Getting fired or laid off from a job can certainly be discouraging. It can also be challenging to figure out how to list a job on your resume that you were fired from, or if you should even list it at all.
Should you list a job on your resume that you were fired from? Yes, you can list the job. However, it is not the best practice to write that you were fired on your resume. This is better suited for the interview process.
Many factors go into this, and there is also a lot of other information that you need to consider. There are differences between being laid off and getting fired when it comes to telling your potential employer about it. There are also various tips on when you should list the job on your resume at all — I will help you out with all of this throughout the article.
Listing a Job That You Were Fired From
As I already said, it is not necessary to list that you were fired from a job on your resume. Many factors will go into whether you even include that job on your resume at all.
Additionally, contrary to what you probably believe, many employers won’t automatically view a job firing as an entirely negative thing. Of course, it won’t be favorable to them either, but they understand that there are many reasons why someone may have been fired from their job.
When it comes to a job interview, you need to be prepared for the hiring manager to ask about why you left a previous job. And you most certainly should be honest about the fact that you were fired. However, you shouldn’t bring it up on your resume, simply because there is no reason for you to.
When listing your job experience on your resume, it only needs to include your start and end date, as well as a summary of what your position entailed. It does not need to include the reason for your employment termination.
When you list jobs that you were fired from, be sure to focus on what you gained from the job. You don’t need to draw attention to the fact that you were fired until you are specifically asked about it.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Listing the Job
Before you go through with listing the job that you were fired from, there are some questions that you should ask yourself. There are several reasons as to why it would be okay to omit a previous job from your resume, as well as several reasons as to why you should not.
1. How Long Were You There?
This is arguably the most important factor that you should consider when deciding whether or to put a job that you were fired from on your resume.
One factor that many employers and hiring managers will view negatively is a gap in your job experience. Even if you have a solid reason for the gap, they have no way of knowing that until speaking to you about it. But in this case, your resume may go straight to the “reject” pile before you even have a chance to explain yourself.
If you only held the job position for a few months, then it’s most likely okay to leave it off your resume. For example, a position held for a few months is more than okay to omit, but you may want to think twice before leaving off a job position that you held for a year or more.
The reason for this? For starters, this will prevent a gap in your job history. More importantly, even if you were fired or laid off, a year is more than enough time to gain knowledge, experience, and skills in a job position. This leads to the next question that you should ask yourself.
2. Did You Gain Relevant Experience?
Next, you should consider whether you gained new skills at this position that will be relevant to the job that you are applying for. When you’re thinking about this, do your best to not consider how long that you held a position.
Let’s say that you only held this job position for three months before being laid off or fired. However, you went through training sessions or online courses that will benefit you in the position that you are currently applying for. In this case, you should include the job on your resume.
Again, you do not have to include that you were laid off or fired when listing this job on your resume. Just be sure to thoroughly explain the skills that you gained during your employment.
3. What Was the Cause For Your Firing?
The final question that you should consider is how severe the reason was for your firing.
Was it out of your control? In other words, were you laid off? If so, then you certainly may include the job on your resume. In this case, you could even include the reason for leaving if you truly want to.
However, if you were fired due to personal performance issues or something that a potential employer may view negatively, then you should leave the reason off your resume — and possibly the job itself, too.
When Is It Okay to Omit a Job?
When it comes to Resume 101, it is not necessary to include every single job that you’ve ever had on your resume. However, if you choose to leave any off, you should be prepared for a potential employer to ask you about it if they discover it on their own. This is especially true if it leaves an employment gap in your job history.
Jobs Not to Include
Again, you don’t have to include every job position that you’ve held in the past on your resume. This is particularly true for past jobs that have no relevance to your current career. For example, a high school job as a cashier at your local grocery store does not necessarily have relevance to someone who has gained experience in accounting since then.
A resume is essentially a summary of your work experience and education. For some people, if we included all of our experience, our resumes would be 5+ pages long. This just isn’t attractive to potential employers — they won’t want to read through all of that.
If you have a lot of work experience, the general guideline that you can follow is to include the last 10 to 15 years. However, if you have experience from before then that is relevant — include it.
Getting Asked About a Job You Left Off
If you do choose to leave a job off your resume, then you need to be prepared for a potential employer to ask you about it. Leaving the job off your resume does not automatically erase the job from your past. An employer may find out about it through a background check.
So, how should you handle being asked about this? You can simply say that you left the job off of your resume because that position is not relevant to where you currently are in your career.
Additionally, you can say that you held the position to generate some cash flow while you searched for a job that was more appropriate for your career (such as the job that you’re currently interviewing for).
