Be honest when asked about negative work history

Saturday , June 16, 2012 - 11:31 AM

Ron Campbell

Dealing with a negative work history can present problems any time, but especially so in today’s slowly improving but still challenging economy.

In 2000, there were about 1.1 unemployed workers for every job opening. Today there are about 3.4 for every opening. In 2009, the number was as high as 7.8 unemployed workers for every job opening. That’s a lot of competition.

While the odds remain stacked against job seekers, you will have a great advantage if you know how to effectively go about your job search, even if you have a negative work history.

When it comes to selecting new employees, employers are looking for someone they believe can do the job and someone they like, meaning a team player and an individual who will fit in.

If you have a negative work history, what employers are looking for remains the same, but they also need to know that the negative work history will not impact your ability to do the job and will not impact how well you will fit in as a new employee.

It is up to you to ensure a potential employer believes your negative work history will not impact your ability to do the job and to fit in on that job. More so than ever before, getting along with others is critically important as employers increasingly rely on teamwork to get the work done.

You may try to hide your negative work history and you have no obligation to offer information as long as you can always be honest, but many times it is impossible to ignore. For example, long gaps in employment will likely eventually come out in an interview no matter how you handle it on your résumé. You have to be prepared to address any concerns the potential employer may have about your negative work history.

The same rules apply to all job seekers, no matter their work background:



• Rule 1: Always be honest

• Rule 2: Always be positive

• And Rule 2 is never more important than Rule 1.

Understanding the importance of networking will significantly improve your odds. About 65 percent of jobs are found through networking, 15 percent through the Internet, 8 percent through recruiters and 12 percent through employment agencies.

A key to finding a job is to ensure you spend about the same percentage of time in each approach as that approach has of being successful. That is, since networking has about a 65 percent chance of success, you should be spending about 65 percent of your time networking.

Another key is to apply multiple approaches to any job opening you may find. For example, if you find an opening on the Internet or through a recruiter or an employment agency, start networking to find people who may work there.

Remember, if you know how to effectively go about your job search, you will have a great advantage, even if you have a negative work history.

Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or campbellrv@gmail.com.

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