Tag Archives: layoff

Recovering the Fumble

Does your resume contain a speed bump or two? Have you made moves you now regret? Feeling tempted to omit or spin the move(s) to take the heat off? If the answer is “yes,” you’re not alone. I see plenty of resumes from professionals who have done all the right things most of the time but who, for any number of reasons, have fumbled the professional ball along the way and can’t quite figure out how to recover.  It’s tough out there and companies still able to hire are looking very closely at the details of a person’s professional choices. How you present your choices on paper and in an interview will make all the difference in landing your next job.

Include, Don’t Omit

Nothing says “you can’t trust me” like omitting important gaps in your employment history. For senior professionals, there are no excuses for failing to include a description of how you’ve spent your working life over the course of a career.  If you made a fortune on your options (the lucky few) and decided to take some well deserved time traveling the world, say so. If you lost your job due to layoffs or termination (the unlucky many) and had a tough time finding the next job, you’ll still need to explain how the time was spent between gigs. Maybe you’ve taken some time off to do a little soul searching. That’s fine, but be sure to include an explanation of that time off on your resume. Then, prepare to answer questions about those choices.

Spell It Out: Honestly

Don’t embellish, candy-coat or omit the unsavory details of your work history. Be honest about the moves you’ve made and articulate the rationale for each move. If you’ve been fired from a job, you don’t need to put that critical detail in your resume, but when you’re asked why you left, be honest. Tell the interviewer or screener that the employment relationship soured and that you were let go. No need for excuses or stories. Everyone assumes there’s a story and you’re probably not the most objective person to tell it. So , instead of the spin, tell the interviewer what you’ve learned from the experience and how that lesson has led to improvements in your professional life. Be positive. If you come right to the point and you’re sincere, the interviewer will be ready to move on to the next question and the squirming can end for both of you.

Be Prepared

You know what your resume says. So, before you send it off to a prospective employer, think about how you’ll discuss the details. You can imagine, based on a job description, what an employer is looking for. Prepare to answer questions that are specific to the job, highlighting the matches between the company’s needs and your experience. This advice seems so obvious, but I’m often surprised by how poorly people prepare for interviews. If you walk into an interview with a plan to simply sell your expertise, you’re going to miss the point of the meeting. Maybe you’re an expert deal closer, but if the person you’re meeting is looking for X and X doesn’t have anything to do with closing deals, you’ve wasted everyone’s time by not being prepared to talk about X.

Smile

I’ve sat across from far too many sour faces in interviews and I don’t like it. My clients like it even less. I understand the temptation to brood. Times are tough and plenty of folks out there find themselves in unfamiliar territory. But honestly, if you aren’t prepared to walk into an interview with your head held up and a smile on your face, cancel the interview. People want to hire people who make them comfortable. They want to hire winners and they’re looking for signals that you see yourself as a winner, no matter the circumstances that brought you to the interview. Sad, grumpy, aloof candidates rarely make it through the hiring process. Why should they? Confident, friendly candidates set themselves apart. And hey, you’re going to feel better about the interview too, regardless of the outcome.

Few people have perfect records. Most of us have stumbled at some point in our careers. Owning up to those stumbles often says more about our judgment than the mistakes we’ve made. It sets us apart from those who hide behind excuses and prepares us to move forward, confident in the lessons we’ve learned. When you find yourself in the market for a new job, be honest about where you’ve been and be prepared to move on with your dignity in tact and a smile on your face.

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Oh, the news …

That sinking, dizzy spiraling sensation is real. News of the continuing economic slide, crashing equities markets, mass layoffs, accelerating foreclosures and the greed and political paralysis ever present in the background have left you with a pit in your gut. Today, we’re reminded that our natural world is oblivious to our man-made messes as we labor to restore power to a million people in ice covered north eastern states and await the inevitable eruption of a massive volcano in Alaska. Uncertainty, confusion, fear … it’s enough to drive you mad.

It must be that on some primal level we feed on the dramatics of tumult. What other reason could there be for the mass consumption of terrible news and dire predictions of future disaster? Sure, there’s a bit of spoon-feeding going on here, but can we honestly say we don’t crave what we’re being fed? People all around me are animated by the latest whammy and none of us seem able to resist the temptation to armchair quarterback in the hallways or on the train. As the dental hygienist scraped away at my teeth the other day, I could overhear another patient railing against the embarrassingly large bonuses paid out by a certain Wall Street icon while accepting welfare from the public. He had a right to be confused and angry. But the banter coming from the other room wasn’t completely bereft of play. He was really getting into it and I wanted to smile (and would have had those fingers and sharp picks not been working away in my mouth).

Folks, it’s time to step away from your information sources, close your eyes and take deep, diaphragm-expanding breaths. OK, now stretch. Now, go splash some water on your face and wake up. Ask yourselves: how much of what I’m worried about can I control? Once you’ve honestly answered that question (I suspect your answer will be something like “none of it”), ask yourself what you need to do right now to move forward without the distractions of the moment. What follows is my short list:

1.      Focus on the business I have, not the business I don’t.

2.      Listen to my body and feed and exercise it as I know I should.

3.      Spend time with the people who bring out the best in me and avoid those who perpetuate the gloom.

4.      Catch up on all the things I always say I’d do if I had the time – we all have the time.

No matter what happens today, tomorrow or in a year from now, we can be sure of one thing: this will all pass. So cheer up, keep breathing and focus on what you can control. You’ll be in a better position to join in the fun when this storm passes.

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