Short-Term Jobs vs. Long-Term Jobs
I touched on this previously, but you need to consider the differences between omitting a short-term job on your resume vs. omitting a long-term job.
If you’re considering leaving a short-term job off your resume that you were fired from, there are a few things that you need to consider. The most important would be if it gave you relevant experience in your current field. If so, then it may be worth keeping it on your resume.
However, if it was a job that just helped to pay your bills and did not give you any relevant experience, then it is most likely okay to leave it off.
It’s also important to consider the exact length of time that you held the position. If you held a position for less than three months, then it will be relatively simple to justify why you left it off your resume — especially if it didn’t give you relevant experience. However, if you had a job for longer than that, then it may be more worth it for you to include it on your resume.
When it comes to omitting a long-term job from your resume, it can be more challenging. It will require a lot of thought from you.
If you choose to leave a long-term position off your resume, then chances are that you will end up with an employment gap in your job history. You will end up having to explain this to your employer anyway, so it may save you some trouble by just including it on your resume.
What About Old Jobs?
Finally, it’s generally easy to justify leaving an old, short-term job off your resume. If your more recent job history (the last 5 to 10 years) includes relevant, consecutive, and successful job positions, then your employer most likely will not be worried about a small gap in employment from a long time ago.
What About the Job Application?
Of course, the job application itself may be a different story. Most of them will ask for a brief reason as to why you left each job.
Here, it is acceptable to simply state that you were “laid off,” “terminated,” or even that the “job ended.” In fact, this is what I recommend. The goal of a job application and resume is to get an interview, and you will be far better at explaining the situation in person rather than on a piece of paper.
How Should I Handle the Job Application?
Keep in mind that your resume will be different from a job application. A resume is a document that you create yourself, and there is not much that is required for you to include (unless it is a federal resume for government careers). There are no employment laws that require you to include specific work experiences.
However, a job application is different. Sometimes, job applications will indicate for you to include all of your recent work experience. If it says this, then you should do your best to include everything — including jobs that you were fired from or were short-term.
If you omit anything, then the employer may see that you withheld information when they do a background check. This will reflect negatively on you. Keep in mind that you should be ready to explain why you didn’t include a job if you are asked about it.
How to Handle the Firing in an Interview
Regardless of whether you include a job that you were fired from on your resume, there will most likely come a time throughout the interview process where you have to explain the firing.
Keep in mind that employers typically understand when they see a less-than-perfect job history. In today’s world, it’s rare to see someone that stays with a company from the beginning of their career to retirement, and employers typically understand this. However, they will want to see you explain any terminations in employment.
For starters, as I have suggested before, do not mention the termination reasons on your resume. You will be able to explain the situation much better in-person rather than on paper.
Second, it’s crucial to be honest about the termination. For example, when listing the job on your resume, do not say that you are currently employed there. You will inevitably have to explain yourself later in the interview process, and a potential employer may get the impression that you intentionally misled them. This will not have a good outcome for you.
If you were laid off from your position rather than fired, you can always mention it in your cover letter. Employers are generally understanding about layoffs because it wasn’t your fault. Monster gives an example of what you can say here:
“As you may have read, (company name) announced a round of layoffs, and my position was eliminated. Although saddened to leave this company, where my performance has consistently been rated as outstanding, I am looking forward to repeating my same record of success for my next employer.”
Be sure to highlight your accomplishments and skills throughout your interview. Even if a hiring manager is worried about the fact that you were fired or laid off, your experience and skills should speak for themselves.
Next, make sure that you do not lie about your employment. Of course, you can certainly omit a job from your resume if you feel that it is appropriate.
However, if you are asked about something regarding a specific job position that you were fired from, you need to answer the question truthfully. You should give a brief reason as to why you left the job and transition it into something more positive.
You can also use this as an opportunity to show skills and experience that you gained at that position that may be relevant to the position you are currently applying for.
Don’t forget that employers perform background checks and will potentially contact previous employers. Lying will have no benefit to you, and it may automatically cause you to lose your consideration for the position.
My next tip is to do your best to pull together references from the job that you were fired from that can speak positively to your performance in that position. This may include co-workers, vendors, or clients. Be sure to include these references directly on your resume.
Finally, when talking about your job history, try to focus on functionality rather than chronology. It’s probably not a good idea to do this on your resume, but it may be a good idea to do this during the interview. This may help showcase some of your more relevant job experience rather than your most recent.
