Career Advice Tuesday – “Should I Tell Them I Was Fired”

November 23, 2010

Dear Infosecleaders:

I am currently in the process of applying for a Senior Information Security leadership position with a company, and I was given an application form to complete.  The form asked me if I was “fired” from any of my previous employers.

In my case, the answer to that question is “Yes.” 

About 10 years ago, when I was in my 20′s I was fired from an information security consulting firm, that is no longer in existence.   I did not get fired for anything egregious, just basically voiced an opinion counter to the owner of the business.  ( I will chalk that up to lessons learned)

My question is, should I reveal this to my potential future employer on the application.  My ethics tell me to do so, however I really am interested in this opportunity and I do not want to raise a red flag.

Any advice would be appreciated?


The Apprentice

Dear “The Apprentice”:

Plain and simple, your instincts are correct.   You should definitely fill out the form with the appropriate information, and let this perspective employer know that you had been fired in the past.  If possible, you should give a brief (and we do mean “brief”) description of the circumstances, to give some background (and so that human resources mind does not wander).

In addition, if you are extended an offer to join your new employer, and they check for references, you should make sure that at least one of your references is from that employer.  By doing this, you can demonstrate that you are not hiding from your past and that you are willing to address the situation from the perspective of another party.  Hopefully this person will be able to validate your story, if asked.

You do bring up a good point.  If you have worked in the the information security industry for over a decade, it is very likely that one of your previous employers does not exist.   However, it is naive to think that your employment records have not been kept, and that any reputable background investigation firm would not be able to validate anything that you attest to on your application.  

In my history of running my recruitment firm, I have witnessed first hand the merits of honesty and integrity, when it comes to revealing and discussing past transgressions or embarrassing moments.  By demonstrating accountability for your actions, you present yourself in a positive light, and can most likely overcome any objection.  When you are subversive, and try to hide the truth, the outcome is rarely pleasant.

Hope you get hired,

Donald Trump  (aka Lee and Mike)

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 


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