This is totally hypothetical based on the recent Ryanair debacle. In no way have I screwed up at work (today, at least), and I don't work for Ryanair.

So I'm the HR manager who decided to switch our company's annual leave year from March-April to January-December. I'm sure I had a good reason to do this, and it should have somehow benefited the company, but I didn't do a proper CBA and now we're having to cancel flights all over the place because all our pilots now have a load of annual leave to take before the end of the year and I've been sacked for it.

Any potential employer receiving my CV in the next 6-12 months will see my previous employer was Ryanair, assume I was somehow connected to the very public problem that has cost the company millions of pounds and made them a laughing stock and will put my application straight in the bin.

How do I recover from this? Every job I've ever started, I've had to at least vaguely account for my time up until that point. A six or ten year gap would look very suspicious unless I lie and say I was a house husband for example. The problem with that is that I might want to list some valuable experience on my CV that I gained at Ryanair. Is it acceptable to list my previous employer as something like "undisclosed" or "prefer not to say"? Without outright lying, would you be able to spin it to sound like you were working under an NDA or for a secret government service or something? What do people in this situation do?

  • 2
    If this issue really was the result of one mistake (unclear by the article you posted), I wouldn't assume that the individual responsible was fired. There is a famous business legend about an exec refusing to take an employee's letter of resignation after a monumental screw-up because he "had just spent one million dollars on training" said employee. People make mistakes... it's part of business. It's primarily when those mistakes show a pattern or a defect in character that people lose their jobs.
    – user48276
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 16:36

3 Answers 3


Don't try to hide it at all.

You don't need to be the one to bring it up in an interview, but if it does come up don't hide from it. Admit that you made a mistake and that you learned an important lesson as a result, and that moving forward you will be more careful about this sort of thing.

Employers aren't interested in hiring people who try to hide their mistakes. They are interested in hiring people who are experienced and professional - and one important way to gain experience is by messing up and then learning from it.

  • I agree with that, but I'm thinking more like this won't even get to the interview stage as soon as they see you were an HR manager with Ryanair. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.
    – Darren
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 15:13
  • 4
    I admit that's a tough nut to crack, but taking action to disguise your online resume/profile in order to try and hide your association to this company will also look bad and may prevent you from getting interviews in itself, if employers realize the deception. In regards to potentially being excluded that early in the process, I think all you really CAN do is ride it out.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 15:16
  • In the case of deception, I'd be more worried not about employers detecting it early and excluding from interviews, but them detecting it late and firing because of it after the new job has already started. I mean, messing up is forgivable, but active deception regarding it generally isn't, it's a breach of trust that's valid grounds for termination with cause.
    – Peteris
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 0:54

First don't assume everyone has heard of the debacle or cares about it.

You basically behave the same way everyone who has been fired behaves. You put the job on your resume and you prepare to answer why you left the job by explaining that you were fired and what happened and how you personally have changed so that the problem doesn't come up in the new job. If possible, bring up some good things you did before this mistake happened. Then you face the fact that it will likely take longer to find a new job and you might have to set your sights lower that you might have if you were leaving this job on good terms.So you will have to apply to more companies and go on more interviews to get a new job.


An actual example:

King 5 News: "Former State Sentator Joe Fain named Bellevue Chamber of Commerce" notes,

“Former State Senator Joe Fain has been named CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.

Fain lost his re-election bid back in November after an allegation of rape was made against him.

Candace Faber alleges Fain attacked her in a hotel room more than 10 years ago. Fain denies the allegation.”

Q13 Fox: "Ex-State-Sentator Joe Fain to lead Bellevue Chamber of Commerce" notes,

Fain served in the Legislature for eight years starting in 2010. He lost his re-election bid in November 2018 as lawmakers agreed to launch an investigation into an allegation made by a woman who said Fain raped her in 2007.

So, this government official lost his job in an election, and yet he later got another prominent job. The new organization released a statement, part of which said:

“In the absence of a conclusion from an official investigation, we did our due diligence via a thorough interview and reference process. This included interviewing and seeking feedback from a large number of people who have known or worked with Joe over the years. They consistently spoke to his track record as a very effective bipartisan leader, advocate, and problem solver – and to his character.”

So, what do you do? You find an organization that will be sympathetic, or for whatever other motivation, won't entirely hold the past against you. How do you find such an organization? The same way as you find any other job: hunt. Search. And in the face of something negative, you may need to strive harder (and, unfortunately, maybe even compromise more) in order to accomplish that goal. But that's what a person needs to do.

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