How To Disclose A Bad Job History
Applying for a job in the hospitality or restaurant industry is exciting, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Though the economy is getting stronger by the day—according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a majority of metro areas’ employment rates are up and unemployment rates are down—it’s still important for applicants to showcase a strong resume and diverse skill set. If there are any blemishes on an applicant’s resume, it can spell disaster in the job interview, assuming the job seeker makes it that far. Having elegant, honest explanations for negative elements are essential.
A few words of advice about honesty: It’s absolutely imperative. If during the course of the background check an employer discovers the candidate lied or even misrepresented some information, he or she will likely mistrust the rest of the resume. Tell the truth as delicately as possible if it’s unfortunate, but never lie.
The restaurant industry is notoriously volatile. Many eateries go under which are subject to management transitions and suffer from temperamental personalities at the top. It’s the job seeker’s first task to show reasonable interpretations behind the numerous moves.
The cover letter is a great place to mention why one might have had five jobs in two years. Hotels and restaurants commonly experience high turnover rates, so a spotty work history may not seem overly concerning. Emphasizing a desire to learn a multitude of skills gracefully glosses over the details in a cover letter, though they need to be expanded upon in an interview. If there was a personality conflict, it’s fine to say so, but never cast either party in a negative light. It is recommended to simply state,“The environment just wasn’t right…” Here are other suggestions.
- I was new to hospitality management and could not develop the necessary skills in a timely manner; I have since taken courses to improve beyond the required level.
- I survived two changes in management, but the third opted to hire an entirely new staff.
- My skills developed beyond the job description, and there were no open positions at my level of expertise available.
It goes without saying, however, that these explanations only work if they’re true.
Many of the jobs in this industry only require a high school diploma, because it’s all about on the job training and a certain set of skills. Thus, someone with limited traditional experience should present a resume that lists skills first. This functional resume offers what employers are searching for where they can find it quickly, without forcing them to slog through a narrow history that only serves as a negative lead-in. In the interview, highlight assets such as:
- Willingness and aptitude for learning.
- Excellent customer service skills (with examples of experience).
- Alternative food preparation experience (if applicable).
Think outside the box for examples of experience, including clubs, sports, afterschool activities, and even family related events. Not only does this prove a broad range of skills, but also an ability to think on one’s feet.
The trickiest negative to overcome is getting fired for cause. If the previous employer has no intention of stating the facts regarding the termination, the employee isn’t legally required to volunteer the information, and he or she should not. Explaining that the environment wasn’t right, that there was a personality conflict, or that it was a simple lay-off is best. But, if the previous boss is expounding upon the dismissal, it might be time to speak with an attorney. No company wants to deal with a lawsuit. Otherwise, the job seeker should explain that a mistake was made and he or she undertook efforts to learn from the error.
Over the past 12 months, the leisure and hospitality industry added 406,000 jobs with food services and drinking places accounting for 80 percent of the job growth. It's a fantastic place to start or continue a career, but only the best are taken. Making the most of a resume by highlighting skills and downplaying negatives is a necessity for acquiring an interview and getting hired. Tactful, honest, and positive explanations can easily overcome a few blemishes in any work history; it just requires confidence, appropriate word choices, and plenty of practice.
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