CV Writing: explaining dismissal

Thursday, January 21st, 2010 - CV Writing, discipline, Employment, How to Write a CV, job search

CV Writing: explaining dismissal

A bit harsh?

Many job seekers, when attempting to write their own Professional CV, think they face more problems that they actually do in their job application. As I have said before, the key to thinking about any perceived CV Writing difficulty is to think of the explanation from the employers point of view: what would the employer need to hear?

However, there are a few hard issues which face some job seekers, which through both the action and any supporting job reference tend to look initially exactly the same. These areas include:

  • Dismissal
  • Prosecution – particularly theft
  • Prison sentences

I will add to this list the lack of a driving license, in the form of it being removed or rescinded by the DVLA. A lack of a driving license severely reduces your chances of employment, the fact it is rescinded even more so.

This article deals with dealing with dismissal, but the strategy explained here will work for many of these hard issues.

Unfair Dismissal?

The first issue with any dismissal is to accept it. Whatever the circumstances or issues involved, just accept it. Many job seekers and job applicants I have dealt with as a recruiter and CV Writer, have still been worried many years later by the fact that they were dismissed. Remember, employers will look at your most recent work history (seen as the last three years), with anything up to five years of age is considered relevant. After that, much like the law decrees, it is purely history and nothing more.

Hence, unless you have an ongoing legal case against any or all of your former employers, you don’t have to a legitimate concern.

Wrongful dismissal?

While many job seekers think they have been dismissed, when looking at the facts of the situation, most often it will be found presently that technically they just resigned. Why is there this clear gap between job seeker perception and fact? In modern law, the no-win no-fee agreement has brought about a huge shift away from hard conclusion for one party, to mutual agreement. No-win no-fee lawyers have persued errant employers who have dismissed good employees for poor reasons, which has resulted in an amount of case law and resultant large payouts: some greater than if the employee had been killed. The result is that many employers now will seek more mutually acceptable reasons for dismissal, which most often results in the employee resigning. Amy future reference will hence simply state that the employee left the companies employment over a factual dismissal.

Before starting a job search, you should always check your references, which is your legal right to do so. Contact the HR Department of any employer in the last five years/that you intend to take a reference from, and gain a copy of your reference. This will normally be a single sheet of paper, that states the dates between which you were employed, and the reason for your leaving.

If it states “left company” or similar, then it means that you simply resigned, you were not dismissed.


What is the situation if you were factually dismissed, say for something as serious as stealing? Taking the position of “what would the employer ask/think,” then their questions will be:

  • How recent was the incident?
  • What did you learn, and have you over come the problem?

I have written successfully CV’s for ex-convicts who are out of jail by less than three months, but the factor always in overcoming such issues to gaining employment was a combination of:

  • Candidates knowing exactly what they wanted to do
  • Being able to explain in the job interview simply (ie – less than 30seconds), why they got themselves into the situation, and why it is behind them

Most good explanations take less than 1minute to do this, and focus more in that short summary about what they learnt and why they won’t repeat the situation, over what the situation was. The template I use to coach them is the same as that for the Elevator Pitch.

Most job seekers who feel they have a problem in a dismissal situation, tend to focus on the what went on rather than now. This indicates that they are not actually over the dismissal, hence giving the employer a further reason not to employ them. Focus on the learning and where you want to go next, over the dismissal.

Good Luck!


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3 Responses to “CV Writing: explaining dismissal”

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  3. Jacob A. Swanson Says:

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