In a perfect world, we’d all have our dream jobs, stellar employment histories, great bosses, ideal work places and nothing but perfect career experiences. Everything would be … well, perfect.
And that’s the last time I’m going to use the “P” word. Because in reality, things may happen that interrupt your flawless climb up the professional ladder. Children are born and maternity is taken, relatives take ill, companies reorganize … life happens. So if your career has been marred by gaps in employment, how do you best present yourself when the time comes to find a new job?
You Need to Have “Hope”
There are certain bosses who hate the word “hope” and forbid their employees from using it. Hoping, they might argue, did not get the job done. Actions did. And while one can see their point, hope is a key part of four attributes which are critical to your professional success – and even more so when you need to explain gaps in your employment history. And they are: honesty, optimism, a positive attitude, and enthusiasm. In other words, you need to have hope. Then you can take the right actions to succeed in your job search.
- In your cover letter, on your resume, and during interviews, be forthright and honest about your employment history.
- Consider a functional resume or similar format, which highlights your skills and strengths and downplays specific job dates.
- Use your cover letter as a tool to personalize and explain career gaps. For example, if you’ve completed professional training during career downtime, you might want to say something like this: “I have already completed 15 hours toward my MBA and would like to build a new career in financial accounting.”
- Convey to your prospective employer the accomplishments and achievements you’ve realized during employment gaps, such as volunteer, free-lance or consulting work, or continuing education to stay current in your field. Add these to your resume.
- Regardless of what happened to make you leave a previous job, be optimistic about what makes you the perfect candidate for this job.
- If you were laid off from a previous job due to workforce cuts, provide examples of your successful performance there. If possible, secure recommendations from that employer. (You also can utilize these on your LinkedIn profile.)
- If you lost a job due to performance shortfalls, explain steps you’ve taken to improve and emphasize how your skill set is better suited to the new job.
- Never criticize previous employers.
- If you’ve taken a career hiatus, make it clear that it’s over now and that you’re ready to contribute to your new employer’s success.
- Emphasize the constructive activities you’ve completed, both in prior jobs and during breaks in your career history.
Addressing employment gaps can be challenging and requires some finely honed skills and maybe even some practice. Consider working with a professional recruiter as you prepare for this experience. Contact the team at Select Group for more information!