By Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers (Westport, Co. Mayo)
Q: I spent 13 successful years in my previous job in the marketing department of a hotel chain, rising to the position of marketing manager. I left two years ago to join another company, didn’t really like it, and left after a year to pursue a long-postponed dream to set up my own business. Looking back now, I should have postponed that dream still further because the business just didn’t take off. Now I’m trying to get back into the hotel industry and have seen some jobs that suit me. I am just worried how I might depict the last two years of my career in such a way that they don’t ruin my chances of getting back into paid employment. Any ideas? (LT, email).
A: To use – and slightly paraphrase – the most dreaded term in Irish public life: you are where you are.
But, actually, yes, you really are where you are.
You can’t change the past. You can’t deny what happened. And why should you?
Career paths can often be mazy affairs. Not everyone gets it right every time – and, anyway, you will have learned a great deal about yourself, and the world, over the past two years.
My main advice is to set up your CV in such a way that the front page highlights your successes. Clearly, there have been many of those to date.
List them under a section called Key Achievements, Attributes & Competencies. Use them to prove you have what is required for your kind of role – capacity to develop and execute marketing campaigns, knowledge of the various marketing and social media platforms, industry contacts, media contacts and expertise, familiarity with the many promotional fairs and shows that take place in this sector and ideas about how to successfully promote hotels.
Talk explicitly about successes – media exposure, successful promotions, and the like – and give numbers. Nothing proves quite like proof. If you can point to your role in increasing bed night numbers, or turnover, then do.
Don’t forget that you had 13 good years. Your employers trusted you to do a good job, and promoted you up through the ranks. All of that is excellent evidence and it is in no way tarnished by the last two years.
Make a positive first impression. By the time they get to the part where your detail your exact career movements, they should have gained an impression of you as someone they need to talk to – and the whole thing of the last two years holing your application below the water-line is more of an issue in your head than it need to be.
I would certainly use setting up your own business as a plus point. It shows courage, creativity and the right of restlessness. It suggests someone who wants to get on in life. It gives you a new perspective on what it’s like to keep a business viable.
What employer wouldn’t want someone like that?
Frame your CV the right way – and talk the right talk in interview – and you won’t be seen as a risky hire. The onus rests with you though to put all of this information in front of the employer in the appropriate manner. As a general rule, approach career development on the basis that employers might well reach the most negative conclusion possible about you, unless you convince them otherwise.
Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Westport, Co. Mayo. You can read more about her, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.
More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE