Career gaps on a resume can raise a host of questions. Many of today’s job seekers find themselves needing to explain lapses in employment, particularly due to recent pandemic-induced layoffs. As millions of people lost their jobs, sometimes overnight, many not only wondered how long it would take to find gainful employment but also how they’d explain these career gaps to the next potential hiring manager.
But even if a pandemic wouldn’t have swept through our world, career gaps happen.
There are times a job isn’t the right fit, or a business may need to quickly pivot to stay alive. Sometimes this means pruning staff or cutting a department altogether. There are times family matters take us by surprise. Which can mean uprooting from a place we once called home to live closer to the family members who need us. Sometimes, it means taking time away from work to raise a family of one’s own or work through serious health issues.
Jill Jassmann-Sharlock is an IMPACT Group Global Research and Projects Team Lead who focuses on the unique information needs of global transferees. She also serves as IMPACT Group’s Global myIMPACT Specialist, managing content for our global job search and career portal.
“While life does get in the way of our plans, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to throw up a white flag,” says Jill. “Nor do career gaps indicate a red flag either.”
The point is, don’t take career setbacks personally. It doesn’t reflect poorly on your talents, character, or ideas. Jill has some recommendations you can do during career gaps to help you cultivate some meaningful experiences and make it easier to find a job when you do return to the workforce.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people while learning a new skill and expanding your network. Plus, volunteering can give you a new sense of purpose. Spend time each week volunteering at a non-profit organization.
Another option is working as an intern for an organization. This is a great way to discover new talents and learn about a new industry. You could potentially get offered a full-time, paid position for the company.
3. Start your own company
If you’re having a tough time finding work, why not consider starting your own company? Although it can be a challenge to start a business, a potential employer will look favorably on your drive and determination. And even better – if your company succeeds, you won’t need to worry about finding a new job!
Many employers appreciate employees with an understanding of different cultures, languages, or countries. If you find yourself without a job yet have some funds, novel use of a career gap could be to take time to travel to another country. This gives you the chance to improve your foreign language skills which will make you more marketable to potential employers.
5. Go back to school
Some people use career gaps as an opportunity to go back to school to pursue a new degree or certificate. Or at the very least, take some industry-related courses. Well-learned candidates are typically more appealing to employers.
6. Hire yourself for contract work
If going back to work isn’t feasible, why not consider doing contract work? Acting as a consultant for individuals or companies needing temporary help is a great way to make money, gain work experience, create valuable contacts, and prevent career gaps.
When you are ready to write or update your CV/resume, your career coach can assist you in navigating those conversations around career gaps, turning what was once a challenging situation into one of tremendous growth.
Check out some related advice. CEO Lauren Herring provides insight to ensure you lead the best job search – without letting your emotions take over. Read more here.