A reader wrote in to tell me that she has an interview coming up, but since she sent in her resume she was fired. She wants to know whether it’s a problem that the potential employer has the version of her resume that says she is still working there. And if so, what should she do.
It’s a good question about a situation she didn’t purposefully create. She certainly wasn’t trying to lie on her resume. But would it be seen as lying now not to tell them ahead of time?
Former job still listed on resume as “current”
I like that she’s being so thoughtful about the awkwardness of the situation as well as the possible repercussions of not saying anything. This is some of what the reader wrote:
“…the job that I was let go from is on my resume as currently working there. They will see this as they have the resume in hand at the interview.
I am afraid if they call for a reference and the former company says they would not re-hire me, then they may wonder why and think I was hiding something from them.
If it were you, would you wait until the last place of employment is mentioned in the interview to reveal the “let go” part?”
My response listing her possible choices
This was a hard one for me, because what she does and how she handles things can affect the impression she leaves with the employer. As someone just responding to the parts of the story that I know, I try to be very careful about NOT telling folks exactly what to do. All I can do is offer my thoughts.
Here’s what I wrote offering four possible approaches:
“I’ve taken some time to run various possibilities, and admit that I’m torn between several different approaches. So I’ll share them with you, since there is no absolutely right answer – and you are the person who has to live with the outcome.
(1) You could send an updated resume ahead of time, and then still wait until it comes up in the interview. This way you’re hiding nothing, and leaving the rest to them. But only do that if you feel sure you won’t be so focused on the question coming up that you sacrifice giving a natural, in-the-moment interview as a whole.
(2) If you think that would be a problem, then you might want to hand them the new resume at the start of the interview, and see if they say anything. They might just proceed as normal, or the resume could trigger the question up front, which might help you get it over with, but again could lead off on a less-than-positive note. Depends on how you handle it and the people involved.
If I were interviewing you, I might find it unimportant, especially if it doesn’t put into question your value to us as an employee. Others might find it casts a cloud on their picture of you. But that’s how any interview is, really. No absolute right answer. More important is the way you present yourself. Clouds can lift if you impress.
(3) If you simply want to get it over with for sure, you could start off with some positive statement about being here, and then say you just want to let them know that there has been a change since you sent in your resume. Explain that you’re no longer there, and expand a bit.
Keep it brief and moving toward the future at THIS company. Hopefully you will wow them enough with the rest of the interview (connecting as well as possible with each one) for this to be a non-issue.
(4) Do NONE of that ahead of time, and just let the interview provide the opportunity for what you’ve prepared to say.”
More about my response to her
I wish that I had an absolutely perfect answer for job seekers that would work in every circumstance. But too many factors go into making one approach better than another for a particular job level, job type, employer, or job candidate. And, as I explained, sometimes the interview tone itself can help you decide your approach.
In my own interviewing days, I often let my gut guide me in a particular situation, and even adjusted anything I had planned to mention by the feel I get in the room as I enter. Unfortunately, I can’t package how to do that. Still, it helps if you are prepared to be flexible, just in case.
It also helps to figure out what feels most right for you – and whatever you decide practice ahead of time in the mirror once or twice. Not too much or it starts to sound canned. You want to be as real as possible, since this helps set the tone for the interview. (Plus there’s the flexibility thing.)
So what did she decide to do?
I was a little worried the reader might not appreciate more than one choice, since some people write wanting definite answers. But no one employer or situation is the same. After doing their research and weighing choices, in the end each job seeker has to do what feels right to them.
Luckily she seemed happy just to have someone help her think things through. Her choice?
“Thank you so much! Leaning towards number three. Will have to ponder a bit. Love that. You are so very helpful & thank you!!!”
And I think that makes sense for her needs – and her personal tolerance of the looming question. I’ll update this if she lets us know what happens.
UPDATE: Good news. But not exactly what you might expect. See Connie’s comment from June 3, 2015.
So what would YOU choose to do?
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