No matter how hardworking and responsible an employee you are, it is quite possible that you might find yourself out of job for a significant period of time at some point in your life, especially in the era of this global economic recession, which is wiping out jobs at an alarming pace, with tens of thousands of new layoffs by some of the biggest names in business. However, the trick is to keep this period from hurting your long-term professional career. A gap in job history is one of the things that causes the most stress and fear in the hearts and minds of the job seeker. This tactic is called managing the gap in your professional career in case of a layoff.
People are much concerned about getting back in the workforce after a gap in their employment. Especially when one considers the bad experiences some employers have had when they take a chance on people with a gap in their employment history. Additionally, the job market appears to have well-qualified candidates for most positions, a majority of which have a smooth career history. So the question that arises is that how will your resume, with a six months, a year, or even a couple of years employment gap, stand up against those who have been scoring career achievements and accomplishments for the same time period?
Staying Employable During an Employment Gap
It is wrong, rather absurd to say that returning to employment, with your resume showing gap in your career, is hopeless. ROZEE Team suggests some useful tips and activities which will help you stay employable and ready for a job while you are unemployed.
A Contract Or Assignment As A Job Substitute
Find a contract, a project or consulting assignment, related to your professional field, as a supplement for your job. Most of the time, employees who are in the state of unemployment, supplement their knowledge and income by taking a contracts and projects. You can also start consultation services within your area of expertise. This is a wise strategy to keep yourself professionally involved in your career. Freelancing is also a good source of keeping in-touch with your profession. If you work in marketing, for example, perhaps you can do freelance work on brochures, the website or press releases. If you work in Human Resources, you may contract to update the employee handbook annually or teach a class periodically. This is the easiest way to stay grounded in the workplace during an extended leave.
Build And Maintain Career Networking
The importance of career networking should never be underestimated. Career experts have long stressed the significance of professional networking for career growth. It often happens that when employers are hiring new staff, their first inclination is typically towards employee referrals. Through networking, we can learn about job opportunities particularly those we would not have had access to, otherwise. It is up to you to maintain relationships with people who will remember your talents, when you decide to return to a full-time employment.
Keep Your Skills Up-To-Date
It is important to keep your technical and professional skills updated. Professional fields such as banking, information technology, securities and financial planning keep changing trends rapidly. Take technical training classes, attend conferences and seminars, participate in online learning and read to stay current in your field. Even refresher class will help you out in most fields when you decide to return to work after a gap. Keeping abreast of your field every year is the best way to stay employable.
Active Participation in Professional Associations
Most career fields have professional associations that sponsor meetings, conferences, committees, training sessions and more for its members. Maintain an active participation in your related association by attending meetings, writing for the newsletter and attending national conferences. This is also an effective way of communicating and interacting with other members of the association to expand your network at the same time.
Indulge Yourself In Volunteer Work
Volunteer for the activities that most closely match your career field and interests. Challenging volunteer work can help to fill the gaps in your resume whether you return to your original career or create a career change in the future. Decide which kind of volunteer work will be the most strategic for your long-term goals. Do think about how the volunteer work will appear on your resume and give much emphasis on contributing in volunteer work related to your future employment plans.
Explore New Talents
If you are unemployed and unable to find a good job in your previous career, maybe it is time to try something new. A time away from work is perfect for pursuing career options and learning more about yourself and your interests. You can invest your free time exploring a new talent and preparing yourself for a new career path.
Although, a gap on a resume glares out at the recruiter or hiring manager, however, the key point to remember is not to let this gap in employment hurt you during your job search. There is great number of people who have walked back into a job (even an executive job), developed their dream career or created a career change, following unemployment. Employment gap makes all these things a bit harder, but certainly not impossible. It’s much better to spend that time preparing to be employable than to hit the job market absolutely blank after years at home. You will be better prepared if you heed these tips.
If you have spent your employment gap doing freelance work, consulting, learning new skills or mentoring, do list that experience in your resume with the name of the organization, job functions and dates. In other words, treat it as a regular job in your resume. It is also imperative that you maintain your reputation, among your friends and associates, as an educated professional who has chosen to take time away from his/her career. Regardless of the fact that your resume contains employment gap, always maintain a positive and optimistic attitude, and be sure to let the hiring manager know that you are excited and ready to return to work.