Starting Over After A Long Employment Gap

Elizabeth Witbeck

There are many reasons why people take time off from working. Maybe you want to stay at home and raise your children. Maybe you want to go back to school. Some people spend time traveling the world. There are many reasons, all of them personal and completely yours. Whatever the reason, there may be a time when you decide that you want to go back to work.

It is important to learn how to explain the employment gap in your resume. Often, hiring managers will make their own assumptions about your gap. You do not want them thinking it is because you are not able to be hired. Do what you can to make sure that you are in the best position possible to be selected for the job.

Do not assume that an employment gap will go unnoticed by employers. They will read your resume, and they can clearly see when the last time you worked is. It is best to be honest about your employment history.

Earning Experience While Unemployed

Employers want to know that you have stayed current in your industry, even if you were not technically employed by a company. There are many ways in which you can gain experience.

  • You can volunteer in your community, for your church, and for local organizations.
  • You can work part-time, doing work such as writing, computers, cleaning, or anything related to your industry.
  • There are many freelance opportunities available, such as selling clothing or driving passengers in your car.
  • You can also get certifications in your industry or take additional courses in your field. All of this counts as experience and can be placed on a resume.

Be sure to rewrite your resume and dedicate space to all of the experience you have had. When the interviewer asks what you have been up to all this time, you will have plenty to talk about. It’s important to show that you were still productive, even during your employment gap.

Using Objectives Wisely

An objective is one of the first pieces of information on your resume. Written at the very top of the resume, an objective states your purpose for applying to a position. It is a brief paragraph, one or two sentences long. This is a great thing to include in any resume, but especially if you have had an employment gap.

You can write something such as “IT professional with 10+ years experience seeks managerial role at tech company.” An objective statement such as this lets an interviewer see immediately what experience you have and what the purpose of your application is. They are focused on the positive aspects, rather than a gap in your resume.

Keep Things Honest

When the interviewer asks about the employment gap, remember to keep things honest, but also positive. You want to paint a good first impression of yourself. If you are unemployed for reasons that you didn’t necessarily choose – for example, you have a chronic illness, or you were laid off from your last position – try to keep the conversation as positive as possible.

Discuss how since your last job, you have been able to discover better opportunities and learn more skills. Let the interviewer know that while you have enjoyed your past experiences, you are ready to move forward in your career.

Do not act bitter in any way towards the situation that has brought you to be unemployed. If you go into an interview talking about how horrible the job market is, and how you have been unable to secure a job, you are not going to impress any hiring managers.

Be honest about the employment gap. If you spent the time at home raising your children, or taking care of a sick family member, or even taking time off from working in order to pursue your hobbies or travel or volunteer, those are all perfectly fine things to mention during the interview.

The interview is a time for an employer to get to know you better, and being honest about these aspects of your life will help them understand you and what you can contribute to the team.

Keep Going!

Many people underestimate the work that goes into the job hunting process. It may take a lot longer than you expected to find a job. Job hunting requires sending out job applications and going on interviews.

You will inevitably be rejected by companies, and then have to pick yourself up and find the courage to send out more job application. You may spend several months looking for jobs before you are offered a position.

Job hunting is hard work, and it is important to remain optimistic during the process. Use this time to volunteer, take on freelance or part-time jobs, earn certifications in your field, enroll in more courses, and network with colleagues.

Job hunting can be difficult, but simply because you have had some time off from work does not mean you will not find work again. These tips are a good guide on how you can find that new position and enter the workforce.

About The Author

Elizabeth Witbeck

Elizabeth Witbeck works as a college consultant and educational entrepreneur. She launched the first business in the United States that sends care packages to first generation college students, and also helps prospective college students on their applications. Her interests include education, poverty, and working with youth.

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