From time to time, some people will be out of the workforce for a certain period. Commonly this may be due to carer’s leave, travel, unemployment, education, illness or imprisonment. Many see these employment gaps as a huge disadvantage, resulting in lack of confidence and motivation when job hunting. career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane, career counselling brisbane, brisbane career counselling, brisbane career coach. 

The reality is that most employment breaks cannot be helped. Babies or elderly parents need to be cared for, sickness occurs, bad fortune befalls….life happens. Life events such as these don’t need to affect your employability. When it comes down to it, how you present the information is really the most important part. Below I’ve provided some tips on how to explain gaps in your employment.  career counselling, career coach.

Don’t lie. Just don’t do it.  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane, career counselling brisbane

Giving false information on your résumé or in a job interview is a bad idea. It’s not going to help your case so just forget about it. This is especially true if background checks will be done prior to employment. The recruiter will respect you for telling the truth and you won’t be waiting for the day when it all unravels…

Use your time out of the workforce wisely  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane, career counselling brisbane.

If you must be out of the workforce for an extended period of time, don’t use it as an excuse to cease professional development. There are so many things you can do while on an employment break that will enhance your career or employability. Some suggestions include:

  • Short online courses like MOOCs (many Australian universities have caught up to their American counterparts and now offer FREE short courses to everyone!), Lynda.com or UDEMY
  • Postgraduate study such as a Graduate Certificate
  • Teach English whilst travelling
  • Volunteer work
  • Start a part time home-based business or monetised blog
  • Learn a new language
  • Learn a new skill
  • Nurture your professional networks and continue to attend meetings if possible
  • Refresh your job searching tools such as your résumé, cover letter and LinkedIn profile

Remain connected to your employer *This worked well for me  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane.

If you plan to return to your previous job after your employment break, it’s important to maintain your relationship with your manager or the organisation. This ensures that you stay up-to-date on the happenings of the industry/organisation (and your manager remembers to keep you in the loop!).

You will also lessen the difficulties often experienced when transitioning back into the workforce. Your expectations and knowledge of the job when you return will be sound, and you demonstrate your willingness to return and commitment to your role.  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane, career counselling brisbane, brisbane career counselling, brisbane career coach, career coaching, career advisor, career advice.

Get creative with your résumé  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane, career counselling brisbane

There’s no rule that says résumés must be in reverse chronological order (it’s really more of a guideline!). Try listing your employment history by Relevant Experience and Other Employment History.

If there is a short gap, this can simply be covered by defining the employment period in years, not years and months i.e. 2009 – 2010 rather than September 2009 – January 2010.  Also try focusing your résumé on your education and key skills rather than your employment history.

Changing the layout of your résumé can have a significant impact on how the reader absorbs the information and what catches the recruiter’s eyes.  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane,

Remain positive and stand by your employment break  career counselling, career coach, career coach brisbane

I know, this is easier said than done. The fact of the matter is that you’ve had time out of the workforce and nothing is going to change that. It is far better to accept the turn your life has taken and grow from the experience, than to be resentful. Not only will this be reflected in your attitude in job interviews, but it’s also better for your health and wellbeing.

If your employment break was made by choice (perhaps for travel or to start a family), stand by that choice and don’t make any apologies for it. There are more things to life than work (yes, I said it!) and employers should respect that their workers are individuals with lives outside of the workplace.

Do you have any tips to share? I invite you to leave a comment below. If you need assistance to explain and manage gaps in employment career counselling can help. Contact our career coach Danielle Ward today!

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