… “that was a mistake… poor business judgment… If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it”

It’s really easy these days and for the past few years to make a mistake in taking a job. Companies are a lot more erratic than ever. In 1973, when I got in this business, the average company was 59 years old. In 2012, the average company United States was 15 years old and in 2014, the average age was 12 years old. Companies come and go more than ever.

It is easier to make a mistake in taking a job today than it ever has been. Business is more treacherous. Unfortunately when candidates have one, two or even three of these unfortunate incidences on their resume, they have a tendency to justify the mistake. When the hiring authority questions the moves, most candidates want to defend them and claim it just wasn’t their fault. And, most of the time, it wasn’t.

But I have to tell you that taking a defensive stance of “it wasn’t my fault,” will only lead to disaster. The more a candidate defends themselves this way, the worse off they are. They will never win that argument.

The thing to say, and this can apply to any apparent mistake in your career, is to admit that it was a mistake. Now, the fewer you have of these better, but most every hiring authority with any experience will appreciate other people making a mistake. Having said that, however, the candidate better have a good number of reasons, and good business reasons, as to why they were mistakes.

This kind of humility, along with brevity in the discussion, will go a long way in neutralizing the majority of pejorative feelings that the interviewing or hiring authority may have towards the issue. Now, saying something like, “That was a real mistake… those people are really stupid. I can’t believe they were so dumb!” won’t work! Something along the lines, “If I knew before I went to work there that they were grossly underfunded and the company was in the middle of a hostile takeover, I wouldn’t have made the move,” would be a lot better.

So if you have some glitches in your background, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that one or two of them were just plain mistakes, human error! Every business person has made tons of mistakes and, if it is presented in the right way, mistakes will not be held against you.

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