Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Traumas are what you make them

Q. I need help to try and get back into the work force. After a traumatic experience I was wrongfully terminated from my job a year ago. After making an internal complaint to my boss about sexual harassment by a co-worker, my workplace became hostile and unbearable. I had to keep away from that co-worker and I felt discriminated against! My boss told me take some time off. Soon after I did that I received a termination letter by mail. After a year of physical and emotional distress, I am ready to be strong and stand tall again. My fear is that I will be asked, "Why did you leave your last employer?" I do not know how to respond. If I say the reason, no one will want to hire me for fear I'll report someone else for harassment. I know the prospective employer will contact my last boss and learn the truth. Please help me.

Ans. This situation should not traumatize you. You don't know potential employers will contact your past employer, and you definitely do not know what the former employer will relate. New laws often prohibit employers from giving any information beyond the dates of your employment. You probably WILL be asked why you left your last employment. Answer truthfully that you decided to seek another job because of a personality conflict. There is no reason to be concerned about saying that.


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