Things have certainly changed a lot in terms of what is considered the norm with career paths:
- Staying with one company in a position that spans multiple decades is now the exception, not the rule.
- More folks are working on side gigs and other entrepreneurial endeavors.
- Trust between employer and employee has been declining.
- The existence of employment gaps in candidates’ work history are becoming increasingly common.
Sadly, some employers make broad-based generalizations regarding employment gaps and may use that to screen out candidates. Fortunately, there are others who value what the candidate brings to the table, despite an applicant’s employment status.
Instead of bemoaning the hiring managers who are not show compassion regarding an employment gap, thinking of it as a bullet dodged. What else would they not understand if you were hired by them? Also consider it an opportunity to work for an awesome company that truly values its employees!
That being said, it is still important to be able to explain the reasons behind an employment gap. You haven’t been just veg out on your couch all day playing video games and watching TV, did you? Because a prospective employer is going to want to know what you are doing during the gap, you need to know the answer.
Consider these questions to help fill in the pieces:
- Have you volunteered?
- Are you taking classes or attend seminars to keep your knowledge up-to-date?
- Are you a member of an industry organization? Have you been in a leadership role with the group during your gap?
- Have you contributed to the advancement of your profession in other ways? Maybe you write a blog, or you actively participate in a professional LinkedIn group, or you mentor college students in your field.
Whatever it is you have been doing, document your activities just as you would a job. Note the dates you were (or are) involved with them, keep track of accomplishments, log progress that is made, record any stories that would convey challenges you faced in the course of your activity and how you overcame them.
By proactively filling in the gap(s) on your résumé and crafting your talking points for any job interviews you receive, the employment gap becomes a non-issue. Instead of a gap being a liability, you are showing your passion for what you do and letting your accomplishments shine!
How can these suggestions help you fill your employment gap?
Image courtesy of Andy Arthur
Melissa Cooley of The Job Quest, LLC unearths clients’ career examples to showcase the talents and results that make them must-hire candidates. Click here for more information on ways to partner with Melissa for your career success!
Melissa is a contributor to the book Nourish Your Career, has been quoted on Monster.com, Dice.com, and Quintessential Careers, has interviewed numerous times for The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, and has written guest posts for multiple job seeker blogs.