Dear J.T. & Dale: My 20-year-long, great career recently got tarnished by double standards and malicious gossip. I followed the chain of command to squelch the inappropriate behavior of a manager.
My supervisor then pulled some “dirt” and recounted some “fairy tales” to discredit me, and I was terminated.
Question: In seeking future employment, how would you handle it when they ask for a reason for termination? -Paul
DALE: When you go over the boss’s head, you are forcing management to make a choice, and they usually choose to side with management. Going forward, you’re facing the same bias – a hiring manager is going to tend to see the manager’s side.
Even if you are right on the facts, they’ll believe that you should have persuaded your boss, not gone around him or her.
J.T.: Whenever hiring managers see that you were terminated from your last position, they naturally will be concerned and curious.
Trying to avoid their curiosity is the fastest way to make sure you don’t get a job offer. You have to tell your story as objectively and convincingly as possible.
It might sound something like this: “I went to the higher authorities in the company when I felt something was being done against policy. My manager took exception to my action, and soon after, I found myself being let go.”
Then – and this is most important – you close out your explanation with what you learned from the experience. A future employer wants to hear how you plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
DALE: You can do that in a way that makes the interviewer believe you understand management’s role.
You demonstrate understanding by saying, with a smile: “You’re probably wondering if I’m a troublemaker. Well, I’ve had dozens of managers in a 20-year career and never had a problem before, and I plan to never have a problem again. I just need a manager who tries to do the right thing.”
The only employers who wouldn’t appreciate that sentiment are those you wouldn’t want to work for.
Poor management image from Bigstock