The Best Ways to Tackle a Career Gap
- Parents Only
By: Jody Moses, ellaslist
The Holidays are over. Daycare spots are being confirmed and the kids have gone back to school. It’s that time of the year when lots of parents are looking to return to work. But many mums have been out of the job-world for years, dedicating their time to looking after their family. The thought of getting back out there, polishing a CV, going for interviews, making yourself presentable can be paralysing, especially after a long career gap.
Like many mums, I made the decision to take a break from a 17-year career to dedicate myself to being a mum. It was a huge step, after spending almost two decades forging a name for myself in a tough industry. And pretty daunting, after such intense dedication to a singular goal.
I don’t regret leaving my job. The time with my babies was precious and priceless and worth every sacrifice. But I must admit, trying to get back into regular employment was initially challenging (and depressing). I had to convince myself that I still ‘had what it takes’ and learn to spin my career break in a way that made me look great!
So, here’s what I learnt on the way…
1. Be Confident & Highlight The Positives
While career gaps have become an increasingly common phenomenon, addressing this gap on your resume can be daunting. Whatever the reason you decided to take a break from your career, there are always positives you can draw on to reference.
Chairperson of FlexCareers, Rhonda Brighton-Hall says ‘all of these breaks in careers, are actually just life momentarily taking precedence over career. They all add something really cool to who we are, what we know, and what we can do.’
Don’t ever feel that a career gap is a black mark against your name. Instead, try and use it to your advantage. Highlight your skills and experiences you have gained that may be relevant to your industry.
Remember that a great resume tells a story of who you are professionally, and the value you bring with your experience. So Focus on creating a really powerful introductory paragraph or summary at the start.
2. Invest In Your Personal Branding
Personal Branding expert Irene McConnell from Arielle Careers explains ‘Your personal branding documents – your cover letter, LinkedIn profile and resume are the window to your professional soul.’
These are particularly important if you’re returning to work after a long career break. The way you choose to ‘brand’ yourself is important as this is an opportunity to demonstrate your value and highlight the diversity of experience you’ve gained during your break.
Consider how you have spent your time and use any activities you have been involved in to your personal advantage. Perhaps you were on the P & C Committee at your children’s school, or part of the fundraising team, or have done some short courses, or volunteer work? Make sure you don’t forget about these.
3. Network It Baby!
This is an especially important step for those with a longer career gap. Building, nurturing and leveraging your network can give you access to opportunities that aren’t yet publically available.
Yes, you can still find a job online or in the paper, but those who know how to network, will have the upper hand. This means getting the word out there that you’re looking for work and the type of skills you have.
Whenever you can, work your availability into a conversation. You never know who you might meet or connect with.
The most important point of networking is sponsorship. You need people to talk about you, and think about you when a great role or a work opportunity comes up.
Join the FlexCareers Community for crucial tips and to help you get up to speed with what is happening in the job-world, especially for parents looking for flexible work
4. Show That You’ve Stayed Up-To-Date
According to FlexCareers, being out of the workforce does not have to mean that you are out of the loop with what is happening in your industry, or a new industry you may be interested in pursuing.
When possible, attend industry events and conferences, read industry publications and network with other professionals to find out about current trends.
Brush up on your skills. This could mean taking a relevant course or two at your local college or online or joining an agency and taking on some part-time work.
Networking also really helps here. Stay close to people who are up to date. Listen to what’s going on, join relevant FaceBook groups and follow LinkedIn posts.
5. Prepare Well For Interviews
When you are confident with the correct way to address employment gaps on your resume, you’ll be more comfortable when a question comes up during an interview.
Don’t try to avoid the question. Deal with it. Keep your answer short, to the point, and positive. Let the employer know that you are passionate about your profession and have been focusing your search on roles that you can add value to.
Talk about your background and experience and let the employer know what sets you apart from the competition.
6. Don’t Settle
Look at returning to work as an opportunity to reassess both your personal and professional needs.
Your professional interests may have changed, so may have your personal preferences for the work you want to do, the hours you want, or even where you physically want to work.
Keep in mind that a short job stint on your resume looks worse than a career gap, so make sure you don’t accept a job that you know won’t make you happy.
7. Find a Supportive Company
You may not want to return to work on a full-time basis. Or you may be looking for flexible hours so you can still do school drop-off’s and pick-up’s That’s OK!
There are companies out there who recognise the value of employing parents in a part-time and flexible capacity. Many of them aren’t scared off by a career gap and are open-minded and accommodating.
We love that FlexCareers gives talented women the opportunity to return to work without sacrificing their lifestyle and commitments. They connect job-seekers with progressive employers offering flexible work. Sign-Up Now for FREE.
FlexCareers connects women with Australia’s most progressive employers offering flexible hours, attractive pay and career advancement. Join our growing community and SIGN UP NOW to get access to hundreds of jobs that allow you to have a family and a career. You can have it all.