I just (as in three hours ago) got fired. I’d worked there about a year and my ex-boss said he’d give me a great reference. How should I handle this in interviews and on my resume?
First off, I’m really sorry to hear you’re out of a job. I am glad that you’re asking this question right away because you need to have gone over how to handle these situations in advance of landing interviews. You don’t want to write your first good opportunity off to a learning experience because you botched talking about why you’re unemployed.
Let’s assume that you’re now unemployed as a result of an economic layoff, not an individual performance issue. Since it seems as though you have a good relationship with your former boss, you want to gain as much value as you can from that without creating an inconvenience by taking up too much of their time.
It’s a good idea to ask him or her to write for you a letter that you can use as a “leave-behind” when you’re out on in-person interviews. The letter should include both a recommendation of your work as well as the reasons why you were terminated. This letter should also encourage potential employers to contact them if further clarification is needed. It’s especially important that you make sure HR has a copy of this letter early on in the process so that when your files are reviewed at the end of it while making a decision that this information is clear and present.
As to your resume, make sure you place an accurate end date for your former employer. Too many times a resume will include “date – present” when the candidate really isn’t currently employed. It can be perceived as dishonest and will bring your character into question. I’m sure there will also be an instance when you’ll be asked a direct question during an interview that requires you to stammer through some version of “well, actually… um… I’m not really still working there,” which will be an awkward moment for the both of you. These days I also don’t think it’s a bad idea to include a minor reference to an economic layoff in your cover letter so that the person reading it doesn’t make any assumptions as to your unemployment.