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Should I mention a job termination either on my resumé or in an interview?


Dear Donna,

I graduated from an ADN program May 2009 and finally got a position in a hospital as an ICU RNA. Just as my nursing career was taking off, my personal life was falling apart. I had what I thought was a perfect relationship with the father of my 5-year-old son and had even discussed marriage in the future with him. To my surprise, the day I was scheduled to take my first attempt at the NCLEX exam, I found out he was cheating on me. I was absolutely devastated and fell into a deep depression. I struggled to make it to work. I was still on my 90-day orientation period, so inevitably I was terminated for my poor attendance record. Of course, the icing on the cake was that I failed the boards and did not have the confidence or self-esteem to give it another try until June of this year.

I signed up for an online NCLEX review class and just completed it. I am very confident that it was exactly what I needed to pass my boards. In the meantime, I have been looking for jobs in the medical field as a nursing assistant to not only gain experience, but also to spruce up my resumé.

I recently applied at a mental hospital where my best friend works, and just found out that I was not selected for the job. I am absolutely devastated because I feel like it is somehow my termination from my first RN position coming back to haunt me! I debated for months whether or not to be honest about my termination or to omit it from my applications and resumé. This being the first job I have applied for, I decided to go ahead and omit it. The mental hospital will not tell me why I did not get the job, but I am assuming they have found out something — maybe by calling a reference from a job prior to the termination who stated my reason for leaving was that I had gotten an RN position at another hospital. So, my question is this: Is honesty the best policy in this situation? Should I come clean to potential employers about my past or try to hide it? If I come clean about it, should I do it only during the interview so I can explain myself or should I allude to it on my application for employment as well? There is only one other hospital in my hometown where I have never tried to get an RN position before, and I want to do it right.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Worried,

First let me say that in spite of all you have been through, I admire you for picking yourself up, taking the review course and sitting for the exam again to finish what you started and get on with your life. It shows that you are strong, determined, and resilient.

Because you were on probation or “provisional employment” when you were let go, you do not really need to include it on your resumé or an application. I also don’t think that has anything to do with why you didn’t get the recent job. The job market is very tight for nurses right now, and I suspect your lack of recent work experience is more of a challenge. Try to keep everything in perspective.

Since you should hear very soon about your NCLEX results, perhaps it is just as well that you didn’t get the position. If you get your RN license, you will want to seek an RN position rather than an aide or tech position.

Regarding the position at the “mental hospital,” can your friend be any help to you on the inside? Can she speak to a nursing supervisor and put in a good word for you? Networking is always a great way to find and get a job. Don’t be afraid to use your contacts and ask for help. And if you prefer to apply to the other hospital you mention, then maybe you’re better off holding out until you get your NCLEX results to apply there.

When asked why you didn’t work or get your license sooner, simply say that you had personal issues that needed your full attention but that those are resolved and that you are ready and eager to launch your nursing career.

I also recommend that you start volunteering at a medical facility somewhere now while you seek paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere. It will also give you recent relevant experience to put on your resumé. You’ll make good contacts and be able to hone old skills and learn new ones. Additionally, it can help you get your mind off your troubles and start to rebuild your confidence. Besides, volunteering often leads to paid employment.

You can definitely do this. Persistence and determination will always win out in the end!

Best wishes,


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By | 2010-09-24T00:00:00-04:00 September 24th, 2010|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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