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I worked as facilitator and support staff for an outdoor program at a college for three years. The director of the outdoor program has often friended my coworkers and classmates but treated me different from my coworkers. She often said that I ask too many questions. Most of my questions were based on the job, on how to complete a task, or whether I am doing something the right way.

My coworkers and classmates would often complain about me to my supervisor (the director of the program). Yet, when my supervisor approached me about the complaints she was often very vague about who said what. She refused to tell me who complained about me. I often felt like my supervisor was attacking me when she questions my actions, that I don’t even know what she was referring to. Sometimes she would instant message me from home and then tell me about her family problems. I often felt confused about how to do my job and how to keep professional. The supervisor friended many of my coworkers and classmates on Facebook but refused my request for friend on Facebook. I often felt as if she played favoritism, yet she claimed that she did not.

Now, I have been let go from that job and she has not given me any formal termination letter or feedback meeting. How do I ask for an appointment to meet with her to gather feedback on my job performance in order to answer to my future prospective employers? How do I state my experience with outdoor program on my resume and job applications, without using my former employer contact information? How do I discuss my experience with my future employers?

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    You have 2 very distinct questions here. I would edit one of them out and ask a separate question. – SaggingRufus May 25 '18 at 12:19
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Based on your question, I think you've been omitting key parts of this story.

You mention having been fired, but not the reason for being fired. However, you seem to be very averse to future employers contacting your former employer, which leads me to believe that there is a conflict that led to your termination that you're not talking about.

Without the full picture, we can't really help you. I added the below feedback in response to specific things that you mention; because I honestly get the feeling that her story is going to be vastly different from yours; and that you and her being on different wavelengths is likely a large contributor to the friction you encountered.

You mention that the supervisor was overly personal and that you wanted to keep it professional, but then you complain that she didn't friend you on Facebook.
Based on this (and several other things you mention), I get the feeling that you have very mixed expectations about how to go about workplace interactions. It's hard to pin down what exactly you expect out of your working environment.


How to ask for feedback on job performance from former employer?
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She often said that I ask too many questions.

She already gave you some feedback.

She often said that I ask too many questions. Most of my questions were based on the job, on how to complete a task, or whether I am doing something the right way.

Just because the questions were on topic doesn't mean that you didn't ask too many of them. It's good to ask questions when in doubt, but there is a line of reasonability here.

As a clear example, imagine if you always clarified people by confirming their last name.

Can you give this paper to Jenny?
Do you mean Jenny Smith?

The question is appropriate if you're talking about one client out of thousands or you work with more than one Jenny, but quickly becomes cumbersome if Jenny is a direct colleague of yours and/or the context already made it abundantly clear that this was in reference to a specific Jenny.

She refused to tell me who complained about me.

That is appropriate behavior. If she mentions who said it, before even talking to you, she basically pits you and the person against each other.

Do you want to be able to talk to your supervisor in confidence if you feel the need to? Then allow your colleagues to do the same. That includes having the supervisor not disclose their source, in order to protect the confidence in which that conversation took place.

Sometimes she would instant message me from home and then tell me about her family problems.

This sounds like a personal conversation. It can be inappropriate based on the topic of conversation; but having a private conversation in and of itself is allowed.

Since you don't mention what it was about, I'm going to assume it was nothing wildly inappropriate.

The supervisor friended many of my coworkers and classmates on Facebook but refused my request for friend on Facebook.

Just because you make a friend at work doesn't mean that everyone at work should now be your friend.

Also, why mention classmates? She presumably friended some people, some of whom also happened to be your classmates. There is no reason to think that this in any way revolves around you.

treated me different from my coworkers

Other than the not friending on Facebook, how so?

I often felt confused about how to do my job and how to keep professional.

Staying professional is commendable. But outright refusing to make a personal connection can of course be an issue in and of itself.

This is just a guess, but your "strictly professional" approach may have been the cause for not being friended on Facebook. (whether this guess is correct or not does not in any way change what I said before, she's free to friend who she wants).

Now, I have been let go from that job and she has not given me any formal termination letter or feedback meeting.

Was this an official job, or a volunteer position? Because official terminations need to be put on paper, as far as I'm aware.

Feedback meetings, however, are not required. You're free to ask for one, but there's no implicit expectation for her to offer it before you ask.

Just ask her for feedback. This doesn't even need to be a meeting; but feel free to ask for one if you feel it needs to be done in scope of a meeting.
Your question strongly implies that you're looking for a feedback meeting in an official capacity, but I'm not sure why you keep it this official. I assume this is a matter of personal growth. You can ask her (or any of your coworkers) personally for feedback, if you're open to criticism and are willing to accept the feedback without arguing.

If you're expecting a debate instead of feedback, don't even ask for the meeting. That is not the point of asking for feedback.

How do I state my experience with outdoor program on my resume and job applications, without using my former employer contact information?

Depends on the culture. Where I'm from, references are not a requirement on a resume. However, based on your phrasing, I assume they are expected where you're from.

Omitting the contact information defeats the purpose of providing a reference.

Why are you intending to omit it? Are you expecting your former employer to completely tear you down when asked for a reference? From what I gather, she was a relatively kind person, and you didn't mention anything that suggests that she's bearing a grudge towards you.

Even if you didn't get along with her (or she with you), that doesn't mean she will go out of her way to ruin your future careeer.

How do I discuss my experience with my future employers?

I'm not sure what you're asking here. You simply talk about your experience.

