When employers screen job applicants, they might spend as little as a few seconds on your résumé. If they see ‘red flags’ during the initial look, they’re likely to push your application to the side and move on.
What are these red flags and how do you deal with them?
Here are five of the most common job history red flags and how to combat them.
1. Unexplained gaps in between jobs.
Why it’s a problem: What was happening during that time? Employers are always interested in what your trajectory is. Are you heading in a direction that suits their fitness business. Unexplained gaps might see an imagination go wild; Were you working somewhere that you’ve deliberately left off your résumé? Were you fired? Was it jail time? Was it travel? Gaps in your job history raise questions that can be avoided.
How to combat it: Put simply, be prepared to explain what caused the gap and what you did with the time.
2. You look like a job-hopper.
Why it’s a problem: Employers assume you won’t stay long with them either, and they’ll wonder why you’re unable or unwilling to stay in one place for a more typical amount of time.
How to combat it: First, if any of your short stays were always going to be short, like work experience, a temp job or contract work, make sure that your résumé indicates that. But if you’re a true job hopper and those jobs that you left early were intended to be longer term, you might need to rely on convincing hiring managers that (a) you’re ready for stability and looking for the right fit, and (b) you’re so great at what you do that you’ll be worth investing in.
3. You were fired from a job.
Why it’s a problem: Employers will want reassurance that whatever caused you to be fired won’t be an issue if you work for them.
How to combat it: Practice an answer that briefly explains what you learned from the situation and what you do differently now as a result. Practice saying it out loud until you eliminate all traces of defensiveness or bitterness; employers are going to pay attention to how comfortable you are with your answer and whether it sounds like you’ve moved forward.
4. You don’t have much experience.
Why it’s a problem: While you might be able to do the job if given a chance, the reality is that employers have plenty of experienced candidates who have already worked in their field. As a result, they need an incentive to take a chance on someone that is unproven.
How to combat it: This is where a fantastic cover letter can really help you. One that really speaks to why you want this particular job and how your previous experience has preparred you for the job at hand.
By taking the right action, not only will employers be put at ease, you’ll also feel a lot more confident and, as a result, present a better application.
TIP (for those who read this far): Studies show that, for the best results in an interview, address these red flag items up front and save any gold you have, like awards, etc. for the end of the interview. That way you’re able to smooth over the bad news and leave on a high note.
I wish you every success with your fitness career.