Career gaps are becoming increasingly popular after the pandemic. A LinkedIn survey reveals that 62% of employees have a career break. Contrary to popular belief, a career gap does not have a negative impact on your resume, and a successful career comeback is always possible if you have an excellent strategy to clear the interview.
In this blog, we will discuss the following:
- How do I Address a Career Gap in My Resume?
- What Strategies Can I Use to Explain a Career Gap During an Interview?
- How Can I Highlight My Skills and Strengths Despite a Career Gap?
- Are There Specific Resume Formats or Layouts That Work Well for Managing Career Gaps?
- How Can I Leverage My Experience During the Career Gap to Enhance My Resume and Interview Performance?
How do I Address a Career Gap in My Resume?
Let’s see the most popular reasons for a career gap in resumes and specific examples of how to address these factors.
1. Higher Education/Professional Development
“While I gained significant practical experience in my previous job, I wanted to take on more challenging roles. A one-year career gap allowed me to focus solely on my professional development by pursuing a higher degree in XYZ. It helped me gain [insert name of particular skills], which align with the particular role.”
“I took some time off earlier this year to focus on my health as I was suffering from XYZ. The gap offered me the much-needed time to recover and reassess my career goals. Now, I am recharged and dedicated to taking on new challenges.”
3. Maternity/Paternity Break
“A career break was important for me to take care of my child and support my partner. During the gap, I continued to engage with my professional network and stay up-to-date with the latest industry happenings. I have also attended relevant online conferences to brush up my knowledge. Now, I am excited to rejoin the workforce and contribute toward the organization’s growth.”
“I took a five-month break because I was a full-time caregiver for a family member. However, I ensured my skill development by pursuing an online course in XYZ. The experience has improved my interpersonal skills by teaching me resilience, empathy, and the ability to manage complex situations, which, it seems to me, are some of the most necessary skills for this role.”
“I took a sabbatical three months ago to focus on my personal interests, recharge, and gain fresh perspectives. During the break, I focused on learning XYZ skills, which makes me an ideal candidate for this role. Moreover, I was in constant touch with my peers and mentors to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends. This break has significantly contributed to my personal and professional achievement, and I am excited to rejoin the workforce.”
“Last year, I took a bold step and started my own venture. Even though it did not turn out to be successful because of a lack of funds, it was a great learning experience as it improved my leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. I also gained in-depth knowledge of the particular challenges in the industry. My entrepreneurial perspective will benefit this role as I can contribute to understanding the customer’s pain points, and developing unique solutions.”
What Strategies Can I Use to Explain a Career Gap During an Interview?
Explaining a career break can be daunting, especially if it is because of a personal reason. The following are a few strategies to address it:
1. A Positive Approach
One of the most crucial strategies to deal with a career gap during an interview is to be positive and focus on your strengths. It is best to own the career gap and take accountability. You can emphasize its need for your personal or professional growth.
2. Be Upfront
Many professionals try to hide their career gap by adding false information on their resume or staying silent. It can severely impact your reputation and career. Be upfront about your break and inform the recruiter about the career gap during the initial conversation. The more confident you are, the easier it is to convince an interviewer and secure the job. You can use LinkedIn’s “career break” feature to inform potential recruiters about your career gap.
3. Don’t Let the Career Gap be the Topic of Discussion
Remember that interviews are supposed to be a mutual discussion. Instead of giving open-ended answers to the interviewer, explain the context of your career gap as quickly as possible and then steer the conversation toward your skills and strengths, iterating on how you are an ideal candidate for the role.
4. Build a Career Narrative
You should build a career narrative to explain the career gap positively. Here is the structure you can follow:
- Start with a brief overview of your professional journey and highlight various career milestones
- Explain in the shortest manner possible the reason for your career gap
- Highlight your learnings and experience
- Connect them to the particular role
Also, briefly explain your experiences during a career gap, the challenges faced, how you overcame them, and the skills learned—for example, time management and critical thinking.
To sum up, answer career gap questions strategically by highlighting learnings and demonstrating eagerness and readiness to rejoin the workforce.
How Can I Highlight My Skills and Strengths Despite a Career Gap?
Some of the main reasons recruiters are wary of hiring professionals with a career gap on their resume are unreliability, skill gap, and higher training costs. The best way to overcome a career break is to address these possible concerns by highlighting your skills. Here are five effective ways to do it:
1. Mention Online Courses/Certifications
Adding online courses or certifications is one of the best ways to address a career gap. Specify the particular skills or experience you attained from the course and how they offer a competitive edge.
2. Demonstrate Any Project/Research Work
Showcasing relevant research papers or volunteer projects is an excellent way to highlight skills while explaining a career gap in an interview. It also allows the recruiter to understand your commitment to your career.
3. Highlight How You Have Followed Industry Trends
The rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies has led to a dynamic workforce. Organizations are mainly looking for informed professionals who can help navigate industry challenges and grow. You can research the latest industry happenings, how it has impacted the particular organization, and how you can contribute to its growth.
4. Explain Your Achievements From the Previous Role
Highlighting past professional achievements can showcase skills and capabilities while addressing a career gap. Mention achievements relevant to the particular role you have applied for because they help demonstrate transferable skills. It helps explain your work ethic and potential.
5. Create a Portfolio
Portfolios are more effective nowadays for clearing an interview in comparison to a resume. Include work samples, highlight career achievements, and add testimonials from previous clients or recommendations by your previous managers/colleagues. A career portfolio not only helps showcase skills but also helps gain trust and credibility, thus increasing the chances of getting hired.
Are There Specific Resume Formats or Layouts That Work Well for Managing Career Gaps?
Yes, a hybrid or a functional resume is a popular format that works well for professionals with a career gap or change. It highlights previous functions/roles and the impact you created instead of listing previous job experiences chronologically. This format shifts the focus from the career gap to your skills and professional achievements. A functional resume comprises all the details included in a traditional resume, such as contact details, professional summary, work history, and education. Instead of explaining each work experience in detail, the resume describes different skills. Here is an example of a functional resume.
Source: Resume Genius
How Can I Leverage My Experience During the Career Gap to Enhance My Resume and Interview Performance?
A career gap is no longer considered a taboo or setback. What matters is your skills and professional experience and how well you can demonstrate that in an interview. Here is how to leverage the experience for an effective career comeback:
- Emphasize skill development and how those skills align with the company’s vision and role
- Talk about how a break helped you reassess your long-term goals and what further steps you have taken to advance your career. This showcases motivation for the new role
- Utilize a career gap to build a professional network, seek guidance, learn soft skills, and prepare for the interview
With Emeritus’ online courses, you can learn the latest skills and industry trends to enhance your CV and make a strong career comeback. These courses, taught by industry experts, help you learn relevant insights and gain practical exposure to advance your career.
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