Your employer just let you go. You need to find another job, but how should you handle your termination on your resume?
The days when you signed on with a company and stayed with it until retirement are gone. In today's climate, employers are much more understanding when they see a less-than-perfect work chronology. Follow these tips regarding losing your job to ensure you're creating the strongest resume to up your chances of being called in for an interview.
Don't Mention It
No matter how sour your termination, do not explain the circumstances on your resume. You will have a much better chance of impressing hiring managers if you deal with this question in face-to-face interviews.
If you were recently let go, resist the urge to keep your position listed as "to present" on your resume, giving the appearance that you're still employed. You will have to explain yourself later on, and potential employers might think you tried to mislead them.
Laid Off? Use Your Cover Letter
If your termination was due to a layoff rather than a performance-related issue, consider mentioning it in your post-layoff cover letter. Employers are more forgiving of layoffs, so mentioning this might work in your favor. You can write something like this:
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...
Focus on Your Accomplishments
Your goal is to wow your potential employer by highlighting your accomplishments and skills on your resume. Even if hiring managers are wondering why you left a certain employer, your resume should be strong enough for you to receive invitations to interviews in which you can explain your situation in person.
Assess Your Contributions
When updating your resume, it can be difficult to put your emotions aside and write a strong description for the employer that let you go. But this is exactly what you need to do. If you're stuck, seek the opinions of colleagues who respected your work and ask them about your performance -- they might remind you about contributions you've made that you took for granted or forgot about. Here are a few questions to ask yourself regarding your performance:
- Did you take on responsibilities outside your original position scope? Were you able to juggle multiple projects and duties while maintaining the highest emphasis on quality?
- What were your key contributions to your employer? In what ways did you excel at your job, and how did your employer benefit from having you on board? Specific, measurable outcomes of your work have the strongest impact.
- Did you go above and beyond the call of duty? How did you contribute to bottom-line results?
- What types of challenges did you face? What did you do to overcome these challenges? How did your performance benefit the company?
- Have you instigated procedures that improved overall efficiency? Were you known for fast or accurate work output?
- Were you part of a team that was recognized with awards or accolades? Did you receive positive commendations by your supervisors (or clients, vendors, coworkers, etc.)?
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How to handle sticky situations in your cover letter
A few sentences in your cover letter can help explain a long gap in your work history. Check out these examples for help finding the right words.
Get inspiration for explaining your work history.
Are you wondering how to deal with a sticky work history issue? Whether you were laid off from your last position, took time off to raise children, or are looking to change careers, the cover letter is the perfect place to address potential red flags.
One caveat: Keep the explanation brief. Writing a cover letter is an exercise in selling yourself, so the tone should be upbeat and positive. Review these examples to get inspiration for explaining your sticky situation:
Last month, ABC Co. made the difficult decision to dissolve its operations, so I am available for immediate employment. I am eager to continue my ______ career and was very excited when I learned about your job opportunity -- it’s a perfect match to my qualifications and career goals.
Although I was a top producer for ABC Co., my position was eliminated during a major corporate restructuring. I have been searching for a position in the industry, but the economy has made positions in ______ very difficult to find. In the interim, I have been networking at industry events and keeping my skills fresh, but I am eager to resume my career in the ______ field.
(Note: Don’t disclose medical information that could jeopardize your chance of landing a job -- disclosure is your personal choice.)
After taking time off to undergo back surgery, I left ABC Co. (on excellent terms) to focus on my recovery. As I regained my strength, I went to school part-time and received certifications in ______ and ______. Now fully recovered, I have been given an “excellent” bill of health by my doctor, and am highly motivated to return to the full-time workforce.
Time off caring for an ill family member
In the last couple of years, I served as primary caregiver to my father, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. During this difficult period, I kept my work skills updated by independently studying ______ and actively participating in industry news groups. At this time, I am available to return to work, and am confident that I would be an asset to your team.
Time off raising children
After stepping away from the workforce to start a family, I am eager to resume my professional career now that my children are school-aged. I have kept my skills and connections current through active volunteer work, including leadership roles in school and charitable organizations.
I plan to relocate to ______ to be closer to family, and your opening presents an excellent opportunity. I am available immediately for a telephone interview and can arrange to meet in person on short notice.
Although successful in my ______ career, I have realized that the aspects of my work that I find the most rewarding are all in ______-related functions. I am currently pursuing a full-time position in this area, and am confident in my ability to excel in this field.
After building a successful small business (where I grew revenues from zero to six figures in two years), I recently closed the operation to pursue my passion for the ______ field. Your opening is an excellent opportunity, and I look forward to speaking with you about how I can help expand your operation.
Although I have changed jobs more than I would have liked in the past few years, I am searching for a position where I can make a long-term commitment. If you agree that my credentials are an excellent fit to your needs, please feel free to call or email me to arrange a meeting.
Most recently, I have contracted with ABC Agency and have completed a number of interesting assignments (detailed on the attached resume). While this work is rewarding, the short-term nature of temping does not let me provide the kind of enduring, value-added contributions I find to be most fulfilling as I could as a full-time team member.
Budget cuts required me to take a ______ position in order to remain employed, but I am confident in my ability to step back up to a management position and hit the ground running. I would welcome the chance for an interview to discuss your goals and outline ways I can help you achieve them.
Job search next steps
Now that you know how to handle a tricky job situation on your cover letter, it's time to get your resume in order. Want help making the most of your resume?Join Monster today today and get a free resume review from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. Our experts can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter, even with a tricky work gap.