What To Disclose About a Negative Job History

So, you got fired or laid off – what are you going to do about it now? Instead of dwelling on past events, it’s important to bounce back from a job loss and focus on finding your next job. A negative job history can present certain challenges during a job search, but it is possible to parlay a bad work experience into opportunities for growth.

Abby Kohut, is a career coach who is currently touring the country
with a goal of helping 1 million job seekers. She is the President of Staffing Symphony, LLC, and her articles on AbsolutelyAbby.com and her bi-weekly Career Wake Up Calls inspire job seekers to stay motivated as they continue their search for their ideal job.

Kohut has presented to more than 200 groups from high school students to financial executives. She is the author of two books, Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets and Absolutely Abby’s Top 12 Interview Questions Exposed She was selected as one of the top 100 influential people online according to Fast Company Magazine and was named as one of The Monster 11 for 2011: Career Experts Who Can Help Your Job Search.

Kohut shared her advice on what you should disclose about a negative work history in a job interview or application.

Question: Many online job applications and some “personality assessments” ask if you have ever been fired from a job. Are you legally obligated to answer that?

Kohut: While you are not legally obligated to answer this question, it’s best to provide an honest answer. Once you are hired, you will undergo a background check and if you lied about something during the interview process or on an application, your offer may be rescinded.

Question: If you have been fired from a job, what is the best way to answer that question?

If you can enter a free form answer, it’s best to write “to be discussed” which will permit you to explain the situation to a human being rather than to a computer.

Question: Most job interviews ask why you are leaving/left your previous job. If you left under negative circumstances, or were fired, what is the best thing to say? How much should you disclose?

Kohut: The best thing to do is to admit the reason why you were fired, take responsibility for it rather than blaming the company, and then explain what you learned from it and why it will never happen again.

Question: What is your advice for completing job applications that ask you to list contact information/job reference from a job where you left on negative terms or were fired?

Kohut: Find someone else at the company who can provide a strong reference for you. It doesn’t need to be your former manager as long as it’s someone at a higher level who has seen you do good work.


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