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If prospective employers know you lost your last job because of theft, they’ll likely hesitate to hire you. You’ll have to prove that the offense was an isolated incident and that you’ve learned from the experience and won’t make the same mistake. If the theft wasn’t significant and your previous supervisor believes it won’t happen again, the company might even agree to give you a neutral reference that doesn’t mention the theft.
Decide Whether to Disclose
You might not have to reveal why you lost your job, especially if you weren’t charged with a crime that would show up on a background check. However, employers might discover the truth another way, and if they’ve already hired you they might fire you. Determine what your last company will say if contacted by employers. Some organizations only verify basic information such as job titles and dates of employment, but not the cause for termination. Also, ask your previous supervisor to let you know if he isn’t comfortable giving you a good reference. If he isn’t, ask colleagues or people in your network who are happy to vouch for you.
Don’t Dwell on It
If you decide to reveal why you lost your job, wait until you’re certain an employer is seriously interested in you. Mentioning it on your resume or in your cover letter will likely prevent you from getting an interview, but if you wait until you meet with the employer, you can explain the incident and answer any questions he might have. Keep your explanation short and then steer the conversation toward your qualifications or why you want the job. If you spend too much time explaining what happened, the employer might think you’re trying to justify your actions or make excuses.
You might not be able to re-enter the job market at the level you were at before you got fired. Consider all options, not just opportunities similar to the jobs you held before. If you held a high-ranking, executive-level job, employers might not feel comfortable trusting you in such a high-stakes role immediately after an incident of theft. Instead, you might need to approach your job hunt as you did when starting out, looking at entry-level positions and anything that can help you get your foot in the door. Once you’re there, you can prove to employers that you can handle moving up the ladder.
Reach Out to Your Network
A glowing recommendation can go a long way toward restoring your reputation and encouraging employers to look past your history. Turn to trusted friends and colleagues, people you volunteer with and others who know what you have to offer. Ask them to refer you to employers and put in a good word for you. For some employers, a personal recommendation is as important as a stellar resume, and they might not delve as deeply into why you left your last job.
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