“Walk me through your resume.”
It’s the standard question that hiring managers kick things off with as their eyes dance over the bolded words on your resume. In the back of your mind as you start giving a boilerplate answer, you know it’s only a matter of seconds until they zero in on what you deem as glaring red flags standing out to them.
Gaps in employment history. Short job stints. Not getting into leadership positions. It can feel like hiring managers are already reading between the lines and noticing these variables.
Not everyone’s CV is one shining success after another. It goes back to the old adage, “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It’s time to be comfortable with the uncomfortable parts in your employment history.
Come to Grips with the Uneasy Parts
When it seems that the spotlight is on you and you’re asked a pointed question about your employment history, you may be trying to dance around it. Hiring managers aren’t dumb, and they can see right through any sidestepping. Which is why it’s so important to come to grips with your work experience to be able to tell it confidently.
If your career path has been playing a bit of ping pong, rather than building a tale on why it hasn’t worked out—discuss the valuable experience you have learned from your journey to date. That’s what hiring managers want to hear. It might not have been the highlight of your career, but what kind of insight did you take from it? If there are gaps in your employment history, show how you used the time constructively. Did you join associations within your field or did you volunteer to enhance your craft?
Take Command of Your Resume
“Selling your experience is a vital skill, whether you're on a job interview or wooing clients for your solo business.” – Fast Company
Your narrative is your story to own—and you need to be able to tell it confidently. If you were dismissed from a job, frame it as a learning experience. Leverage the positive aspects of it and how you bounced back. If an illness kept you away from work for some time, prospective employers might have a tendency to be wary because in their mind it might mean that you aren’t back to 100%. Keep it succinct as possible, but there’s no need to apologize or fudge the truth with something you’ve battled. The bottom line is that it’s time to come to grips with your career path to date. It might not be where you thought it would have led you early on, but you can’t always be looking back, because you aren’t heading in that direction anymore.
Accepting your story conveys confidence—and confidence is a major career-asset.