“I got fired” is something no dental hygienist hopes to ever have to say. But for those of you who have, there is hope to rebound and still have a great career.
Employers have that ability to pull the trigger and while some have legitimate concerns over performance, others don’t. And I’ve heard plenty of stories of hygienists fired for less-than-legitimate reasons. I won’t get into employer ethics and legalities today.
Instead, let’s talk about where to go from there so you can remain employable.
Tell an employer, “I got fired,” and they may or may not take your side. But either way, it will raise some suspicion. And whether justified or not, it will be harder for you to shake that label.
Synonyms such as “dismissed or “let go” carry the same meaning, but not as much negative punch. Use them in place of “fired.”
Consider Keeping it Private
Which brings me into the second point. You don’t always have to acknowledge your dismissal. In fact, if you don’t need that information on your resume then leave it off.
There’s no crime or violation of ethics for omitting information on a resume. Resumes are marketing documents, designed to showcase your relevant successes. Some dental hygienists leave off certain parts of their work history to save space or remain relevant. We also don’t disclose all kinds of personal information on a resume.
The only concern is where this might potentially leave a gaping hole in your work history. Sometimes this is easily hidden if you work in multiple offices. Or, you could consider not disclosing the name of the office, by listing it as a “General Practice,” for example.
When you feel compelled to share a dismissal, don’t end it there. You always want the incident, and why it happened, to become the lesser part of the explanation.
The bigger part of the explanation should be focused on where you went from there. What did you do to change or improve? What adjustments did you spot and then address? Talk about actions you took and results they produced. That comes across as much more responsible and impressive.
Was your situation unfair? Distance yourself from the situation. Strip yourself of the emotion to help the employer see you are wanting to treat it with fairness.
I would even go so far as to mention something you liked about your former employer. For example, “I really enjoyed the way they handled new patients and they were generally kind to me – we just had a difference of opinion about how much time each patient needed.”
The point is to take the high road and never bad-mouth a former employer. It won’t land you the job – even if you are 100 percent correct.
Leveraging References and Testimonials
Finally, use written references and testimonials from that job to demonstrate you were a great employee. Sometimes employers who feel a little bit guilty about the situation will offer to write a letter of reference. Take them up on it, even if you feel bitter. This can help smooth over the gap in your employment history.
If you got fired in the past, or recently, it’s not the end of the world. You can bounce back, but avoid using the harsh label; consider not disclosing the information; be honest and make adjustments where necessary; take the high road; and leverage information that demonstrates you are a great employee.
One final thing. How many of you have heard of Heather Dorniden? She was a college track athlete for University of Minnesota. In 2008, during the Big 10 Indoor Track Championships, 600 Meter race, Heather took a nasty fall. But you won’t believe what she did next – you see, her fall should have been the end of the race for her, but it wasn’t. Watch this…