Should You Hide a Termination? What Do You Think?

Hide A Termination?

Terminations – No one wants to think about it, yet it happens.  It does not end your quest to support your family and to move forward so think about it as what it is… a part of life.  How you handle it will be the key to what happens in your next position.


Terminations happen in all occupations.  Most of what is said here in this journal applies to more than the sales profession, but the situation of a job not working out transcends sales as an occupation.

Once a termination does happen, your future is not terminated, just the relationship with that employer.  You will be seeking gainful employment in a sales position again, and your level of comfort dealing with the termination of employment from your last employer will certainly be tested, and sometimes spotlighted.

The question is simple:  Should you hide a termination from a prospective Employer?  The Answer is simple: No! Especially if you are a sales professional!

The Truth Will Set You Free

If you have read Black Sales Journal, you will remember one of my favorite suggestions:“Always tell the truth!” The key in this situation is not to focus on it.

Terminations happen and there is nothing pleasing about them.  What you don’t want to do is to relive bitterness and the trauma of a termination while you are in an interview looking for a fresh start.  One simple reason to tell the truth is that it is easier to remember.  The other is that you need to start this new relationship off on the firm footing of the truth.  In the world of sales professionals, many have had terminations for legitimate reasons, even though they endeavored to make it work.  Terminations do happen.

This is the information age and that gives prospective employers an ability to “uncover” you previous work history cheaply and fairly easy.  Note, that finding your history does not mean that a prospective employer would be uncovering the facts and details of what happened such as what your reasons for leaving.  Any hiring manager knows that a sales job followed by a prolonged absence of several months may well denote that a job action took place.

If you have been let go from your previous job because of performance issues, you need to be prepared to discuss reasonable reasons why you parted company.

Your resume needs to match up with any job history investigation that an employer can conduct.  The prospective employer checks this information through a service, such as Equifax,  or other services, and certainly with any on-line information that you might post such as LinkedIn.

Consistency eliminates questions and doubts.

What Should You Say?

There are sales jobs (and any other jobs) that just do not work out.  Your objective is to be able to tell the story in a cogent fashion.  There should be no accusations or disparaging remarks, but a clear story of why selling widgets for ABC Company in Columbus, Ohio did not work and resulted in you leaving after fifteen months.

Cover the issue of what the problem was.  Whether that was pricing, marketing support, sales support, a problematic territory, or a product that was inferior.  Do it in a professional manner, and always cite what actions you took to improve your fate.  If you do not have a solid and believable story, it may appear that you just cannot sell.

If you are a sales professional selling widgets and in your last job you were terminated because you did not meet your quota/goals, you need to own up to the fact that you were terminated.  I give below an example:

“I was let go because of not meeting the quarterly sales targets in two consecutive quarter.”  You can then give clarification of the most important issues (an example)… “I had difficulty meeting the goals as we promised delivery dates that were 4 weeks to a month longer than our other competitors.”

Places You Should Never Go!

You never want to go into an interview saying that your previous employer (or any employer you have had) is prejudice or discriminatory, even if you believe it to be true.   This is a sure way not to get a second interview and a possible hire.

The “well” will be poisoned if you make statements that allude to disparate treatment, as a prospective employer will immediately put themselves in the position of the previous employers.  Remember, they do not know you!

Instead, compliment the best aspects of the previous employer as difficult as it may seem.  If it is true a compliment such as: “There is no organization that does training like ABC Corporation”, shows your respect for the company.

Additionally, there should be no disparaging comments about your previous manager.  You are on fair ground if you cite the fact that you did not have much support, but disparaging comments are out of bounds.

Compensate For the Weak Areas

If you have been terminated for not reaching goals, you will do well to have some support from your former employers, co-workers, and clients.  You should get letters of recommendation citing your accomplishments.

We have covered before in Black Sales Journal, that you need to fully be prepared when you go to the interview including customer testimonials and all of your sales numbers.  Don’t share proprietary information which would jeopardize your past employer’s customers or information, but do be prepared to support your effort and accomplishments.  A customer testimonial helps to illustrate your affinity for customers and the sales process but you still may have some work to do to show that you effectively prospect.  Cover all of the bases and give yourself a chance to win.

You should provide good focus on your strong points and accomplishments as well as tout your specialties.  You need to be prepared to talk about your weak points that caused you the termination.  They may not apply to the new job, and thus lose relevance, but something like door-to-door prospecting might still be a part of the job, and you need to be prepared to show how you are going to change things.

