Employment gaps

With the competition becoming tougher by the day, ever increasing work hours, professionals are left with very little or practically no time to think about anything beyond their cubicle. So what does one do to overcome the inevitable fatigue and break the monotony? Yes, take a break.

Time taken off work could either be by choice or circumstances. But justifying it is important. Employment gaps are seeing a rise in today’s corporate scenario; the reasons varying from domestic responsibilities to work fatigue. Resuming career after an extended break leads to employment gaps. The fact that the market is full of qualified candidates backed by career accomplishments can be a cause for concern among candidates who plan to return to the corporate world after a break. Nowadays employers are open to gaps and are treating such candidates at par with other aspirants. This is welcome change to the past where gaps were considered taboos.

But this does not mean that everything will be a cakewalk; of course one has to overcome employment gap/s. Here’s a list of things you could keep in mind during an extended stay at home to keep yourself prepared for the challenges you are likely to face when you decide to bounce back:

Talk to your employer about part-time / consulting work / periodic assignments you can do during the time you plan to work less. Work part time.

Doing freelance assignments gives you flexible hours of work, which can accommodate your priorities. For instance, a marketing professional can work on product brochures; a HR professional can impart training programs etc.

Build a network by developing and maintaining a network of professionals, mentors, friends and associates who will remember your talents when you decide to return to full time employment.

Join professional associations as most career fields have professionals associations that conduct meetings, training programs, etc. Be active by attending these meetings, writing for the newsletters, volunteering for various activities that most closely match your career field and interests.

A small time business can be developed either in your own field or in a different field subject to your interest and skills. For e.g. making candles, operating a crèche, painting, organizing events/exhibitions, making home treats etc.

Identify organizations that can recruit you for less working hours to substitute full time employees who are on leave or away on projects or are having a overload of work. This will keep you updated with latest industry. In short we are suggesting Job sharing.

Irrespective of which field you belong to, there are always new developments happening For example, consider a software engineer finding a new position after two years with his old skills set. Keep yourself abreast with such developments by taking up a course, attending seminars registering for online learning, etc. The fact is that employment can be used to enhance skill levels which in fact increase employability. This will help in acquiring new skills.

Plan career change and one can pursue new career options and the time away from work is perfect as he or she will be able to invest that time to earn a required degree, and/or start home based business to acquire skills needed for the new career.

These activities aid in filling gaps in your resume when you return. However, only utilizing the break in an effective way cannot win you a job. The winning strategy is presenting it in an appropriate way on your resume. Here are guidelines:

Covering the gaps:

* Begin your resume with a career summary highlighting your skills, experience and achievements.
* Don’t specify exact work dates, use a year-to-year format
* Maintain a uniform font for the dates, company name and designation. Do not lie any dates. Employers verify facts about the candidates past employments. And even employment gaps if any before they recruit.
* Highlight the experience you have gained by freelancing or through part time work.
In case the purpose of the break was education, do not forget to highlight the course pursued and its duration.
If you’re confident then subtly explain an employment gap in the cover letter and then elaborate further during the interview.

The best way to explain employment gaps is to prepare your answers. Be honest about the break and explain what you did during that period Whatever the reason be, have confidence in your abilities, and showcase yours talents – the employment gap will seem insignificant.

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