Overcoming Your Career Mistakes – How to Get Past Your Past

If my current employers judged me for who I was when I was younger, I would likely not be where I am now. Each of us is human; we’ve made mistakes in our careers, and decisions we are not proud of. I am proof, though, that your past can be your past, and you can still have a bright career ahead.

Here are the top career mistakes I see as a recruiter which you can still overcome.

  1. “I’ve never stayed at one job for long, but now I want a stable, long-term career.”

The problem:

Longevity is one of the first things I look for when reviewing resumes. If it looks like you switch jobs every 6 months to a year, an employer may think you will do the same thing to them.

How to overcome this mistake:

First of all, you need to be able to positively explain why you left those positions. Do not blame your previous employers. Instead, focus on how you grew from that opportunity and the type of culture that would entice your loyalty. If at all possible, do not desperately take any job that comes along. Wait for the right opportunity so that you set yourself up to work somewhere you’ll want to stay.

  1. “I had too many tardies/absences, and they let me go.”

The problem:

Employers want to hire someone they can count on, not someone they’re going to have to keep an eye on.

How to overcome this mistake:

Regardless of the reason you were let go, take ownership; don’t try and hide it or blame it away. Share with your interviewer how you’ve changed. What did you learn? What do you do differently now? What systems have you put in place to make sure that mistake never happens again? No one is perfect, and pretending otherwise will not do you any favors.

  1. “I took the first job offer out of school, and it was not a good fit.”

The problem:

When you take a job offer that isn’t a fit, it affects your dedication, your desire to grow within that position or company, and your inclination to stay. It can start you off on the wrong foot and send your career on a slower path to success.

How to overcome this mistake:

Tell the truth. Recent graduates and individuals with little professional experience are commonly unaware that they should be vetting the company during the interview process. Once you’ve entered the working world, it should be easier for you to pinpoint the key attributes that will help you succeed and contribute all you can in the work place. Don’t establish a pattern of making this mistake, which could make you look like a job hopper, putting you in the same position a few months down the road. Instead:

  • Do your research on an organization before you accept a job offer.
  • Read reviews. Ask for guidance from your mentors or a trusted colleague.
  • Prepare questions for your recruiter or for your job interviewer.
  • Just as a company researches you before making an offer, you need to do your own due diligence.
  • If you say something was not a good fit, be prepared to say why. What would be a good fit for you?
  1. “My anxiety level is off the charts because I keep bombing interviews.”

The problem:

You can’t focus on the individual questions from the interviewer because you’re too busy worrying about the interview overall.

How to overcome this mistake:

Try looking at it from a different perspective. I interview people for a living, but in my past, I was not always the most charming candidate. I stumbled over questions, I’ve accidently been late, and in some interviews, I was just off my game.

Instead of focusing on the mistakes you’ve made and worrying that they’ll happen again, focus on what you’ve learned from those mistakes. Use that knowledge to anticipate questions and better prepare for other interviews. Use your experience interviewing at different companies to get a better picture of what you truly want out of a future employer.

  1. “I got in some legal trouble.”

The problem:

If you’ve made a criminal mistake, whether a misdemeanor or felony, the legal system keeps a permanent record of that mistake that will show up in a background check.

How to overcome this mistake:

The best advice I can give is to be honest about your past. Otherwise, it may come back to haunt you. Most employers will still hire candidates with misdemeanors on their record. Many will even hire candidates with felonies far enough in the past, or if the charges are unrelated to the type of position you’re seeking. However, if that mistake is discovered in the background check process, a hiring manager may think you tried to hide it from them.

I know which of my clients will hire candidates with legal troubles in their past, and which won’t. Let me help you overcome the challenge by telling me up front.

What mistakes have you made that you’d like help overcoming? Feel free to ask questions. That’s what we’re here for!

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Mosaic Personnel

Mosaic Personnel

Professional Staffing
Mosaic Personnel is a specialty Oklahoma staffing agency for top professionals in IT, Engineering, Accounting and HR. We recruit for direct hire, contract and contract-to-hire jobs in Oklahoma City and across the state.

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