5 Tips to Manage Red Flags In Your Career History

Red flags on the Tiananmen Square -- is a large city square in the center of Beijing, China

Even executives are not above a few glitches in their career. These five things are challenges you may have encountered during your career. Recruiters can sometimes form biased opinions based on these issues. Here are some helpful tips to overcome the recruiter seeing “red flags.”

Short-term jobs. Employers question executives who move around a little too often. Their concerns are whether you don’t know how to identify the right fit for yourself, get bored easily in a job, didn’t meet company expectations, aren’t accepted by peers and staff, or any number of things. To dissuade negative opinions about short-term jobs in an interview, be prepared with valid reasons for the job changes and quickly point out positive outcomes from those moves.

Quit your job. If you left a job without having another lined up, this could raise a potential employer’s curiosity and concern. They may think you just got fed up and left (which many would like to do, but don’t), or that you may have been fired but are trying to cover up by saying you made the decision to voluntarily leave. Be sure to have a solid, honest, and believable response to questions and concerns about quitting your job, otherwise you may lose the respect of the recruiter/employer.

Laid off. In the world of work today, layoffs are common due to cutbacks and restructuring. However, layoffs are also a way to thin out the low or nonperformers. Mention your circumstances as soon as the issue comes up. Being part of a team or division that was downsized is more acceptable than you alone being asked to leave, which raises more concerns.

Unemployed. Being unemployed, even in this economy, still raises the question of why an executive has not been hired by another employer. On the other hand, many companies do understand that many executives are vying for a few top positions and even excellent qualifications don’t always get you the job. What’s important to point out is how you are using your time while unemployed. Are you volunteering, continuing your professional development, education, helping others, etc.?

No bosses on your reference list. Ding, ding, ding! What is this telling a potential employer? When creating a reference list keep in mind a company will want to talk to former bosses, your peers, and employees you supervised to get the best well-rounded picture of who you are in a corporate setting and how well you work with others. Even if you don’t have a former boss on your reference list, they may call them anyway, so it’s better to provide a name or two to try to control who is saying what about your strengths and weaknesses.

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