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Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

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Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby James Tyler » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:46 pm

I started a full-time position at a moderately-sized startup company in early January. It was an RA type role that was focused on hands-on in vivo work (with mice). Today, I was called into a meeting with my manager and she let me know that I was being terminated immediately. I had been here for a total of 2 months. She said the reason for the termination was because I wasn’t able to become 100% proficient in two in vivo techniques. One was an extremely difficult technique (IV dosing in mice), and the other was a moderately difficult blood collection method. I had been practicing them for about a month and a half, and she specifically brought up that I practiced every week, sometimes a few times a week. Everything else was fine with me; I got along with everyone, and I never received any complaints about other work that I was doing. In the first few weeks, I actually got very positive feedback.

This company has a very high turnover rate; almost 50% of their employees got laid off or quit their job within the last year. There are very few people at the company who have worked there for more than 2 years. In my team, everybody had been there for less than a year (previous people were fired). Early on, my manager told me that the reason for the high turnover was that this company doesn’t have a performance improvement plan; they just let people go if things aren’t working out.

Should I put the 2 months of experience I have at this company on my resume? Or should I just leave a gap in employment (my last position ended in December)? Why or why not? I’ve done some google-searching and there’s completely mixed opinions, from both “experts” and users posting on forums. I’d prefer to leave a gap, mainly because I’m concerned about the 2 month time period being a red flag for hiring managers.

I plan to be honest in an interview and let them know that I was only at this company for 2 months (if I don’t put it on my resume). How should I explain the fact that I was here for only 2 months before being terminated?
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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:50 am

I suspect it will be easier than you think to explain the situation to others. If turnover is as high as you say, there are going to be former employees all over the place that understand the situation. I wouldn't be surprised if this place has developed a pretty strong reputation in the industry.
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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby D.X. » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:59 am

Hi James,

Regarding the 2 months, hard call on whether to put on the resume or not given the absense of another opportunity.

This is where the grey line of ethics are. You could do harm to your next opportunity if you put that on the CV - in the screening process (i.e. before you are called) you may be ruled out for a call with just a 2 month tenure, even if you were still employeed.

I don't recommend ever lying however one may consider omission - its not a lie its just omission in the context of inclusion can do more harm than good.

The issue is if you mention it, yes to Rich's point people may understand, but then you open the door to further investigation as to why you were there 2 months. Yes, Rich is right that certain companies may have a reputation for high turn over, although irrespective of that, the reputation may not be enough to garner any sympathy in very competitive environment.

Rather - i'm not sure what your last position was before this 2 month experience, but maybe it would be more telling to focus on why you left your that last position - can be as simple as to carve time out to identify your next opportunity more favorable to your ambitions- that is generally more acceptable. Don't mention the 2 month job as a suggestion.

I have been in a company for less than 3 months many years ago and about 3 companies back. I was not let go, rather the position was not aligned to the expecations presented to me during the interview process and staying in the role would have done more harm than good - luckily by the time i made that desision to leave, i was in another interview process in another company, at not time did i disclose I was employeed and about to quit, that would have done more harm. I didn't lie either, I just told the facts of my current situation which didn't need to mention my employeement status rather my family status was more prevaling (i.e. we moved to another region of the country due to spouses new job and I was in transition and available).

I still don't have that less than 3 month experience on my CV - 3 companies later its irrelevant but I made it through.

So in summary you need to weigh if it will do more harm than good to yourself. Be ready to have a rational to explain your omission if found out, you can truthful and say it was not of relevance to the new opportunity and direction pursued at hand and done. No need for details.

Hope this helps, others will disagree i'm sure - and I don't advocate and never will advocate lying however strategic omission where more harm can come to your advancement verse benefit is within the grey zone Ethicial conduct - but its how you handle it. Just real-word advice.

As far as Ethics goes, I invoke Rule number 14 from the NCIS character Gibbs..."Bend the line, don't break it."

DX


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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:58 pm

I think the advice here is good. My thought is that there are only two times to leave a company -- one, after you've been there a few years and have good experiences that you can sell to a new employer, and the other when (like DX) you've only been there a very short time.

Everyone treats the "missing position" differently when it is discovered by a new employer. In some cases, its a considerable ethical blunder not to have it there. In other cases, the candidate defused the issue by mentioning it during the interview process. But you just never know how it will be received if it's not there. I'm sure even DX was concerned in the first interviews after that departure, wondering how it would be received or if it would come up for discussion.

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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby Nate W. » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:46 am

James, sorry to hear you were let go. It happens even when you have done everything right. You see sometimes people just don't fit in with a company or organization. What this might mean is that you just can't get along with someone (who nobody else can along with or should ever be asked to get along in the first place with but that manager has more tenure or influence) or you don't share the same values as your coworkers or the company. There are many possibilities here; so developing strong and effective working relationships during the networking process is so important. The networking process includes informational interviews, formal interviews, and the probationary period.

