What To Do When You Have A Bad Employment Record?

Do you have a bad employment record? Have you been sacked from a previous job? Maybe you’ve even got a criminal record? Are these things stopping you from getting a job? If so, then don’t let them.

Combating a bad employment record is a problem (there is nothing you can do to expunge it) but there are things you can do to overcome it. Let’s start by seeing if we are on the same wavelength.

Which of the following have you considered trying (or actually tried)? Let’s say that you are applying for a job and you need to deal with your bad employment record – do you:

Make up a story such as ‘my last employer has gone bust’ or say you ‘left of your own choice’ and hope they won’t ask?

  • Give the phone number of a friend and get them to pretend to be your ex-boss and give you a favourable reference?
  • Scan the company letterhead into your computer and make your letter of dismissal a glowing testimonial?
  • Adjust the dates on your CV or application form to span the blip and hope no-one will spot it?
  • Blame your last employer or your situation for the blot on your employment record?
  • Ring up any company you wish to apply to and ask their personnel department for advice?
  • Put down the full details of your dismissal or prison sentence and be completely up-front about it?

… or, none of the above?

If you chose ‘none of the above’, then we are off to a good start. All of the other answers are losing hands.

Lying to your new employer (or getting a false reference/forging a testimonial) is a really bad idea because sooner or later you will be caught out. Since lying over your employment record justifies instant dismissal, you will then have a new blot on your record to deal with. Don’t even think about it.

Being ‘in-your-face honest’ is the other extreme and is also a bad idea, since you will run headlong into the adverse prejudice of management or personnel if you do this. On top of that, you are divulging all your personal information to people who have no intention of giving you a job.

Now to demonstrate the best answer by looking at a real job application.

Firstly, complete the form honestly but don’t give any reasons for leaving your last employer (or explain the gap caused by your time in prison). Do likewise if you are sending a CV instead of the company’s form.

Secondly, get your standard covering letter on your computer screen then adjust it to read like the example below:

Dear Sirs

Vacancy For Sales Assistant

I write in respect of your advertisement regarding the above position and enclose herewith my Curriculum Vitae (or ‘completed application form’) for your consideration.

Since I enjoy shopping myself, I can relate to customers and feel that I am ideally suited for the post.

For grounds that I cannot disclose here, I am unable to give my ex-employer as a referee (or give details of the gap in my career history). I am prepared to discuss the reasons behind this in a full and frank manner should I be fortunate enough to be selected for an interview.

If required, I am available at short notice.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours faithfully

This is guaranteed to pique the interest of most interviewers. Not only that, it is turning a negative experience into a positive one and that, alone, should impress a potential employer. Make sure, though, that you have a good and clear explanation of your blot (now is the time to be ‘in-your-face honest’), even if it is a simple admission and a promise that you have learnt your lesson.

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