July 21, 2015

It is what it is. You can’t make reality go way but you can take steps to do positive impression management and counter-balance the negatives. Here’s How.

Remember you are a salesman selling a product. The product is you with full disclosure. No matter what baggage you carry, the one thing that will always get you disqualified is dishonesty. Do not listen to resume writers, lawyers and probation officers who encourage you not to include a materially important matter.

For the application:

Treat the application exactly as if it were your first assignment on the job. Fill out all the fields clearly and in reasonable detail. Do some basic research on the position in which you are applying for and and highlight the “benefits” of hiring you based on your differentiating attributes. When the application asks the reason for leaving prior employment, tell the real story and any mitigating factors. If you were at fault, admit it and state what you learned.

Take the time to create a package to go with the application. This should include a cover letter, resume, and a set of references that can talk firsthand about you in a work environment. Remember, the purpose of the application is to screen for an interview. Make this step easier for the recruiter.

For the Interview:

Control what you can. While you cannot go back and change a negative past employment history or criminal record, you can make good choices that will help you manage a positive impression.

  • Dress and act appropriately. Look sharp and be polite to everyone you encounter. When you walk into that office for your interview, you must be ready to sell yourself to them first. You would be surprised how many people are arrogant to a clerk and then try to show a totally different demeanor with the interviewer. In our offices, sometimes the person in the reception area is actually the owner. How you present yourself tells a lot about how you respect the people evaluating you.
  • Be on time.This tells a lot about respect and dependability. If you were let go for dependability issues, it will be in your best interest to get to the interview on time and be prepared for the questions you will be asked.
  • Have a copy of your resume and references available. It is always a good idea to have a package including a cover letter, hard copy of your resume and references available. Your resume is going to list all of your skills that make you a good addition to the prospective employer. Select sound, professional references of people who can speak to your talents. As a professional courtesy, always contact your references prior to giving their contact information to the interviewer.

Some Final Thoughts…

As for the negatives in your history, honesty and full disclosure is the only policy. Ban the box only delays the inevitable. You still must be prepared to explain the situation and sell your benefits. Remember, you are both the salesperson and the product.

Bad References? If you suspect bad references. Again, be proactive. Provide your own set of references to counter any negative references. Think about it in advance. Address any potential issues when a termination or quitting without notice comes up. For example: “Mr. Jones was my former supervisor, but we didn’t share the same perspective on some key issues. I’d recommend that you also speak with Ms. Smith, to give you a more balanced assessment of my contribution to that company. Here is a copy of her reference letter for your files.”

Felony Conviction? It is critical to show that you have learned something important and positive from the experience. Additionally, be prepared to explain why your conviction does not indicate an inability to perform the position’s job duties. Remember you have paid the price for your mistake and unless a conviction is related to your performance, it cannot be used as a reason for not selecting you.

Poor Performance Termination? Don’t hide it when asked. The last thing you want when they perform a reference check is to find out that you stretched the truth. Dishonesty is one of the top mistakes for deselecting candidates after an interview. Be honest about what happened and share what you learned from the experience.

Poor Relationships With Past Co-Workers? If you had arguments or bad relationships with fellow employees, customers or your employer, explain the situation and what steps you took to ensure that it will not happen again. Again, stress what you learned. Have a package of references letters from others stating how well you work with people.

Sometimes the hardest job is actually getting the job. When it comes to overcoming your employment history or record, you must learn how to confront it directly and honesty with employers. The pay-off is that when you are hired with full disclosure, there will be a greater chance for the “right fit”.

Blog Categories