Even the most perfect job candidates are challenged when it comes to finding a job. What happens when you have a less than perfect work record? Should you try to camouflage the fact that you have a spotty work history? If you’re thinking you can trick employers into not seeing the gaps, think again. The best way to address a spotty work record is to address it then work diligently to fix it going forward.
Unemployed for long periods of time? Some professional resume writers may tell you to hide the gaps by not listing specific dates on your application. They suggest by simply listing the year, unemployment lapses may go undetected. Unfortunately, this is a trick that most seasoned hiring managers are fully aware of. Keep in mind that the unemployment rate has been so high for many years, it is not uncommon for job seekers to have gaps in their employment. If your resume shows large gaps between jobs over five years back, however, it’s harder to explain that job hopping is not your normal pattern. If you were engaged in other activities such as volunteering or going to school, make sure you list the activities on your resume. Employers are less likely to find fault if you have been busy while unemployed and not merely sitting in front of the television on a computer “looking for jobs”.
What about job hopping? If the circumstances are beyond your control, you may be safe. Company layoffs, downsizing and cut backs are acceptable reasons for frequently moving from job to job. Multiple separations due to downsizing may indicate that you are the employee that employers feel eager to let go first. Explaining job hopping can be kind of difficult if the reason is due to boredom or frequent terminations. During the interview, offer you were searching for a career that fit your skills and talents. How do you convince them that it will not happen again? First begin by complimenting the organization. Share that you have done extensive research on the company and position – both are exactly what you have been searching for. Point out the similarities between your skills and what the company is looking for. If you don’t think you can pull that off with sincerity, don’t try. Sometimes you just need to use the truth. Let them know you are now looking at a career instead of the “jobs” offered by the other companies.
Make no mistake, a spotty work record is difficult to explain and hard to hide from experienced recruiters. It is not, however, as impossible as it appears.