I am unemployed after being fired from my job at a community hospital where I worked for 18 years. My first concern is what the employer, including my manager and HR, can say about me to potential employers. My second concern is about what those outside my department in the institution can say. I am worried I may not receive any positive references and because I have not looked for a job for so long, Im not sure what to do.
Dear Nancy replies:
Being terminated from a position is a humiliating experience and it is unfortunate this happened after you worked at the facility for so many years. It is difficult to know what will be said about you and by whom and unfortunately there is little you can do to control what people will say.
You should know most employers say very little to prospective employers about former employees due to the concern the former employer could be sued for saying something untrue or for sharing private information that has nothing to do with the former employee’s work. As a result, a standard approach is to share how long the former employee worked at the facility, the date the employee left employment and sometimes whether the former employer would re-hire the employee.
Because there is little, if any, control over what might be said about you, you must approach seeking work elsewhere in a positive manner by emphasizing what your responsibilities and successes were while employed at the facility. When asked why you left there after so many years, you should share that you were terminated and you felt the termination unfair for whatever reasons. You should also stress that you were a loyal and long-standing employee, provided good patient care and will bring those characteristics to the new job.
It may take you a while to find the right job, but if you don’t try, you will be doing yourself a disservice. Your termination was a setback, to be sure. You can move forward, seek a new job and start a new chapter in your career.