5 Ways to Overcome the Less-than-Perfect Aspects of Your Background

5 Ways to Overcome the Less-than-Perfect Aspects of Your Background

Why aren’t you getting hired when you’re a great candidate for the roles you’re pursuing? It may be because you possess one or more career liabilities – weaknesses in your work history, pedigree, skill sets, or credentials that employers can’t get past. We all possess such liabilities. The trick is to face them, write your resume and LinkedIn profile in ways that minimize them, and then devise job search and self-marketing strategies that help you to overcome them.

Career liabilities are the ways in which your candidacy falls just short of the mark. When you review job descriptions, for example, don’t you find that you rarely meet 100% of the sought-after qualifications? Most candidates have one or more areas in which they aren’t quite the ideal candidate, though they would still be an excellent candidate. Whether your amount of experience, level of education, lack of a specific certification/licensure, or immigration status are potential problems for prospective employers, these shortcomings need not be catastrophic.  They must, however, be squarely faced and defended against.

When I begin working with a new client, I automatically identify the liabilities I think they will face in their job search. As I triage their job search goals and job-hunt experience, I hone in on the liabilities that are most likely to derail their candidacy because that’s exactly what these weaknesses will do – they will cause recruiters not to call, hiring executives to ignore their resumes, and employers to rebuff their phone calls, inquiries, and networking approaches.

Are career liabilities death sentences then? Not in 99% of cases. The right resume structure, content, and keywords, when shared strategically with your LinkedIn profile and other career communications tools and when paired with proactive job search practices, are nearly always enough to smooth entry into the jobs you are targeting.

A few key principles to keep in mind as you troubleshoot your own career liabilities:

  • Resume and LinkedIn profile revamps can solve quite a few liabilities. These solutions may include actions like removing some jobs from your document, combining others, or inserting “equivalency” titles to make it clear that your position is a higher-level one than it sounds like on paper.
  • Rank your liabilities and focus first on the top 3 potentially most damaging ones. Ultimately it won’t be necessary to troubleshoot all of your liabilities, but it is critical to hone in on the most harmful ones and devise strategies to soften the blows they can deliver to your candidacy. Any liability that limits your ability to get your foot in the door with a target company is particularly important to remediate.
  • Beyond your resume and LinkedIn profile revamps, you may also need to consider which other career communications tools you may need. A bio, marketing brief, or networking resume can be a great foot-in-the-door tool that can pave the way for sharing the specifics of your career story once you’ve made it through initial screenings. If your LinkedIn profile is weak, consider attaching one of these three tools to help overcome recruiter objections.
  • Keep your top three liabilities in mind as you craft your resume summary and LinkedIn profile About section. These are big picture portions of your documents that can be shaped in many different ways depending on your chosen emphasis. By including more keywords and directing your gentle self-promotion in specific directions, you can persuade recruiters and hiring executives that what you bring to the table is well worth any hiring risk they think they perceive.
  • You may also need to consider which job search methodologies will work best for someone in your circumstances. Are you a good candidate for recruiters? Are you likely to make it through Applicant Tracking System screenings? If not, eliminate these methodologies and focus your time and attention on job search strategies better suited to candidates like you, including give-to-get networking, company targeting, spot opportunities, and thought leadership.

Be honest with yourself about the liabilities you possess which have the potential to derail your candidacy. When unaddressed directly and proactively, career liabilities can be overcome through some mix of remediation measures that reposition your experience as shared in your resume, LinkedIn profile, other career communications tools, job search strategies, messaging, and interviewing. This can be complex to muddle through, so get help from a certified resume writer and job search coach if you find that you need help.

What’s the most worrisome career liability that you face right now? What specific remediation steps can you take to limit it’s impact on your job hunt?

About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.