Your Career Liabilities: Why They Matter

job search liabilities assessmentWhy aren’t you getting hired when you’re a great candidate for the roles you’re pursuing? Chances are it’s 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 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, these shortcomings need not be catastrophic, they must be squarely faced and worked through.

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 key words, 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:

Always tell the truth. Lies and “black hat” techniques such as key word stuffing will out in the end and may be considered cause for immediate termination.

  • 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 higher level than it sounds on paper.
  • Prioritize 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 worth prioritizing.
  • 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 and LinkedIn profile summaries. These are big picture portions of documents that can be shaped in many different ways depending on your chosen emphasis. By including more key words 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 the hiring risk.
  • 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.

To help you get a handle on your career liabilities load, try the proprietary assessment included below. It’s long, but since it’s a simple checklist it only takes a few minutes to complete. You’ll receive your results right away. As suggested above, prioritize your liabilities and start tacking your top three today.



Discover Your Job Search Liabilities

Review the following career liabilities and check any and all that apply to you. Be sure to click “submit” when done.

I possess more experience than employers are looking for.
I have less experience than employers are looking for.
I possess more education than employers value.
I have too little education.
My experience encompasses too many industries.
My experience is in predominantly a single industry.
I have never held the title(s) I am pursuing in my search.
I have been in my current role less than 2 years.
I have been in my current role more than 5 years.
I have held more than 5 jobs throughout my career.
I have held the same title for more than 10 years.
I have earned so many promotions that my career story is hard to convey.
I have earned few or no promotions to date.
I do not possess a certification deemed important in my career field.
I have not job searched in more than 3 years.
I have not job searched in more than 10 years.
I have not ever had to job search.
I personally know of no recruiters.
My professional network is small.
I do not have the network that I need.
I have never used LinkedIn.
I am uncomfortable with networking.
I am unfamiliar with networking.
I do not have time to job search.
I am not very good at interviewing.
I am not very good at self-promotion.
I do not know what behavior-based interviewing is.
I don’t know how to source job leads.
I don’t know how to connect with target companies.
I have not identified any target companies I would like to work for.
I am not interested in developing or writing thought leadership content for LinkedIn.
I may tend to talk too much in interviews.
I struggle with projecting my personality in interviews.
I am not comfortable with salary negotiations.
I am attempting to relocate to an area where I have zero connections.
I am trying to break into a new industry.
I am attempting to land a job in a career field in which I possess no relevant experience.
I have been fired (for cause) from one or more jobs.
I am currently laid off.
I am seeking my first job out of college.
I am seeking a C-suite role but have no prior C-suite experience.
I am seeking an executive position but possess no prior executive experience.
I lack key skills candidates are expected to possess in my career field.
I believe my candidacy will be viewed as over-qualified.
I believe my candidacy will be viewed as under-qualified.
I believe I am too introverted to network successfully.
I expect a recruiter to place me in a job.
I believe job boards offer me the best way to land a new job.
My last job search lasted more than 1 year.
My last job search lasted more than 2 years.
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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.

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