Handling CV Problem Areas

Advice on how to handle problem areas on your CV: gaps, firings, criminal record, etc.

Handling CV Problem Areas

If you're like most people, your job history won't be picture perfect, and you'll need to know how to handle that on your CV. The last thing you want to do is lie about any gaps or firings, because the truth has a habit of coming out eventually.

If you have major gaps between jobs (say, more than a year), be prepared to explain why. Were you pursuing higher education? Taking courses? Caring for children or parents? If you did odd jobs during that time, and you bring that up, be prepared to give them a list of those jobs. You want to show your potential employer that you are dependable, so it's best to explain the gaps in employment as situations that have been settled, and will most likely not occur again.

If you were fired from a Job

If you were fired from a job, it's best not to volunteer that information. If you are faced with the direct question, then it's time to fess up to it. But being fired need not reflect poorly on you! If your company was downsizing, just mention that fact (no bitterness though!). If you were fired because of inter-personal conflict, poor performance, or insubordination, etc, it's best to avoid details. Be candid, and brief, but keep it positive as well. Don't badmouth anyone! Be sure they know that you learned from the experience and are a better employee because of it. You may want to anticipate questions about your firing and prepare in advance what you might say. If you are caught off guard, your body language may signal discomfort with the subject. You want to come across as mature and confident!

Disclosing a Criminal Record

If you happen to have a criminal record, it's your prerogative whether or not to disclose this on your CV. Some companies do not require that a criminal record be clearly mentioned, while others do (and in that case, you will have to mention it). As a general rule, it's best to be up-front about such things (as they will probably come to light later, anyway). Normally, having a criminal history is only an issue if it's perceived as a danger to the job you're applying for. Again, when discussing this topic with your potential employer, be sure to emphasize what you've learned and how you've changed. Most people are willing to give young people a second chance to start their lives, if they demonstrate maturity and a willingness to learn.

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