Applying for a new job or being called to an interview can seem daunting, especially if there are tricky areas in your career history that you think will make a potential employer cast you to the ‘not interested’ heap before they’ve finished reading your CV.
Not everyone has a perfect bill of health when it comes to previous careers; some people have larger gaps between jobs, some change jobs more than others and some can just make bad career choices. Here we offer advice on how to turn a job problem into a positive and impress your interviewer.
I (don’t) love the way you lie
This should seem like obvious advice and we’ve talked about this before in our article on The Five Worst CV Mistakes You Can Make, but a surprising amount of people still think they can pull the wool over a potential employers or interviewers eyes. Little white lies can become big lies before you know it, and you will end up falling down the rabbit hole of dishonesty trying to maintain one lie by telling twenty.
Never lie about employment dates, titles or job responsibilities. This will make you seem like a dishonest and untrustworthy person and the rest of your CV may be questioned as well. Why should an employer believe you about the rest when you’ve already lied?
Be truthful about any gaps between employment, short job spans or even if you’ve have been charged with an offence. This shows your good character and makes them more likely to see you in a better light.
Lady in Red (flags)
If you have any weak areas that an employer may view as a red flag, don’t pretend they never happened. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes and you may have thought that starting the handbags-made-from-food company was a great idea before it all went pear-shaped, but don’t try to fool your interviewer or the person reading your CV into thinking otherwise.
Likewise if you’ve switched between smaller and senior roles and worry about seeming inconsistent don’t remove these from your CV. Doing so can leave big gaps in your employment or just leave you very little left to work with. A great way of how to turn a job problem into a positive here is to be prepared instead.
Points like these may be raised in an interview and this is a golden opportunity to impress the interviewer. You can demonstrate what you learned from these mishaps and if you’ve gained any new skills as a result.
Odd one out
When you present your employment history to a company, make sure everything you’ve given them is consistent across all channels. Like the point about lying, don’t say you work at NASA when your LinkedIn says you work in a NISA. Likewise don’t say you’re a quiet introvert when your Facebook shows you wearing a traffic cone as a hat in a nightclub at 3am on a workday.
Make sure everything an employer might see like your social profiles show the same accurate details about your job history. Any ‘improvements on the truth’ will come out either when you are questioned or through references and background checks.
It is more common now for people to have a variety of jobs throughout their lifetime and change more frequently compared to fifty years ago when you picked a job and stayed in it your whole life. Switching jobs and having a number of different previous positions isn’t anything to be ashamed of. While it does look good for employers to see a sense of consistency, dedication or longevity to convince them that you won’t just leave your next job after six months and leave them feeling like a summer fling, it can be handled in a positive way.
Be honest about why these changes happened and at the rate in which they happened. For example, if you were trying to find the right career path or if you weren’t being fully utilised previously. and make sure to emphasise the positives that learning from these past choices can have on your future career.
You could show the interviewer that you welcome new opportunities to create or enhance skills and as a result have now found a perfect career choice where you can excel, or that your cause for leaving another job shows your drive to work hard and benefit the company as much as possible by using your full capabilities.
If you think you’ve mastered the art of finding positives in negatives and want to impress an interviewer check out all of the jobs that we have to offer!