Filling in the Gaps
Does taking a break from the 9-5 sounds like a dream that will never become reality? Whilst most of us picture an ideal career gap as time sitting on a tropical island enjoying the high life, a gap in your career doesn’t have to be so far fetched.
Giving you time to focus on developing new skills, exploring new avenues in your career, travelling the world, or just taking a much needed break to spend more time with friends and family. But despite all the benefits that come from pausing your career, it can become difficult to explain your time away once you begin to search for new positions.
So how do you highlight the positives and use your career gap as a something to help you stand apart from the competition during your job hunt? These tips will help you answer the question you’ve been dreading about your time off.
Have a Purpose to your Time Off
Wouldn’t we all just like to take off work to do absolutely nothing but realistically if you chose to take a career gap, you probably did more with it then sitting watching Friends reruns. Giving purpose to your time off makes it easier to sell when you’re applying for new roles.
Did your time off allow you an opportunity to search for your dream career, travel the world, give you more time with you friends or where you a caregiver. You need to outline the reason behind your career gap, giving your time off more credibility (and if you did spend part of your time away binge watching telly then it might be best to leave that section out.)
In the same way you’d expand on your duties in a position within your CV or during an interview, highlight the experience you gained within your career gap.
Honesty is the Best Policy
I must have stated this a thousand times but lying is never an option in the job search. If your found out, your honesty and integrity will come into question, remove that “if” and replace it with “when” because an employer will be completing their checks.
You want to paint your career gap in the best possible light but that doesn’t mean telling an employer you spent 6 months helping baby animals when you were actually decide what career is right for you. Showcase the positives, demonstrating the skills you obtained during you time away and reflect on what made the overall experience beneficial.
“Tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.”
Use it to Your Advantage
Contemplate on the skills you picked up along the way, or the insight a break from your career gave you, helping you understand what the right position for you is. Look for the take away moments and details these in your CV or discuss them within an interview.
For example, if you took time to travel, highlight how this allowed you to network with new people, explore new cultures or develop your skills such as team work, communication or organisation. Keeping a journal or diary of your career gap might help you bring forward some of these experiences. Ask yourself how did you profited from your career gap?
Highlight the Skills you Obtained
Review the take away from your experiences, look at how you were able to develop your skills and better yourself through take time off the 9-5. Whether you were able to adjust to a better work life balance, enhance your confident through networking with new people or you gained new strengths through the completion of short courses or just pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
When applying for new roles, try to link your experiences to the keywords and requirements in the job description. For example, if they’re looking for a proactive, ambitions or driven individual explain how your passion to try self employment took you away from the 9-5 and your proactive natural helped you grow that business.
Try to Discuss in Person
Are you struggling to find the right words? Picking up the phone and discussing this with the recruiter or hiring manager might be the easier option. Things can get missed when you only have a paragraph to describe those 3, 6 months or even a year away, but talking it over in person will allow you to give more depth.
If you’ve spent several years raising a family, getting back out there and networking could aid you in the transition back into the working world.