Bleaching the Red Flags

Since we are being introspective, chances are good Recruiters and Hiring Managers will concoct real or imagined negatives about you as a prospective employee. We affectionately call these Red Flags. Through cold, candid introspection, you can prepare to address those perceived negatives. Many can even be turned into positives. If they are not uncovered and addressed, they will block your chances of getting hired. (Click on picture above to read the rest of the article)

Although you may stumble during the interview itself, it’s more likely that what they think is a negative will be a misunderstanding of your past or the perception you’re lacking a desired trait or ability. No worries, we all have Red Flags!  Preparing for them now will ready you for asked (and unasked) questions during interviews. Your answers will just roll off your tongue as if those perceived minuses are advantages.

Let’s uncover and address your potential Red Flags:

  1. List what you perceive as negatives for someone hiring you;
  2. Create a story turning those perceived negatives into a positive OR create a spin minimizing the negative;
  3. Formulate questions to uncover possible hidden objections to you so the matter can be addressed with your Red Flag stories;
  4. Practice your Red Flag questions and stories until you are comfortable with them and casual in your response.

You should be able to recognize many of your own shortcomings (you’re liable to see yourself more negatively than others do), but expand your Red Flag research by asking friends, family, former co-workers and managers for help. Be sure to tell them to pull no punches (and don’t take what they say personally!).

Here are some examples of potential Red Flags:

  • Education (too much or too little);
  • Gaps in your recent professional history;
  • “Bridge Jobs” (jobs that don’t seem to fit a normal career path – or jobs you took to pay the bills);
  • Lack of technical skills, licenses, certifications, etc;
  • Desire to drastically change careers;
  • Job history (too many or too few employers);
  • Experience (seemingly over or under qualified);
  • Age;
  • Geographic change;
  • Physical restrictions.

How do I overcome Red Flags?

Let’s use a resume gap, for example.

Interviewer: Can you explain the gap in your employment history from year X to year Y?

Candidate: Yes, I was  caring for caring for an ailing child (or parent), “but those restrictions are no longer a factor and I seek to return to what I do best…

You might explain a Bridge Job by saying, “During the worst recession since the Great Depression, I took that job because I had responsibilities and I didn’t want to go on the government dole.” Can you see how a statement like this can turn a potential negative into a positive?

Your position may have been eliminated during a downsizing, “…but I can show you glowing recommendations from my former manager.”

I often explain that excellent sales people present the positives of their product or service and minimize (or not mention) its negatives. The same stance must be taken in your job search Marketing Campaign. Remember, virtually any Red Flag can be minimized or turned into a positive if you create a plausible story explaining your side of the story.