Jobseekers often feel sensitive about their employment records for various reasons. There can be an attitude that the work background is inadequate or inferior and a barrier to getting the kind of job the individual wants.
When you feel that your employment record is an indictment, you can become overly conscious of a fault that is presumed. As a result, if you view your background as a problem, the job market may be alerted and disconcerted by your concern – it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Employers are looking for positive people to fill jobs. When you approach your job search with built-in negative attitudes, you are only creating obstacles for yourself. Employers will perceive that you regard yourself as being inadequate and will react accordingly.
Rather than projecting a strong, self-assured image, you are sending a message to employers that you are tentative, insecure, uncertain about yourself and your abilities. Worse yet, you may give the impression that you do not think you can handle the job for which you are interviewing.
You may have outstanding abilities and a record of accomplishment that strongly qualify you for the job. But none of that gets through when you look at your own background from a negative perspective. The employer reacts on the basis of what he or she sees and hears. If the interviewer is not getting a positive message from you, there is no way you will be offered that job.
From Fired to Hired
One area of sensitivity for many people is having been discharged from a previous job. They often fear that when they interview for the next job, the prospective employer will think they were incompetent because of the discharge.
In our experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Most employers today recognize that the main reason people are discharged is because someone in authority no longer likes them. It rarely has anything to do with job competence.
The mere fact of being discharged no longer carries the negative connotation among employers that it formerly did. However, you will be asked why you left your last employer, and you should formulate an answer that is brief and does not reflect upon you adversely.
There are two types of jobseekers in particular who may be regarded by some employers as having problem backgrounds: “one-company” people and “job hoppers.”
The one-company person may be seen as having too narrow or limited experience, having spent his or her entire business career with a single firm. Most employers are seeking people who know more than one way to do the job and can make immediate contributions to the bottom line through the experience gained on several jobs.
If you are a one-company person, though, there is an opportunity to turn this to your advantage. During a career with one firm, it is likely that you had a variety of responsibilities with different departments of the company. Especially if you worked for a large, multinational corporation, the range and depth of your experience with that one firm may rival the experience of other candidates who have a background of several jobs. By pointing out the different jobs and responsibilities within a company that you held and the increasing levels of responsibility, you can turn what on the surface may seem like a negative attribute into a positive one.
If you have served with a number of employers, you can eliminate the negative aspects of frequent job changes by presenting your background in a unified framework as a progression that shows continuity and growth.
At the same time, you can emphasize your experience and the knowhow you have accumulated through your varied job background.
Stuck in a Rut
Whether you have worked for one or more companies, you may be sensitive about your employment record if you have had just one type of job responsibility for many years. You may feel this shows that you were not promotable, or lacked the initiative to get out and try for something better. As a consequence, you may feel that your career was dead-ended because you lacked the initiative to advance. If you approach the job market with that sort of an attitude, you are beaten before you start.
If you had the same job responsibility for many years, look at it from a positive standpoint. You were obviously good at what you did or you would have been replaced a long time ago. If you went to another company or companies for the same job, it is evidence that someone else found you good enough to hire. You were recognized for being better at what you did than your competitors for the same position. In addition, you have accumulated in-depth experience at that position. It can be a valuable selling point to an employer looking for a specialist, or for someone who can fulfill a training role in instructing others in the same type of work.
These are just a few examples of how you can make the most of your employment record. When you take a positive approach you are making that record an asset rather than a liability.