    How much of a risk is it? Not much, but the consequences of falsifying an application are extremely high.

    The risk of being found out is not high because many employers nowadays will only provide dates of employment, and will not reveal that an employee was fired. But the risk is still there, and a bar doesn't always operate like a larger corporation.

    What are the consequences?

    It's possible that some employers have their applicant tracking software set to automatically reject any applications with "fired". Let's hope not.

    At the same time, many employers do interview and hire applicants who have been fired, knowing that it is not an indicator in and of itself of poor performance.

    When you are interviewed, it's best to not divulge details but merely to say "it wasn't a good fit and it was time to switch career tracks" and then segue to "I'm looking forward to starting as a nurse".

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Oct 30, '17
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

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  3. by   kclady
    I partially disagree. I have 4 years' experience as a nurses manager, that included interviewing and hiring.

    If it had been a significant nursing job that you were fired from that MIGHT create a problem, but even that might not. Most human resources departments don't give out anything except the dates that you were employed and sometimes the position that you held.
    The best way to proceed would be to make it clear you're only listing past jobs that are relevant to the one you're applying for. If you don't have nursing experience other than your clinical rotations, you might give a synopsis of what you did in the rotations that are relevant to the position for which you're applying.

    Had you been fired from a significant nursing job, the procedure would be to list the dates you worked there, what you did there, and not lie about why you left, but also not draw attention to it. Then you would need to find out what the past employer was going to say if they were contacted about your employment history. Do NOT ever draw a potential employer's attention to something negative that they don't need to know, but by the same token don't ever outright deceive them about something in your past.

    In rare cases where a past employer was giving out negative information that was unnecessary and inappropriate, other nurses have successfully put a stop to it by enlisting the help of an attorney. But I doubt that your situation is anywhere near that complicated.

    Most nurse managers are only interested in relevant experience when you interview for a nursing job, and being a bartender isn't relevant to nursing.

    Be sure your resume says, "Relevant experience" rather than "Work experience."
    Good luck and welcome to the nursing profession.
    Last edit by kclady on Nov 1, '17 : Reason: added something