About Author

Throughout my 15+ year career in resume writing, career coaching, higher education, and working with nonprofit job seekers, I’ve used an approach that is nurturing yet practical and driven to achievement. As Audience Development and Content Manager at Idealist for our online publication, Idealist Careers, I bring relevant tips to today's social impact job seekers and career changers with sensitivity towards the challenges they face. I also am the writer of our career advice column, "Ask Victoria". Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I share with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Have a question? Ask at askvictoria@idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @_AskVictoria.

7 Comments

  1. I experienced something similar and I am convinced that my honest approach and the manner in which I described the unfortunate set of circumstances was critical to securing my next position. I decided not to include the job on my resume and planned to discuss the omission in an in person interview if granted one. I brought a revised copy of my resume with me to the interview and gave it to the interviewer after I explained the details.
    It is a crap shoot though because a lot is riding on the interviewer’s objectivity and ability to see past the fact that the situation has a negative overtone. I got lucky because my interviewer listened and I mean really listened. I kept my emotions level and shared with my interviewer that I took ownership of not addressing specific concerns and actions early on for fear of being seen as a new hire troublemaker. I explained that my intentions were to help improve the workflow and the process. My manager saw it as a way for me to undermine her management. True in my opinion she was not an effective manager and I thought I could help by being respectful in approaching her in confidence but when it was obvious that my ideas were not welcome I aborted any future attempts and my manager became almost confrontational with me on a daily basis. Her behavior and lack of professionalism was affecting my productivity.
    Things worsened and I began documenting everything I could and this came in handy when I needed to file for unemployment benefits. I forwarded related emails to my personal email, made copies of documents and processes that supported my concerns and took them home and I kept a journal of daily encounters. Being uncertain about how bad it was going to get I also purchased a small digital recorder and was prepared to bring it with me to meetings with my manager but that never became necessary. I was able to provide UE with this supportive material which enabled my being able to receive my benefits in a timely manner. In the end I landed a wonderful job and the employer expressed their appreciation for the courage it took for me to tell my story. They appreciated how I remained respectful, did not bash and accepted the outcome as a bad fit.

    • Thank you so much for sharing with our audience. It sounds like you made a great choice to be honest with your interviewer in a way that was respectful and allowed you to build rapport and trust. To your success, Victoria

  2. I would like to offer a simple truth that woman manager issues are common — we, women, probably each have a story to tell. Often it is in a small employment setting without an HR or impartial company representative to intervene. The employee generally loses.

    I think that women softly abusing women as well as women feeling they can confide in a woman manager have long under-minded careers of honest, talented women – of any age. Women are not necessarily good at nurturing and advancing the careers of other women. What is a career/work issue can becomes a personal one about feeling threatened, about trust, allegiance, paying dues, etc. etc..

    Women hire women who they hope will be a confident, or work outside their role while the manager claims credit. It is nearly impossible for the employee to try to block or change this pattern once you’re in it.

    But, why try to sweep it under the rug?
    Why are we perpetuating a cover-up of poor corporate/company practices?
    Why are “they” always right and we, the employee at fault? Why lie at interviews?
    That advice seems so 1960s.

    A company worth working for knows and should expect everyone experiences a negative career issue — call it a sign of growing, or finding your path, or learning the rungs of corporate/business. They know poor management exists and women’s issues can often outweigh career ones. And that there are really few career “trouble makers” , but only only a missed opportunity to work on issues that matter.

    Hiring agents, must hear the truth. Give them an honest assessment of the issue, briefly.

    “It was not a good fit.” and here you can give reasons why: as time went on I had hoped for advancement or a change in my responsibilities; I was asked to work outside my original duties without compensation; There was a misunderstanding with my immediate manager and no avenue to discuss it… And then my work became underappreciated and I was dismissed.

    Or, how about, “I experienced an unprofessional manager.”

    It was unfortunate and that you could have resigned but didn’t, hoping for change.

    Don’t be defensive. Chances are you did nothing wrong, and if you did, learn from it.

    I believe it is important to demonstrate that you have a stake in your career, that you are able to assess a bad situation, take responsibility for it and that you are resilient, honest, and hard working . Be bold. We are moving in time when it matters.

    In fact, I’m contemplating changing my LinkedIn employment record to reflect my experience.

    • Sadly, you sound very young and it’s attitudes like yours that hamper most women. If you think female bosses are bad, wait until you learn just how cut-throat and back-stabbing male bosses are to anyone and everyone who gets in their way. Think “Republican Senators and Congressman in Obama’s 2nd term on steriods”.

      • I would like to know how one handles an interview when the hiring manager actually knows your previous supervisor or ED? I was interviewed for a position at a ‘sister’ agency and the hiring manager let me know that my name came up in an ‘organic’ conversation before my immediate supervisor left our organization and that he knew the other ‘higher upper’ and wanted to contact them before my second interview. Needless to say, its been 6 weeks since I last heard from him, even though I have reached out to him, letting him know that I was still interested in the position. The organization eliminated my position after hiring me only four months ago, due to a reorganization. I’m in another interview process where I am faced with the same situation. I don’t I have the option of leaving this employment off my resume because of the nature of the position and field. I am in agreement with the previous post regarding being honest about the reason(s) why you left or being terminated because of not ‘being a good fit’. I think terminology like these are ‘code words’ and if ‘they’ can use them, why can’t the employee use similar ‘code words’ to describe ‘them’? It is so frustrating when these hiring managers have these ‘offline’ conversations with each other that results in prospective employees not being hired.

  3. Leaving that employer off of your resume is absolutely the best policy — unless you’re applying for a government or military position. Often, a prospective employer will call all of your prior employers no matter what you say; sadly, you’ll usually loose the job offer. Very early in my career, an interviewer told me that all of my previous employers and references were stellar with one exception — I knew who, a boss who not only fired me for refusing to rip-off a church group, he even chased me to my car and started pounding his fist on the hood (after I’d gotten in), demanding the keys. The interviewer, my would-be new boss, told me the he really, really wanted to hire me anyway, but his company had a policy whereby all candidates with a bad review — even a single one — were prohibited from receiving job offers. The interviewer told me that , based on all of the praise my other references and employers heaped on me, he knew that the — lets call the bad boss the “Fist Pounder” — Fist Pounder was lying, but his hands were tied.

    My career was stalled and it took me nearly five years to get over and past that single bad work situation, so don’t suffer like I did; just leave that bad boss off. I was completely on my own financially, so when I say I suffered, believe me I really suffered. [Like your boss, he lied to Unemployment Insurance, and I kinda starved for a few months in order to pay utilities and rent.]

    Whatever you do, leave that bad boss off of your resume.

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