Above all, you need to walk or run the road to continuous improvement, and be prepared to enunciate this also.  Your ability to tune-up your sales career (Black Sales Journal 8/15/2011 – Tuning Up Your Sales Career) may have some relevance to a prospective employer, but it is for you.

Thanks for reading, and your comments are always welcome. You can reach me at

Is it Time to Move On?

Depressed Sales Professional

There is a point in the career progression of many sales professionals when they come to a decision point on whether to stay or leave their current position.  This situation gives reasons to ponder some of your alliances and loyalties.  If you are wise your first loyalty is to yourself and your family, and that makes it even more important to make the right choices.


There are a few questions that you should ask yourself:

  • Do I believe in the Company and the management?
  • Do I believe in the products I am selling?
  • Am I tired of the politics in the organization?
  • Do I need more money and a better compensation system?

The above questions offer some food for thought. Here are some responses that will give pause.

I don’t believe in the Company and the Management!

This one is as strong as it gets.  If you don’t believe in the organization and have no confidence in the management, it is probably time to leave.  Alignment between management, the organization, and those who sell its products is a wonderful thing when you can have it in total.  Alignment often is slow to take root when there is new management, yet can be powerful once it happens.  Alignment can even work when it is partial.

If you are selling a product for an organization that you do not believe in, it is the start of trouble.  If you are selling for an organization that you do not believe in, and also selling a product that you don’t believe in, I suggest you find the door.

If you can fake passion for your organization and your product for a long period of time, you might feign effectiveness, but you are still a candidate for a job change.

I don’t believe in the Product!

This one can be vexing, as products and services are changed and upgraded constantly.  Be careful in considering changing jobs for this reason, but if you do not believe in the product, it will show.  Defending and promoting a product that is, in your mind, so flawed or ill-priced that you don’t feel that you can properly promote it is a tough situation.

Is your company out of step?   Is your company poor at R&D?  The good part is that usually you have a suite of products, and some are more solid than others.

Do a good evaluation on this issue.  Remember products change, and improvements happen.  Do not use it as an excuse if it is just a reason for concern.  Keep in mind that things are seldom clear-cut as they appear.  For instance, the products that are priced the most attractive and competitively often have lower commission rates.  You then have a more attractive product price, but get paid less.  This is a game of give and take.

No matter what, if the product is lacking, and no one in sales or in marketing cares, then it might be time to leave.

I am sick of the Politics and the Process in My Organization!

There are politics in any organizations as a whole, and there is definitely a home for politics in an organization’s sales department or function.  There is no science in the distribution of prospects, territories, or many of the other spoils of sales.  Much happens that could be considered unfair, depending on your point of view. We face the fact that in the sales function, concerns for one’s own well being makes many things appear unfair.

These inequities should be addressed, if they are real.  I cite some ways to deal with this in Black Sales Journal 3/3 – Do You Feel “Screwed”?.  You should professionally state your concerns and give some opportunity for things to change.

Remember, this is most often less than systemic; it is usually an individual manager’s actions in most cases. When it is systemic, it is hard to prove, yet no less worthy of being spotlighted.  Be prudent, and never petty, as it will diminish your point.  Keep in mind that pushing for transparency in the sales function is probably a battle that will not be totally successful.

I Need More Money!

Perhaps you do, but be honest with yourself about whether that is true, and why you are not making it at your current employer.  Brutal honesty is necessary to keep from “kicking the can down the road”, meaning moving from one sales job to another without changing any particular part of yourself or finding the type of job that fits you could make the next job more ‘permanent’.

The average sales volumes, average commissions, average bonus, and average income for your position, would make for questions that you might want to investigate.  There is one more question that tells a story.  What is the average tenure or longevity of a sales professional in your organization?

So the question is “how long do sales professionals stay, and how much do they make!!!”  Is the problem something structural like the remuneration system?

This one is important as it can be rather revealing for you.  If others are making more because they are selling more than you, then there may be some self-indictment.

Be Brutally Honest with Yourself!

Do a good evaluation of the questions above.  Know how these questions and subsequent answers relate to you.  You cannot be successful in the long haul without making adjustment after adjustment.

If you don’t like prospecting, work to solve your problems.  If you are not organized, get there by coursework and attention to the problem.  Work on your sales skills and your regimen and always seek to improve yourself.

Don’t “kick the can down the road” by changing employers frequently for all of the wrong reasons, engage in constant improvement and adjust and adapt as is necessary.

If the time comes that you must leave for any of the reasons cited above, you should professionally consider moving on.  Always be the professional.

We are anxious to hear your comments. You can reach me at