11 May Make you employment record work for you
CHICAGO – Job seekers often feel sensitive about their employment records for various reasons. There can be an attitude that the work background is inadequate or inferior. It could feel like a barrier to getting the kind of job the individual wants.
When you feel your employment record is an indictment, you can become overly conscious of a fault that is presumed. 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 and self-assured image, you are sending a message to employers that you are tentative, insecure and uncertain about yourself and your abilities. Worse yet, you may give the impression that you really don’t 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 that job. None of that gets through, though, when you look at your own background from a negative standpoint. The employer reacts on the basis of what he or she sees and hears.
If the individual isn’t getting a positive message from you, there is no way you will win that job. One area of sensitivity for many people is having been discharged from a previous job. When they interview for the next job, they often feel 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 of the state of the economy and business conditions in general. It rarely has anything to do with job competence.
The mere fact of being discharged no longer carries the negative connotation among employers as it formerly did. However, you will be asked why you left your last employer. You should formulate an answer that’s brief and doesn’t reflect upon you adversely.
There are two types of job seekers 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 from 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 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’s likely you have had a variety of responsibilities with different departments of the company.
Especially if you worked for a large, multi-national corporation, the range and depth of your experience with that one firm may rival the experience of other job seekers who have a background of several jobs.
By pointing out the different jobs and responsibilities within the company 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 way as a progression that shows continuity and growth. At the same time, you can emphasize your experience and the skills you have accumulated through your varied job background.
Whether you have worked for one or more companies, you may be sensitive about your employment record if you have occupied just one type of job responsibility for many years. You may feel this shows that you weren’t promotable or lacked the initiative to get out and try for something better.
As a consequence, you may feel that your career was at a dead end because you didn’t have the ability 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 for the same job, it’s 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 work for you rather than against you.
Recent columns by James Challenger
- James Challenger: How to handle the salary issue
- James Challenger: How to spot employer credibility trouble
- James Challenger: Slow hiring of college graduates: non-profits to benefit
- James Challenger: Transferring skills the key to new work in today’s economy
- James Challenger: Expanding job market predicted to shatter glass ceiling
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.