How to List Your Firing (If You Insist…)
I truly do not recommend ever listing that you were fired from a job on your resume. Without the chance to explain yourself, a potential employer may automatically rule you out because you were fired, regardless of how much experience you have.
However, many people feel the need to state that they were laid off directly on their resume. I still do not recommend doing this — it would be better suited for a cover letter or in the interview. However, if you insist on including it in your resume, there are a few specific ways that you can word it.
You can write:
- “Company Relocated”
- “Major Downsizing”
- “Management Reorganization”
- “Laid Off
However, I do not recommend simply writing “Job Ended” or “Terminated.” This leaves it up to interpretation, and a potential employer may automatically assume that to mean that you were fired instead of laid off.
How to Apply to New Jobs After Being Fired
If you were recently fired, you might be stuck on how to start applying to jobs. Being fired can be discouraging, but it’s crucial to remember that you gained relevant experience and that you still have the skills necessary to continue your career.
So, where should you start?
First, be sure to focus on your accomplishments and skills that you have gained throughout your experience in your career. Your goal is to get an interview and to make a good first impression. Once you land that interview, you can worry about explaining the reason for your job termination. Until then, you should focus on showcasing the best version of yourself.
Next, be sure not to insult your previous employer. No matter what the reason was for your firing or what feelings you have toward them, you will not want to reveal that during an interview or application process.
The reason for this is because many employers will view it as unprofessional. Besides, it will only lead to more questions that focus on the negative aspects of your job history, which will not showcase the best version of yourself.
Besides, if you do this, then it may lead the employer to ask you the reason for leaving that job when they weren’t going to ask in the first place.
Overall Resume Tips
If your most recent job was one that you were fired or laid off from, you might be struggling to write your resume in general. You will want your resume to showcase your best assets without focusing on the fact that you were terminated from your job.
Because of this, I have put together some top resume tips. If you’re looking for additional resume tips, check out this article on Indeed.
1. Review Relevant Resume Examples
Before you begin writing your resume, it may help you to look at relevant resume examples that are specific to your industry. This will help you create the best resume that is specific to the jobs that you are applying for.
2. Keep It Brief
Each section of your resume should be concise and to-the-point. This includes descriptions of your experience, your skills section, and your summary. This will avoid making your resume far too long — no employer wants to read a resume that is multiple pages in length.
This will help to showcase your most relevant information and will help employers understand whether you are a good fit for their company.
3. Make It Simple
Not only should your information be brief, but readability is crucial, too. Unless you are applying for a creative role, your resume is not a place to be creative. It should be professional with a clean font and design. If necessary, you can find various resume templates online.
4. Search for Relevant Keywords
When you’re beginning to craft your resume, be sure to read the job postings that you will be applying for. Search the descriptions to find keywords that indicate what the employer is searching for in an ideal candidate. Then, include these keywords in your resume.
Pay special attention to the “requirements” or “qualifications” sections of job postings. This will help you figure out the skills that they are looking for, which you can showcase in your resume.
5. Showcase Major Achievements
Rather than listing your job duties under the positions that you previously held, list three to four of your best achievements within that role. When possible, include numbers in these. For example, you could say, “Increased blog readership by 15%.”
You may also include a specific “Skills” or “Achievements” section in your resume. This could include separate skills that you have gained throughout your career, education, or volunteer work.
5. Only Include Relevant Sections
When you are creating a resume, you will notice that there are some main sections that are suggested for you to use, especially if you are going off of a template. These may include a resume summary, objective, work history, education, and achievements or skills.
However, keep in mind that you do not necessarily need to include every single section in your resume.
For example, you do not need to include both a summary and objective — choose one.
Another example is if you’re in school and do not have employment experience yet — do not include an empty work history section. Instead, you can replace that with relevant coursework, internships, extracurricular activities, or academic achievements.
6. Edit, Edit, Edit
Be sure to look over your resume several times before sending it out. Extensively proofread it to be sure that you have no grammar or spelling errors. There are proofreading programs out there to help you with this, such as Grammarly. You can even purchase a resume writing book to help you out, such as this one.
7. Email Etiquette
It’s vital to include an email address on your resume for potential employers to contact you. However, there are two types of email addresses that you should not include: a current work email, or a personal/inappropriate email address. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org would be unprofessional to put on a resume.
You may want to create a specific email address to use when applying to jobs. Something generic, such as email@example.com would be appropriate.
Keep in mind that every job situation is different, and each potential employer will view the reason for your termination differently. A potential employer isn’t necessarily going to write you off as a candidate as soon as they hear that you were fired from your job. Employers understand that things happen, and it’s all about how you present the information to them.
Best of luck in your job search!