Are you asking how to skirt the topic of being fired? Don't. Lying during an interview will negatively affect your employment prospects more than owning up to past mistakes.

While you should avoid lying, there is merit to picking the right language.

  • Don't focus on what your former employer did wrong.
  • Don't bring up specific issues. It implies that you hold a grudge.
  • Don't talk badly about anyone from your former job. It suggests that you're going to do the same about your future employer once you leave their company.

There are better ways of addressing this:

  • Mention that you were on different wavelengths, without suggesting who was right and who wasn't.
  • "The job sucked" and "The job didn't quite fit me" are expressing a very similar thing in a very different way. Pick the second option.
  • Focus on what you've learned from past experiences, rather than focusing on making declarative statements about past experiences. For example, say "I learned to become more self-reliant" as opposed to "They said I asked too many questions".
  • In the US, it is not required to give a reason for termination and that is generally the preference. If they give a reason, they may have to defend it in court, but in at-will employment states, they never have to defend not giving a reason. They do generally have to pay unemployment if you are terminated without a reason. – HLGEM May 25 '18 at 13:34
  • @HLGEM: Fully agree on the legal facts, but observe the context here: A college outdoor program, run by students (since OP mentions having classmates), where personal talks and Facebook friending is common enough, and OP has in fact already received feedback before (asking too many questions). We don't even know if OP was officially employed since they claim to not have received anything in writing when fired. This seems pretty far removed from a situation where a company refuses to give out a reason to avoid law suits. – Flater May 25 '18 at 13:42
  • if the student was an official paid employee, it doesn't matter that it was a college program, they are still subject to labor laws and lawsuits for wrongful termination. – HLGEM May 25 '18 at 13:59
  • @HLGEM So is a mom and pop store with official employees, but that doesn't automatically mean they're going to refuse to give a reason. – Flater May 25 '18 at 17:21
  • If they were going to give a reason, they would have done it at the time of the firing. – HLGEM May 25 '18 at 17:51
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Is there one of your former colleagues that you did get along with well? Use that person as a reference. References do not have to be supervisors. This should help offset anything negative said about you in the employment verification part of the background check. You should put your actual supervisor's name on the form for background investigations, but when they ask for references, feel free to put down any former coworker.

Be aware that in the US, they can terminate for no reason in most states. That means that they will not often give a reason because you cannot sue them for wrongful termination if they gave no reason.

  • I am generally a friendly hardworking person who likes to talk. One of my pet peeves on the job is when people were not helping with cleaning up after finishing activities, they tend to talk and fool around while I am cleaning up. My coworkers used to complain about certain difficult tasks while I wanted to do the tasks but my supervisor would not allow me to do the tasks because she felt it was too advanced for me to do. She never took the time to teach me how to do it myself or allow me to practice the task. I wanted to improve on the job and be able to function in all areas of the job. – J. Hag May 25 '18 at 15:44
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    Please, please , please read several books on Office politics before starting your next position. You managed to upset their organizational culture and that is why they let you go. You need to understand how to fit into an organization. – HLGEM May 25 '18 at 17:13
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The previous employer is under no obligation to confront you about why you were terminated. So requesting a meeting or making contact with the employer could lead to legal issues for you. My recommendation is to simply drop it and move on. Do not initiate contact with them on social media, email, or telephone. Also, unless you were close friends with a co-worker, do not initiate any contact with any employee. Usually in situations where someone was fired, employers tyipcally do not allow for their employees to contact with the fired employee while in business.

Explain to future employers that you were let go of. Be honest, up front, and only state factual events, not personal opinions. Explain what you have learned and how you plan to move forward.

  • So requesting a meeting or making contact with the employer could lead to legal issues for you How so? Asking for feedback is mostly a personal matter. While the employer is free to refuse doing so, that doesn't mean that it's illegal to ask. Unless you have any relevant references? Usually in situations where someone was fired, employers tyipcally do not allow for their employees to contact with the fired employee while in business. Do you have any reference for this? When can an employer control their employees' personal lives? – Flater May 25 '18 at 13:22
  • In past employment, I had two co-workers fired. During both of them, the employer sent a mass email stating that no one could make contact with the employee while in the business. Yes, if you are on the clock, they can tell you who they want to contact. As far as legal issue, making multiple contact with the employer could lead to harassment or tresspassing charges. Generally speaking, employers want to avoid confronting or explaining their action so they will avoid at all cost. – Dan May 25 '18 at 13:24
  • the employer sent a mass email stating that no one could make contact with the employee while in the business That's not a legal reference. That can basically be a strongly worded suggestion with no legal backing. making multiple contact with the employer is not what you first said. Your answer refers to making contact, not repeatedly harassing your employer to respond to your request. Generally speaking, employers want to avoid confronting or explaining their action so they will avoid at all cost. Big business, sure. But this context is different. OP established that [..] – Flater May 25 '18 at 13:28
  • Correct, you're free to do whatever you want. With or without legal references. But whatever the employer says usually goes. Plus we're not lawyers here, so it's not a debate about legal merits of someone's action nor does one have to cite a legal reference as opposed to personal experiences or opinion on matters to address questions. – Dan May 25 '18 at 13:29
  • [..] the supervisor already provided feedback (OP asking too many questions), and also has personally connected with people in the office. OP is also a student (since he mentions classmates). This is not a big business office, this is an outdoor program run (partially) run by students. – Flater May 25 '18 at 13:30

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