"I WAS BEING TERMINATED FOR USING A BAD WORD"
BY JEANINE "J.T." O'DONNELL AND DALE DAUTEN
Dear J.T. & Dale: I was told that I was being terminated for using a bad word that was overheard by a patient. Yet the supervisor could not give me any specifics of who, what, where and when. I honestly believe that I was cut to reduce overhead since they had expanded and constantly reminded us of the money invested. I was the
second-highest-paid employee there, and my job duties easily could be split and done by other people (which is what happened after I was let go). My assumption is that they used an excuse, because they know I would have asked for a severance package. I don't want to use the reason they gave me on any future job applications because it's not true. Would it be OK to put what I believe is the real reason? -- Randy
DALE: First, Randy, I'm willing to accept your side of the story because it often happens: Managers need to reduce the staff and rather than being honest about it, they'll wait for an excuse to fire someone. Doing so, they avoid paying benefits, and they duck a difficult conversation -- instead of trying to explain why they picked you to lay off, they simply blame you. It's low, weasley behavior that allows weak managers to feel virtuous.
J.T.: But I wouldn't put it on the initial application. Even if it's true, it sounds like an excuse, and future employers don't want to interview someone who lays blame and is negative. I think you could say you left your last job due to "professional differences and the job was subsequently eliminated." Then, when asked directly what that means, be honest and explain what happened. Keep to the facts. The goal is to refocus them on your positive attitude in spite of what happened --tell them what you learned while working at your former employer and give credit where credit is due.
DALE: But why raise those "professional differences" doubts? I'd just say the position was eliminated. First, though, you'll want to cover yourself by e-mailing your old boss and making sure that when someone calls to check on your employment, the company only verifies dates of employment. They owe you that. If they won't agree to say nothing, tell them you're going to contact an attorney; after all, going public with their lie is going to hurt your efforts to find work.
J.T.: If that doesn't work, reach out to former co-workers from your old employer and see if they would be willing to be character references for you. A nice list of people who still work there is the easiest way to counteract a negative or nonexistent reference from the company.
DALE: Let's end by taking a minute to consider Randy's dilemma as a cautionary tale. Whenever a company is in financial difficulties, everyone who doesn't bring in revenue is vulnerable. And if that's you, and you know that your job "easily could be split and done by other people," then it's up to you to do more than wait and hope; it's then your job to sharpen your job hunting skills faster than the company's finance people sharpen their ax.
Dear J.T. & Dale: What is your opinion about using the "resume blasting" services that claim to send your resume directly to thousands of recruiters?-- Jay
J.T.: I know the price point -- usually less than $50 -- makes these services seem like a "What do I have to lose?" proposition, but still, I'm skeptical because recruiters already are so swamped with solicited and unsolicited resumes daily, and usually prefer to work with candidates on referral.
DALE: However, with the leverage involved, such services might actually be helpful. We don't know of anyone who's tried to figure out if they work or not. And here's a chance to find out: If you've used such a service, please go to our blog at jtanddale.com and tell us if it helped or not. We'll keep a tally online and also report back here on what we learned.
* * *
Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
(c) 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.