Resume Gaps: Going Back to Work After an Extended Break
Do you have a gap in your resume? Maybe you took time off to start a family, to deal with medical issues, or to go back to school. Perhaps your industry dried up. Or maybe you lost your job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the reason, unless you retire or win the lottery, you’re eventually going to have to return to the workforce. So how do you do that?
Decide what comes next
Whatever the reason you left the workforce, you’ll need to decide what you want to do when you’re ready to go back to work. Many people find that their break from the workforce is a great time to shift their focus, moving from one area of expertise, such as marketing, to another, such as IT. Other people may choose to use this time to relocate.
Before you start to look for work, have an honest conversation with yourself and your significant other. How have your goals changed? Do you want to go back to what you did before your break, or do you want a change? Can you still travel for work? Are you still able to work full-time?
Revisit your resume and cover letter
When you’re ready to go back to work, you may need to re-write your resume. If you’ve had a gap, a chronological resume may not be the best way to present yourself to future employers. Consider listing your skills first, before your job experience, especially if you have some of the skills listed in the job posting you’re responding to. By opening with your strengths, you’ll put the focus on your abilities rather than a job gap.
While you’re updating your resume, be sure to update your cover letter. Like your resume, your cover letter should open with your strengths rather than your job gap, although your cover letter is a great place to offer information about your situation. You don’t need to go into a long explanation of why you took a break from the workforce. Just provide a brief explanation of why you took an extended absence. and why you would be a good fit as an employee.
Work your Network
When you’re ready to return to the workforce, let everybody in your network know. Your friends, colleagues, and former co-workers are probably aware of the fact that you stepped away from the workforce. Now it’s time to let everybody know that you’re ready to go back to work.
Employers love referrals. Referrals often result in faster, less expensive hires. Employees who are hired from referrals tend to stay with the company longer. They’re also more likely to become top performers.
Getting referred to a company may not be a guarantee that you’ll get hired, but it can be a foot in the door at a time when you need it.
Think Outside the Box
If you’re ready to go back to work but you’re finding it difficult to find the right job, don’t be afraid to take a temporary job. Temps get paid, of course, which is the point of working, but there are a lot of other benefits, too. You’ll get the chance to experience a new company and a new industry and decide for yourself what you want and what you don’t want. Having a job will help you get back into the rhythm of working. It will also help you with your resume gap. In addition, you’ll also have the chance to grow your professional network, not just with the client and your co-workers, but with recruiters, people who often hear about new positions before they’re posted, and who can provide you valuable direction.
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