Take these tips to make the best out of a tough job search situation.
By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer
Everybody has a weakness of some sort — the challenge comes when that weakness interferes with your job search. There are ways to turn your weakness into a strength and eliminate red flags when you’re job hunting. Here are four common job candidate weaknesses and what you can do to mitigate them.
“A top weakness we see in applicants is too little experience in a field,” says Michelle Burke, marketing supervisor for WyckWyre. But if you have little to no experience for a position, highlight your skills and traits that show you can learn quickly.
“Inexperience can be an advantage because you can always train skills, just not personality,” Burke says. “Focus on experiences you’ve had in a group setting, school, etc. and use those advantages to show your capacity in skills for a job.”
This weakness can show up when someone is looking to change careers, but it’s simply a question of framing, says Kate McKeon, CEO of Prepwise. She worked with someone who had solid work experience as a grade school teacher, but wanted to work in finance with transportation industry clients. “We had to sell the quantitative abilities and crossover skills,” she says. “For example, running a class of fourth-graders became ‘managing multiple concurrent projects.’ If you really dig into the experience you have there are takeaway skills. The more those can be tailored to the firm you are applying to, the better.”
Work history gap
This weakness can be a little more difficult to manage, because you have to work on it as soon as the gap begins because of a layoff or resignation. William Gutches, engagement quality assurance representative at Symbiosis Consulting, recommends volunteering and taking classes to boost your skills as ways to fill empty time on your résumé. “No one who reads your résumé knows whether you are being paid for these efforts or not, but the fact that you are engaged in several efforts shows you are working at your career, developing new knowledge and skills, and have energy for more than one focal point,” he says.
While both employers and employees don’t expect rookie-to-retirement work with one employer, hopping jobs too quickly can make you look like you’re not willing to commit. Gutches recommends presenting it as a focus on building a strong and deep skill set in a difficult area.
Ciara Pressler of the Pressler Collaborative recommends taking a page from freelancers and highlighting the common themes of your work. “Group them under a common heading (such as ‘arts administration internships’) to make yourself look experienced instead of cut-and-run,” she says.
A weak match
If you find a dream opportunity with your ideal employer, but feel like your skills just aren’t the right fit, give it a try anyway, Pressler says, while focusing on what you can do to make it work. “Rather than assume you don’t fit perfectly into what they’re looking for, build a case as to why you are the ideal candidate to solve their problem,” she says. “The résumé is your opportunity to break down why the professional experience you’ve had until now is relevant and valuable.”