In theory, resumes are supposed to be about the individual professional; however, in reality, sometimes hiring managers may judge a candidate too much by who their previous employers were. In situations where a previous employer had a bad reputation, went out of business or has become aligned with controversy, it can be hard for job seekers to know how to address this experience without gaining unnecessary criticism from the individual reviewing a resume.
At Chic Resumes, we believe it is imperative that an individual is defined by his or her skills—not the businesses he or she has worked for. As such, there are strategic ways to describe previous employment with a less-than-savory employer. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do Not Omit the Employer
If an employer seems to have a bad reputation, especially if it is in a similar industry that you are applying for, it can be tempting to omit the experience altogether. However, putting a gap in your resume when you were employed is a bad idea—and will not gain any favoritism from a hiring manager. Despite the reputation of a previous employer, keep the experience on your resume.
- Highlight Your Progress in the Previous Position
As noted above, a resume should be all about you. No matter what your previous employers are, it is always a great idea to showcase how you progressed through the company. Highlighting promotions, awards, increases in responsibilities and expansion into a management role are all ways to quantify your progress with an employer that may not have been so progressive.
- Your Accomplishments Can Be Separate From That Of the Employer
Just because a previous employer tanked or developed a nasty reputation does not mean you have to carry that humiliation with you. An easy way to get around this is to focus on the accomplishments you directly made at the company, even if it was headed in a negative direction during your accomplishment.
Did you lead any new projects? Did you implement any successful marketing strategies? Did sales increase as a result of your contributions? Did you expand clientele? These are all positive questions to ask and to answer on a resume—and you do not even have to mention any negatives.
Explaining Your Departure
If your resume gains the approval of a hiring manager, there are still aspects of interviewing that may be complicated by a previous employer’s bad reputation. While a past employer’s failures may feel like the elephant in the room, it is important to never express negativity about this position. Start off on the right foot by avoiding negatives in your cover letter; instead, explain how you grew in the position and are ready to use your skills to seek a new career opportunity.
If a company’s bad reputation or poor performance gets brought up in an interview, it is important to always steer the conversation back toward you and your strengths. Focusing too much, or at all, on the pitfalls of your past employer could lead hiring parties to form a negative opinion of you and how you may react to their business’ challenges.
Give Your Resume a Good Reputation
While past employers may have developed a poor reputation, there are many ways to strengthen your resume so that you develop a great reputation as a professional. If you need help crafting a resume that focuses on the positives, contact the professional Chic Resumes writing team at (803) 831-7444
How to Address a Previous Employer with a Bad Reputation on a Resume