How Your Job History Can Affect Your Career Future

  | James Innes

Throughout the duration of your career, you may make certain decisions, or your employer may make decisions for you, which can have a significant impact on how your job history appears to potential employers.  It is tempting to try to gloss over certain aspects of your career when preparing your CV or resume, so here is a useful guide on how to deal with possible negative situations in the most positive way possible.

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Speeding up the career ladder
On occasion, the drive and ambition that took you to the top of your company can be viewed with suspicion by colleagues and future employers.  They may be tempted to assume that this rapid progression was in some way achieved through dishonest means such as having close friends in high places.  It can also make some people concerned that you are highly self-interested and, therefore, not a team player.

The best way to handle this in your CV or resume is to make sure that, as much as possible, you emphasise not only what you contributed to the company on a personal level but also how you worked closely with others to achieve this.  Highlight not only what you brought to the company but also what you learned from them and from your colleagues.

Frequently changing jobs
It is very easy for an employer to look at a CV or resume where someone has had three or four jobs in one year and make the natural assumption that they are perhaps not committed or not capable of focusing on the job in hand.  There may be any number of reasons why you have changed jobs so frequently, including simply that you didn’t enjoy the work, but it is important that you try to emphasise what you learned during this time.  Highlight the diversity of the companies you worked for and, therefore, the variety of skills which you acquired as a result.  Also, make it perfectly clear that you are looking for a permanent role that will utilise your knowledge and experience.

Being made redundant
It is important to remember that being made redundant is not necessarily a reflection on your ability to perform a job.  It is a position itself that is made redundant rather than an individual person.  It is, therefore, not necessary to elaborate on this in your CV but rather save any explanation that may be necessary for the interview where you can explain why the company made the redundancies. 

Changing the direction of your career
What if you decide that you simply don’t want to be doing what you are doing any more and want to try something completely different?  There are certain problems which may arise from this, including the fact that potential employers will see that you have no relevant experience in the field you wish to enter and, therefore, may be lacking in the appropriate skills.  The best thing to do in this case is to make sure you highlight your willingness to learn new skills and to undertake any necessary training to enable you to successfully change the direction of your career.  Also, it is important that you demonstrate that you have the right attitude and are really keen to pursue your new career.

Staying in one job for many years
There are both positive and negative ways of looking at someone who has been with the same company for the majority of their career.  While some people may consider this to be a reflection of your loyalty and commitment, others may think this is a sign that you lack ambition.  You can help yourself by trying as much as you can to diversify within the company you work for and to gain as broad a skills set as possible.  Make sure that you acquire skills which are easily transferable to other companies and that you explain what specifically you have achieved during your employment.

By having a clearer idea of what prospective employers will think when they see your job history, you should be able to adapt your CV or resume in such a way as to ensure that you reflect all the positive aspects of your experience while avoiding anything that could have negative connotations.

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