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I was written up and I resigned from my position as case manager. Should I allow prospective employers to contact my previous employer?

Monday July 29, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I was written up for something minor and I have resigned from my position as case manager. I feel this has done some damage to my career. Should I allow prospective employers to contact my previous employer? Should I bring it up in an interview?

Concerned About Career

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Concerned About Career,

It's always challenging to respond to this type of question without knowing more details. That being said, as long as you resigned with proper notice and didn't burn any bridges in the process, there is no reason not to allow a prospective employer to contact your prior employer for employment verification. If you were to say they can't contact them, that would raise a red flag. Besides, if you were only written up for something minor and otherwise have a clean record there, there shouldn't be anything negative revealed by that employer upon employment verification.

Asking for references is a entirely different matter. If asked for work-related references, think of someone you worked for or with that you had good working relationship with. Then, get that person's permission to list them as a reference. You don't want him/her to be surprised or caught off guard. Not only is this courteous, but it ensures that your choice of reference will be comfortable saying positive things about you. If a prospective reference isn't comfortable giving a reference, that person usually will politely decline. Knowing that upfront is better than having her/him speak to a prospective employer and say less than favorable things.

That you resigned, rather than getting fired, is not necessarily a problem at all. Nurses resign from jobs all the time for a variety of reasons. It may all come down to how you address the question, "Why did you leave your last job?" Without knowing how long you were there or what type of job you might look for next, you might consider saying something such as, "I wanted to expand my horizons and broaden my experience. I felt it was time to seek a new position to keep things fresh and interesting. I'm looking for new challenges" If you say it in a light-hearted fashion with a smile on your face, this should satisfy many employers.

Because of your fears and concerns, read the article: “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces) and follow the advice there. Also read: “Ten Steps to a successful job search”(www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Ten-Steps).

Since you are unemployed, look for volunteer work as a nurse while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to account for your time and gives structure to your week. It helps distract you from your troubles, build and maintain confidence and expose you to new people and skills. Volunteering often leads to paid employment once you get your foot in the door.

This is a minor bump in the road. You'll be able to get back into the game with a little patience and due diligence. You may even find a really great job that is a better fit for you than the one you left.

Best wishes,
Donna


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.