Termination Results in Resume Gap

Tasha writes:
I have a question. I was fired last summer but I don’t use my last employer on
my resume so there’s a huge gap of employment and I don’t know what
to put on applications for “reason for leaving” when really I was fired for a
misunderstanding. I don’t want to open a can of worms with an interviewer.
Example of gap: 11-2009 thru 12-10 is my last employment history on my
resume. I worked 12-10 thru 06-11 but I was fired and don’t use this
employer on my resume.
Can you give me a suggestion — please?

The Career Doctor responds:
Yours is an interesting situation. Before I even get to the issue of the job
you were fired from let’s start with what you’ve been doing in the year-plus
since you were fired. Have you worked at all during this time? Have you
volunteered your services? Have you received additional education or training?
You must find something to fill this gap — other than job-hunting or sitting
home feeling sorry for yourself over being fired for some sort of misunderstanding.
If you have not done anything — start doing something NOW.
While a resume is a statement of facts it is also a sales document — it needs
to convince the prospective employer that you are worthy of an interview.
And in my opinion a short stint is much better than having a much longer
gap on your resume. Regardless of the month hiring managers will see 2010
and think that you have been out of work for two years and there must be
something wrong with you. It’s just too long of a gap. You could consider
using a chrono-functional or hybrid resume centered around skills clusters but many
employers strongly favor the traditional chronological resume because it’s easier to
find the information they need. Further a functional resume is often red flag that you are hiding something.
As for job applications simply put “left company” as the reason. You certainly
do not need to go into any detail on the application. Again the application is
designed to weed out applicants so it too is a sales document for you. Once
in the interview you may need to address the issue — so be prepared with a
short statement about how you were fired over a misunderstanding being very
certain to address the lesson you learned from the experience so that you
show a positive attitude and growth. Do not blame your previous employer
or manager; accept your responsibility in the issue but do not dwell on it.
And don’t worry too much what this past employer will say about you. The
one benefit of living in such a litigious society is that most employers are
very unwilling to say anything too negative about current or former employers
for fear of being sued.
Finally it sounds as though you are having a hard time rebounding from
being fired. If so consider getting some sort of career counseling to deal
with these feelings. You might also benefit from my article
Getting Fired:
An Opportunity for Change and Growth
published on Quintessential Careers.