• Designing your career takes self-knowledge, rational planning, opportunism and guts. But as most of us will have long since realised, things rarely go according to plan. Real, un-airbrushed résumés have hard-to-explain gaps, redundancies and yes, the odd sacking. Here are Management Today’s top tips for smoothing over those bumps in the road.

    Designing your career takes self-knowledge, rational planning, opportunism and guts. But as most of us will have long since realised, things rarely go according to plan. Real, un-airbrushed résumés have hard-to-explain gaps, redundancies and yes, the odd sacking. Here are Management Today’s top tips for smoothing over those bumps in the road.

  • I WAS MADE REDUNDANT:  To an extent, recruiters only know what you tell them. When you’ve been made redundant, depersonalise the situation.

    I WAS MADE REDUNDANT: To an extent, recruiters only know what you tell them. When you’ve been made redundant, depersonalise the situation.

  • I WAS MADE REDUNDANT:  ‘The story you’re telling is that it’s a business decision. It’s not about you or your individual capabilities – even if secretly you felt it might have been,’ says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management.

    I WAS MADE REDUNDANT: ‘The story you’re telling is that it’s a business decision. It’s not about you or your individual capabilities – even if secretly you felt it might have been,’ says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management.

  • I’VE BEEN FIRED:  This is harder than a redundancy, but the principle’s the same. ‘It’s a really common story, you’re happy at an organisation, then a new boss comes with their own ideas. You took a different view, you felt like it was going in a different direction and that it was time for you to come out,’ says Mills.

    I’VE BEEN FIRED: This is harder than a redundancy, but the principle’s the same. ‘It’s a really common story, you’re happy at an organisation, then a new boss comes with their own ideas. You took a different view, you felt like it was going in a different direction and that it was time for you to come out,’ says Mills.

  • I’VE BEEN FIRED:  Remember that you don’t need to tell them all the gory details, but if they ask you directly if you've been sacked, you can’t lie – it will only come back to bite you.

    I’VE BEEN FIRED: Remember that you don’t need to tell them all the gory details, but if they ask you directly if you've been sacked, you can’t lie – it will only come back to bite you.

  • I QUIT:  Hating your job – or your boss – is a pretty good reason to quit. But you don’t want to look like you can’t get along with people or handle your work.

    I QUIT: Hating your job – or your boss – is a pretty good reason to quit. But you don’t want to look like you can’t get along with people or handle your work.

  • I QUIT:  Avoid talking about emotionally sensitive issues, which can bring it all flooding back. If your interview story about overcoming conflict makes you cry, it’s probably safer to find something else to talk about.

    I QUIT: Avoid talking about emotionally sensitive issues, which can bring it all flooding back. If your interview story about overcoming conflict makes you cry, it’s probably safer to find something else to talk about.

  • I HAVE A LONG CAREER GAP:  Family commitments and health problems frequently cause employment gaps. If you’re returning to work, you need to show you’re ready for it.

    I HAVE A LONG CAREER GAP: Family commitments and health problems frequently cause employment gaps. If you’re returning to work, you need to show you’re ready for it.

  • I HAVE A LONG CAREER GAP:  ‘Account for the time and show you’ve been getting yourself back up to speed - consultancy work for a friend’s business, training or helping out a local charity,’ says Mills. If you haven’t been preparing, start now.

    I HAVE A LONG CAREER GAP: ‘Account for the time and show you’ve been getting yourself back up to speed - consultancy work for a friend’s business, training or helping out a local charity,’ says Mills. If you haven’t been preparing, start now.

  • I'M A JOB HOPPER:  We’re told restless millennials are behind a trend towards shorter job tenures, but that won’t explain why you’ve had 11 jobs in two years.

    I'M A JOB HOPPER: We’re told restless millennials are behind a trend towards shorter job tenures, but that won’t explain why you’ve had 11 jobs in two years.

  • I’M A JOB HOPPER:  ‘You have to convince the interviewer that you’re 100% committed to the role you’re applying for now,’ says Mills. Focus on the pull factors – how you came to know this job was for you.

    I’M A JOB HOPPER: ‘You have to convince the interviewer that you’re 100% committed to the role you’re applying for now,’ says Mills. Focus on the pull factors – how you came to know this job was for you.

  • I’M A LATE STARTER:  Plenty of people successfully retrain later in life for a completely different career. But it can be daunting to enter a new job market competing with graduates 25 years your junior.

    I’M A LATE STARTER: Plenty of people successfully retrain later in life for a completely different career. But it can be daunting to enter a new job market competing with graduates 25 years your junior.

  • I’M A LATE STARTER:  Leverage the experience you do have, which may be more relevant than you think. People and organisational skills, for instance, are widely transferable.

    I’M A LATE STARTER: Leverage the experience you do have, which may be more relevant than you think. People and organisational skills, for instance, are widely transferable.

  • A FINAL RESORT:  There’s a lot you can do to improve your chances, but if you still feel your CV really is indescribably awful, adjust your expectations. If possible, avoid advertised roles, which will have lots of competition.

    A FINAL RESORT: There’s a lot you can do to improve your chances, but if you still feel your CV really is indescribably awful, adjust your expectations. If possible, avoid advertised roles, which will have lots of competition.

  • A FINAL RESORT:  ‘Make direct approaches and use your network. People who know you are more likely to give you a chance,’ says Mills.

    A FINAL RESORT: ‘Make direct approaches and use your network. People who know you are more likely to give you a chance,’ says Mills.

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How to recover from a career disaster

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 06 Mar 2018

Images: Shutterstock

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