Brent Castleton (not his real name) just got fired. He had never before been fired from a job, and, at first, he was in a state of shock and his pride was badly wounded.
Then, he realized he could turn his job termination into an opportunity to make a career change.
Sample Resume for "Just Fired" Job Seeker (a new window or tab will open for all sample resume links).
In this sample resume, you'll see how he handled the "you're fired" issue and also repositioned himself for a new career in human resources.
Brent got fired because he didn't see eye-to-eye with executive management. There were a few new management policies he didn't feel right about, and he expressed his concerns at a team meeting. Unfortunately, his opinion was not well received, and he got into a heated debate with the owner's son.
A few weeks later, Brent got his pink slip.
After taking a few days off, Brent did some self-assessment and found he really liked all the personnel management tasks he'd done during his 10 years in sales management. As a sales manager, he'd recruited, hired, and developed many new employees. So it seemed completely reasonable that he could transfer those skills into a new Human Resources career.
So Brent put together his resume to target a Human Resources position with a focus on recruitment.
There are a few interesting points about how Brent very subtly handled getting fired on his resume. Let's take a look…
By putting a job objective statement at the top of his resume, Brent put himself in the driver's seat, declaring what type of career change he wanted to make. Without that objective statement, a recruiter or hiring manager would assume he wanted to stay in sales.
His simple line, "Objective: Position in Human Resources with emphasis on Recruitment," made Brent feel more empowered about his career transition, and less like a victim of corporate conflict.
When he listed his most recent job, he didn't say why he left. In fact, there isn't a word about getting fired anywhere on his resume. Brent knew being fired is only one of many possibilities that might explain why a job seeker left his last job.
A prospective employer reading his resume is very unlikely to jump to the conclusion that Brent was fired. So rather than bring up any questions about his departure, he decided it was best to leave it unexplained.
Of course, later in the hiring process when the employer checks Brent's references, his job termination may come to light. But that would be after the resume has done its job of getting Brent in for an interview where he can lay the groundwork for handling the issue.
Brent let the spotlight shine on his Sales Management job titles by putting each of them on its own line. He felt his sales job titles would be a good way to tell an employer he has good interpersonal skills and is goal-oriented. This helps Brent paint the picture of professional friendliness with no hint of workplace conflict.
Brent used Human Resources skill headings under each job title to show that although he has never officially held a human resources title, he's had sufficient experience using the required human resources skills. By making these skill headings bold, Brent also draws the reader's attention to his transferable skills.
Under all his job titles, especially his most recent one where he got fired, Brent wrote strong bullet point statements about relevant achievements with quantifiable results. His resume makes him look like a success-story ready to take on a new challenge.
Note: Brent's achievements are not about sales even though they are placed under sales job titles. They're all about human resources. Why? Because he's marketing himself as a human resources person, not as a sales person.
Brent ended his resume by emphasizing leadership, which he's demonstrated in his volunteer work. Notice how he used the heading "Civic Leadership" instead of "Volunteerism" or "Community Service" to give his unpaid work even more value.
This resume was a success even before Brent sent it to employers and recruiters because it helped heal his wounded pride. His resume:
Being fired is never pleasant, but it does happen. In Brent's case, he used his resume as an opportunity to make the best of it for both his job search and his state of mind.