Q: Jill, if asked about a difficult former employer in a job interview how do I talk about this person without sounding like I’m bashing this person? I decided not to ask for a reference from her because I had no appreciation for how she lead our team. Furthermore, we didn’t get along on a personal level. How would I address this in a job interview if I was asked about my last job? Or should I just take the loss and not include it on my resumé?

A: Thanks for writing in Monique. I would suggest keeping the position on your resumé. If the former position compliments your skills and ability to perform the job you are applying for you would be jeopardizing your own future by removing it. That said, you need to be prepared to talk about the previous position, those you worked with and potentially the employer.


First off, if you are including a position on your resumé, especially your most recent, it’s crucial you provide a reference from it. If you can’t this might be seen as a red flag by future employers. Your best move would be to secure a reference from a colleague at your former job since your direct employer is not an option. Make sure it’s someone on your level or above.

Should you be asked to discuss your former employer at an interview your best strategy is to refrain from criticizing her personality, unless you can link it directly to having a negative impact it had on your job performance. An example of this would be a forgetful, tardy boss who frequently missed employee supervisions or forgot to include key achievements on employee reviews.

It’s easy to get caught up in bashing someone’s character when we don’t like them, but in a professional setting we must always be conscious of how this might shape other people’s perception of us. We always want to appear as a team player, who even within challenging environment can still collaborate to bring out the best in our fellow employees.

Q: Several years ago I got involved with the wrong crowd, made bad choices and ended up with a criminal record. Can you tell me Jill if it’s possible to get it removed? I haven’t been involved in any bad behaviour since. Beyond my short time served, I still continued working with youth and doing volunteer work to help promote anti-violence and staying in school. I want to be able to get past this so I can pursue the kinds of employment I am after. —Anonymous

A: Congratulations on all you’ve been able to achieve following your stint with the criminal justice system. This is something to be proud of as many who get involved with the wrong crowd once get caught up in a lifestyle riddled with poor choices. Without knowing the extent of your charges, it’s difficult for me to provide you with a definite answer, tailored to your specific case. I would recommend you contact Pardons Canada at 416-929-6011 or visit www.pardons.orgfor more information. There is also a walk-in centre that you could also visit at 45 St. Clair Ave. W., Suite 901. No appointment is necessary. Good luck. I don’t know you, but I’m definitely proud of you!

Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.

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  • When leaving a professional phone message, make sure it is clear and concise. The shorter and more action-oriented your message is, the quicker you’ll receive a response. Include your name, phone number and e-mail address at the beginning and then again at the end of your message. This saves the receiver from having to review messages two or more times to collect your information.

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