How to handle a “gap” in employment is a frequently discussed and debated topic for job seekers, resume writers and other career professionals. General wisdom is that employers prefer to hire people who are currently employed, or at least who have a consistent work history. But real people make choices based on family obligations and important other human factors that don’t always match the picture of an “ideal” candidate.
There are, to be fair, several challenges if you are returning to work after an absence. How can you accurately assess your career options? What steps can you take to build your confidence and sharpen your interview skills? What are some strategies for finding meaningful work? These are all great questions to explore—and none of them have anything to do with a true problem or impossibility in finding work.
I do not subscribe to the idea that there is something “wrong” if you took a break from the workforce to raise children, care for an ailing parent, or heal from an illness yourself. These choices prove only that you are a caring, committed human being. I do not necessarily recommend that you reveal the reason for your work sabbatical on your resume, especially if you have significant accomplishments to share from that time period; but I don’t think it’s a complete no-no either.
I have seen resumes that use an inspiring story of cancer recovery to prove how an executive job seeker attacks every challenge in his life and comes out ahead. I have seen people be explicit about the reason for their work hiatus, and get a great job. Some of my tips for other ways to handle a resume gap can be found in my book, How to Write a WINNING Resume… 50 Tips to Reach Your Job Search Target, which is FREE on Amazon through Tuesday October 22! Click below to download the book FREE today!
November 6th Conference for People Returning to Work
I will be speaking at the Connect Work Thrive Conference in the San Francisco Bay Area on resumes and employment gaps, as well as on writing a KILLER LinkedIn® profile, on November 6th. If you are located in California and would like to join me for a day full of top-notch advice and strategies on returning to work, please register for the conference by October 22 (last day for special pricing) to get $50 off the conference price ($150 off the walk-in price!), PLUS an additional $50 off when you use coupon code ESSAYEXPERT. See the workshop schedule here. At the conference you will…
- identify and effectively communicate your areas of strength
- determine resources you need
- learn successful return-to-work strategies and tactics
- connect with firms in need of your skills
In the long run, if you identify a job that’s the right fit, have the necessary skills and knowledge for the position, and present those skills powerfully on your resume, I believe you will likely get an interview even with a resume “gap.” Walk into your interview well-prepared and with confidence, and you can impress even the most skeptical hiring manager to get a meaningful job you truly want.