Successfully Returning to Work After a Gap in Employment
It’s becoming more common for employees to return to work to the workforce after employment gaps. Whether these lapses are due to starting or raising a family, going to school, taking care of a loved one, or even an early retirement that didn’t pan out, you can explain them to potential employers. Therefore, these gaps in your resume won’t hinder you from returning to the workforce.
Studies show that employers ask 11.3% of applicants with no career gaps on their resume to interview. For applicants with two-year gaps in their resumes, that rate drops less than 2 percentage points to 9.8%.
The unemployment rate is reaching all-time lows in some states and the national rate is the lowest it’s been in fifty years. Due to this, the tides are turning in favor of job seekers. Having a gap in your resume is no longer a deal-breaker. But to ensure this, you need to know how to sell it. In the interview, convince the employer of the benefits of your employment gap.
Explaining Your Work History
Own your gap in employment. Don’t hide from it or refuse to bring it up in an interview until the interviewer asks about it. Consider even mentioning your gap on your resume. Describe what you did during your gap. List the skills you learned and how you can transfer them into a new career.
When discussing your gap, highlight what you accomplished and learned. Examples of things to highlight are:
- Certifications or licenses you obtained
- Courses you completed
- Volunteer experience you gained
- Leadership roles you took on
- Software programs you learned
There’s an endless list of things that can be highlighted from time off of work. Did you go traveling and learn more about other cultures? Say that, but express it in a way that translates into a working skill. This could be learning how to interact with and appreciate other cultures. Did you stay at home and raise your children? Discuss the daily tasks you did to maintain your household. Examples of these are budgeting, scheduling, planning events, and communicating well.
Your time taken off work wasn’t time wasted. However, it’s up to you to express that to potential employers. In other words, let them know what you’ve gained from your time off of work and how you’ll translate that into your next career.
Successfully Returning to the Workforce
Returning to the workforce after a gap in employment is a realistic goal. You can begin a second career years later or continue your earlier career after a break. Employers are beginning to be more understanding of candidates’ varied timelines. But only if you can explain what you accomplished in your time off.
Explaining your gap in employment is a crucial step to attaining your next job. But be sure to never apologize during an interview for this gap. You should never present that time off as a negative or imply that you made the wrong decision. Instead, be honest and forthright. The right employer will see the value in your decision.
- Glenwood, Michael. “You Can Overcome a Long Gap in Your Resume.” The Wall Street Journal, 14 October 2019.
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