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I was reminded of this question from How to answer "Have you ever been terminated?"

Awhile ago I was fired for just cause. I still think it was unfair and was looking into legal actions, but decided it wouldn't be worth my time or money.

  1. The company I worked for fired many people for just cause
  2. It was in the news that the company was undergoing massive layoffs, and firing for just cause is cheaper because they don't have to pay severance
  3. When I asked why I was being fired I was only given "I had hung up on a customer and wasn't meeting expectations". I admit I did hangup but the customer was swearing at me and I reached my snapping point. I admit, if the expectation was I'm ok being sworn at, the job wasn't for me but I wish we had a frank talk before getting firing.

Many job applications have a tick box for if you have been fired before. Since I can only answer yes or no, what should I do? I'm afraid it would be used as some sort of automatic filter where applicants who put "yes" are automatically disqualified.

My ideas are:

  1. If it's a paper form put "yes" but beside it add some sort of note. This wouldn't work if it's a website.
  2. Put no but then if I get to an interview, bring it up and explain I put no but actually was fired for what I believe to be unjust reasons.
  • "Many job applications have a tick box for ..." fortunately not many have this. So, good luck! – Fattie Apr 18 at 11:19
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    You've been asking about this particular indicent for nearly 2 years now. At this point, I believe the question is less about what you do, but rather why is it still haunting you? You should move on, and not worry about it. – Dan Apr 18 at 18:46
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    Also coming to think of it, if you been fired less than a year working there, maybe don't include it as part of your application? This is a "third option" choice since you wouldn't have to answer anything except for a slight gap in history maybe but if it's less than a year, maybe 6 months, you probably won't get asked about it. – Dan Apr 19 at 12:37
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Many job applications have a tick box for if you have been fired before. Since I can only answer yes or no, what should I do?

If you are presented with a yes/no check-box, and you suspect the firing will come up on a background screen, it is better do as Joe Strazzere says and be truthful even though the firing was unjust.

But there's another angle to this that you can try: side-step the web-based application process entirely.

From the point of view of the employer, the entire point of web-based application forms is to cast a very wide net to capture as many potential candidates as possible and then to ruthlessly cull the numbers down to a few "perfectly" qualified candidates. And yes, any deviations from what they're expecting will automatically disqualify you if the number of candidates is large enough.

But THAT (web-based application process) is NOT how most jobs are filled. Most jobs are filled by referrals by professional or casual acquaintances. Instead of throwing your resume into a web-based vat with hundreds of others, your chances are better if you can somehow make contact with the key people involved in hiring decisions.

If you make some form of human contact with the hiring manager, you won't be nearly as vulnerable to automatic exclusion because of something ridiculous.

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Many job applications have a tick box for if you have been fired before. Since I can only answer yes or no, what should I do? I'm afraid it would be used as some sort of automatic filter where applicants who put "yes" are automatically disqualified.

My ideas are:

If it's a paper form put "yes" but beside it add some sort of note. This wouldn't work if it's a website.

Put no but then if I get to an interview, bring it up and explain I put no but actually was fired for what I believe to be unjust reasons.

If your only choices are "Yes" and "No", then you must choose Yes, since you were indeed fired. It's far better to admit you were fired than to be determined to be a liar.

If you can include comments or explanations on the application form, then explain more there. But even there, tread carefully. You admit to hanging up on a customer. And while that feels unfair to you, it might not feel unfair to a potential employer who would worry that you would do the same while working for them.

Better would be to emphasize your strengths and perhaps discuss the widespread layoffs in which you were caught as part of your cover letter.

Many employers will not automatically disqualify someone who was fired before if they are otherwise qualified. If you apply to such an employer, you'll have a chance to discuss the situation more fully. Be prepared to talk about it.

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    " It's far better to admit you were fired than to be determined to be a liar." Indeed, in England and Wales (and I suspect other jurisdictions are similar), lying on an application form is a criminal offence (specifically "fraud"). Being terminated for cause is bad, having a criminal conviction for dishonesty is much worse. – Martin Bonner Apr 18 at 11:59
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    I really think your last paragraph is very important. It's rarely the case that any single data point results in an instant hard rejection regardless of the rest of the application, and I've never worked for an employer that immediately rejected people who had been terminated in the past - doing so would mean eliminating a large portion of your applicant pool. On the flipside, every employer I've ever hired for did ask this question on the application, so it's important to have an approach for how to deal with it... – dwizum Apr 18 at 12:37
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    @MartinBonner in the US I believe it's only fraud in specific circumstances, but in every circumstance it's a good way to ensure the employer hires somebody else. – Lee Abraham Apr 18 at 18:12
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    Any employer that is halfway decent should ENCOURAGE their employees to hang up on abusive(!) customers, and the only one who should be "fired" in such a case is the customer. – ThiefMaster Apr 18 at 18:34
  • No, luckily not, and I do realize that call centers have shitty policies. That doesn't make it better that employees are expected to accept verbal abuse from awful customers. If being abuse generally meant being hung up and terminated as a customer in case it happens again, people would think twice before being a dick on the phone. – ThiefMaster Apr 18 at 18:41
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If they are explicitly asking for a yes/no answer chances are if you tick yes you will be either not considered for the job or investigated further (probably the former).

Either way if a company asks this it means it is important to them and if you tick no they will probably try to find out if you are lying anyway. Putting this question openly in an application is there to save everyone time.

I think the best option is to not bother applying at all to that particular job or tick the truthful answer and hope for the best.

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    The best option is to not bother applying? What if this is the OPs dream job? It's a pretty bold statement that you're making. – Gregory Currie Apr 18 at 6:05
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    @GregoryCurrie OP could always lie and hope not to get found out of course. Or read my whole post - I said maybe just apply, be honest and hope for the best. It might just be a case of them asking for clarification. – solarflare Apr 18 at 6:08
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    I agree, there's no point lying - even if you get the job by lying, what then, you spend your entire time working there worrying that the company will find out you lied on your application and terminate you? Doesn't sound like fun. However, I would say apply anyway but just be honest - we don't know why they're asking, as @solarflare says, it could be important to them in which case OP might not find it a good culture fit - best to find that out early, or it could just be a stats exercise, or used to determine which set of questions they provide their interviewers. – delinear Apr 18 at 7:48
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Awhile ago I was fired for just cause. I still think it was unfair

This is contradictory. If it was indeed unfair, then it wasn't just cause. A company claiming just cause is not the same thing as it being just cause.

Your possible responses depend on the exact wording. If it just asks "Have you been fired?", that would is weirdly vague language.

If the wording is "Have you ever had your employment terminated for just cause?", and you honestly believed that your firing wasn't justified, then it would not be a lie to not check the box. However, you need to be prepared for the possibility of negative consequences for doing so; if the company you are applying to becomes aware of the firing, they may consider you to have lied.

If the wording is "Has any company ever claimed just cause in terminating your employment?", then the honest thing to do is to check it, regardless of whether you think the firing was justified.

Frankly, the former wording is rather abusive, as it requires an applicant to either risk be branded a liar, or prejudice any action they take against their former employer (if they dispute the "for cause" designation after having checked the box, the former employer conceivably could use that as an admission). I have to wonder about the legality of that. Considering these issues, an option to consider would be to attach a note to the application along the lines of "Due to the possibility of ongoing legal action, I have declined to comment on whether my firing was for just cause".

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