Scj Blog 800x460px Tricky Moments

Handling tricky career moments

By Gemma Raw

​We all dream of having a flawless CV; one which shows our career trajectory and highlights our expertise and knowledge. But whilst some lucky people have a career which is plain-sailing, others may find that they have had some ups and downs which could cast a shadow on their professional expertise. If you’re looking for your next criminal justice job role, then it may be wise to consider how your CV looks to potential hiring managers. You may know that you have the capability to handle the job role, but there may be some skeletons lurking in your career wardrobe which could cause doubt. Long periods of unemployment, health-related issues or even tricky moments from your past could be enough to prevent you from making the most of your opportunities.

So, how can you handle these moments and present yourself as an ideal candidate for the job role? Let’s take a look…

Always be truthful

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to recruitment practices. Whether you were let go from a previous job role or you had an issue with a professional body, it’s always wise to be up-front with recruiters about what the situation was, and what you have learnt from it.

In professions such as youth offending or probation, it’s not uncommon to find practitioners who may have been inspired to train as probation officers or substance misuse workers following their own personal experiences. If this is something that you have lived through, then rather than hiding away from your past, use it as a strength. Use your CV or your interview to demonstrate how your personal experience has guided your career; show how you’ve overcome any difficulties and how it makes you a stronger practitioner. 

In relation to your CV, make sure that everything is 100% accurate.

Factual data such as employment dates or qualifications are easily identifiable so it’s imperative that you tell the truth. If a hiring manager undertakes basic checks and discovers that you’re not being honest, then you’ll quickly find yourself looking for a new opportunity.

Explaining long career gaps doesn’t need to be difficult

If you’ve taken a long career gap (six months or more) then you may feel under pressure to explain your reasons. Regardless of whether it was a result of unemployment, health-related issues or even simply time off to recharge your batteries, it’s much more common than you may think. Making simple formatting changes can sometimes be enough to help you focus on your strengths whilst still remaining honest and truthful.

If you are asked by any hiring managers about any career gaps, then the most important thing you can do is to show how you’ve kept your skills up to date during your break. If you’re working in a job role where professional registration is required (such as offender healthcare) then you may need to check with your professional body what the requirements are.

For example, the Nursing and Midwifery Council have published strong guidance on how to return to practice following a career break.

If you’ve used your time away to focus on voluntary work, then use your CV and/or your interview to explain how your new skills/experience are applicable to the workplace. You may be amazed to discover how transferable some skills are!

Think about what you are saying and how you say it

If you’re in an interview, and you’re questioned about a time where you struggled with a co-worker, or you’re asked to explain why your contract was terminated by a previous employer it can be a natural reaction to go on the defensive. You may find old emotions are stirred up or you may struggle to hide your feelings. In an interview situation, this could be a huge turn-off for any prospective employers. 

If you know that you have a past moment which is likely to be discussed in an interview situation, practice what you want to say. You may find that your Sanctuary consultant is best placed to help you. After all, they can suggest how to explain certain career moments or practice some interview questions with you to help you with your nerves. 

Practicing what you want to say, and how you want to say it, can help you feel much more confident when answering tricky questions. 

If you have a delicate matter within your career history and you’re unsure how to address this on your CV or ahead of an interview, please make sure you speak with your Sanctuary consultant. We can work closely with you to find the most appropriate ways to share tricky moments, whilst simultaneously highlighting your strengths. If you need any advice or guidance, please make sure you give us a call.