During the probationary period, both your supervisor and you are evaluating each other for fit. Fit includes competencies but it is mostly about your abilities to get along with others productively; whether you share common values with the company and supervisor; and whether you are passionate about the goals of the position. Sometimes you meet a hiring manager who is a real sociopath during the probationary period or where you don't agree with the values of the company (yes. there are a few unethical companies out there who intentionally hire the naïve and try to make them drink the cool-aid). It is imperative upon you to have some discernment about the organization and determine whether this position is a good long term fit before this period ends. Most professionals leave a job within the first few months because they realize the position is not a good fit for them long term. While learning about the company, keep your thoughts private and be open minded. So, it is perfectly acceptable to leave a position (or even get fired) during this probationary period.

Many would argue that if things didn't work out during this probationary period; you were never really an employee and it doesn't warrant placing it on your resume. This is just part of the process of networking and finding a job; the world is full all sorts of personalities that you don't want to work for or moreover depend on for a paycheck. C'est la vie; just move on. In an ideal world, prospective hiring managers would not prejudge candidates based on these temporary positions where things did work out. Instead, they would allow the candidate ample opportunity to talk about what went wrong. I would contend it is better for you to leave early during the probationary period than wait years later when the problem might be more complicated (or when relationships more strained). If this happens, just start the process over and leave this experience off your resume. Most managers should just take this C'est la vie attitude about this but many don't, especially HR. So don't give them any ammunition to use it against you in the next interview; since they don't know the context of why you were let go?


With that said, I understand the ethical dilemma here of reporting this temporary position. If you were hired officially after the probationary period, I would contend that you have an obligation to disclose it if it is considered a relevant position. Further, you have an obligation to work in this position (or for the company) for the next year before leaving for another position. This is what the probationary period is all about. Use the probationary period as a tool to evaluate the company and assess your potential opportunity within this company. Sometimes you just don't know about a position until you are working there full-time and may have misgivings after working there; should you be penalized for this or be obligated to provide an explanation if the fit wasn't right? No, I would contend. Despite what the HR pundits say, you are under no obligation to report these temporary positions and I question whether they would find out about it with a background check. If they did find out, just say it wasn't a good fit or I am using a functional resume. I have two gaps in my resume and a hiring manager has never asked me about this. Only would HR and recruiters ask me about gaps and insist about full disclosure of all jobs; relevant or non-relevant.

I would rather have a longer gap on my resume to find the right position than take a position that is not a good fit. Sometimes a good search in this field can take months, especially in the life sciences and in certain areas of the US. Once a great manager told me that I should always be on the look out for good opportunities, especially during the probationary period. You are always networking and building those relationships whereby these contacts can bail you out when you are let go and you can reciprocate when they are in need. As you get older, many positions will only be available through networking even though they are advertised. Networking also helps (employees and supervisors) find a better long term position and insures there is better fit; minimizing any potential conflicts or difference in personalities or values.


PS: Often managers make up objective reasons (e.g. failed to learn a technique) for firing someone when in reality it is all about a personality conflict because the company does want to pay unemployment benefits. When you are fired (or let go), find out why and ask for a positive letter of employment before you leave from your supervisor or supervisor's boss. Then use this letter to explain why you left this temporary position. You want to find out if you were fired for cause or some personality conflict. Always ask a manager (not HR) if they will lay you off as the official reason for the separation; if there is some push back say "otherwise I will fight the unemployment benefits and I know you don't want that." Remember nobody wants to admit they fired someone because they hated this person while at the same time feel guilty about letting somebody go (let them save face or their supervisor) and that's why a positive letter will minimize the perception of getting fired for cause (when it was just a clash of personalities or values).


Best of luck with the new job search and good networking!
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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby D.X. » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:15 am

Ha - for that interview process -not really - I knew the chances of me being found out was next to nil and I had a level of readiness to past the red face test if it did happen.

How ever in another interview process - I omitted the fact that my wife was an ex-employee who was in the team I was interviewing for. Small world got to me and I was Sussed out after my first in person interview! No matter how ready I was for the red face test I still got a red face when HR called me 2 days after asking if said employee was my wife!! Talk about red face - but i was ready for that call anyways and was going to disclose in the second face to face interview!. They totally got my reasoning (i didnt want to be judged on my wife’s coat tails) - I got the job! But it was a funny story - one that I raised during my exit apero.

Anyways still be careful with omissions if you do it - it’s NOT fun and games and there can be consequences.

See my original post. Be ready to pass the red face test.

Dx



Dave Jensen wrote:I think the advice here is good. My thought is that there are only two times to leave a company -- one, after you've been there a few years and have good experiences that you can sell to a new employer, and the other when (like DX) you've only been there a very short time.

Everyone treats the "missing position" differently when it is discovered by a new employer. In some cases, its a considerable ethical blunder not to have it there. In other cases, the candidate defused the issue by mentioning it during the interview process. But you just never know how it will be received if it's not there. I'm sure even DX was concerned in the first interviews after that departure, wondering how it would be received or if it would come up for discussion.

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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:03 pm

As an aside, the lengthy post above making fun of "HR Pundits" is from a professional job seeker. If you have a zillion jobs that have come and gone, you really need to take that person's advice, as it sounds like he or she is well-practiced on the subject.

If you've just lost this one job, James, and that doesn't become a feature of your career (I'm sure it won't) than it's up to you to disclose, because it's more than "HR pundits" who will ask you about it -- it would likely include your future boss as well. I like DX's term "the red face test" . . . If you can handle getting into that discussion after you were hired, by an inquiring boss or HR exec, than go for non-disclosure -- as long as you can face that red-face inquiry and get away with it.

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Something new from LinkedIn-- Lag time shown between employers

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:20 pm

In line with this thread, it was interesting to note a recent change in the LinkedIn version used by headhunters and employers. This LinkedIn "Recruiter" version now shows the lag time between employers, based on the dates inserted into the LI profile by the candidate.

It makes it really important to show the dates accurately, so that they match up. And, it would make the situation for James and others like him much more difficult, because now that gap will be very clear to anyone looking at the Recruiter version.

I recently imported some LI candidates from Recruiter into my database for a search I'm working on, and they came up with as little as "One hour gap" in employment. The "hours" thing is completely unnecessary, and quite annoying, but it does show the extent of the detail regarding employment dates. It's harder and harder to get away with a gap!

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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby Nate W. » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:26 pm

Dave,

For the record, I have over 25 years experiences as a research scientist which includes industry experience, patent litigation, and as a VC technical analyst. I have currently served two years as a patent and technical analyst for a VC firm that is interested in therapeutics and medical devices. We have launched 4 companies and one has profited nicely with a IPO.

Dave, you know better than this. You can't say things about my career that are knowingly false. Check your facts first before making false statements. I am proud of my accomplishments and the only reason I help this forum is because I know how difficult it is to find employment in this field.

"HR Pundits" was not an insult directed at you. However, you apparently took it as such. Apparently, you don't like it when I criticize HR and its practices. The forum should know that HR has evolved in recent years to a point in both practices and principles such it does not add value to recruiting. It makes it more difficult and takes longer for well qualified candidates to find work and makes it harder for managers to find those well qualified candidates. Despite these criticisms, HR wants to protects its turf and not relinquish its input over hiring decisions. The reasons for this are mostly silly.

Yes, there are many executives that agree with me and many small companies are phasing HR out. Most patent law firms don't even have a HR department; the same is true for VC firms. Some small reagent companies don't even have a HR person or maybe 1-2 employees handling HR at a private CRO. Based on the criticisms about HR role's in recruiting, companies are either outsourcing basic functions to a HR company or they are using some technology platform, like Namely, to replace HR; then let the hiring managers make the decisions w/o obfuscation from HR. Maybe these trends cut into your business or livelihood and you don't like it when someone says HR does not add value to recruiting because these criticisms might effect the bottom line for HR employees (or private recruiters, like yourself) in recruiting and/or inhibit the degree of influence HR recruiters have over hiring decisions. Frankly, I don't care about this; only to help scientists find work.

What I am proposing in my advice is a better way to find a job via networking and w/o the dealing with the silliness of HR's controlling (backseat) behavior. Plus, many small companies are moving away from HR recruiters and thus, networking becomes even more important in finding a job.

We at the VC firm have probably created more wealth and jobs for scientists than you have placed in the last year.

Maybe this forum should discuss these criticisms about HR's role in recruiting: [Links Removed to External Site with "Career Advice for Sale" Elements]

Nick is right in his assessment that HR's role in recruiting, especially among technical employees, like scientists, it is part of the problem not the solution.

Dave, take this post and repost it as a different stand alone post then we (the forum) will have a lively, yet friendly, discussion about HR's evolving role in recruiting and what this means in terms of what strategies are most effective in finding a job and why?

Please, any well educated and reasonable person knows you don't win an argument with ad hominem attacks, especially with those trying to help.
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Re: Terminated after 2 months- does it need to be on your resume?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:58 pm

Nate,

Just as with scientists, there are good ones and bad ones -- HR is not some kind of general category that you can rate high or low, but a career area where there are individuals -- people who either help their teams or detract from their team's progress. I've met both kinds in my work. I can tell you that there's nothing more detrimental to the success of a search than a bad HR exec . . . and, there's nothing that gets the job done BETTER than a sharp HR person who is actually the grease behind getting the best people hired.

They'll never NOT be a part of the process for those of us who work in search, and for job seekers. So getting good advice about working with them is just as essential as getting advice about working around them (networking). You'll recall that the latter has, for 20+ years, been the focus of advice here on the Forum.

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