“I was made redundant quite suddenly and it took me over three months to get offered another job. Unfortunately, by the time the employer wanted me to start, I ended up with a six month gap on my CV. I want to move my career forward again now but I’m worried about how this looks if apply for other jobs. What can I do?”
Marc was very concerned about this issue and it’s one that gets raised regularly where people have had a break between positions, chosen or otherwise, or had a gap after university and before work.
So what can you do?
Stop worrying about it, is the first thing. Sure, if you’ve taken a gap year and it ended up being fourteen years long then you do have a problem. Otherwise, breaks between jobs and career breaks are now common.
Being upfront about any such gaps is the next positive step. I’m not suggesting you take out national advertising space and tell the world, but don’t try to bury it secretly. A good interviewer will identify gaps and it looks as though you do have something to hide if they’re masked.
Thirdly, think about what you did or learned during that period. “I sat and watched day-time TV for six months” wouldn’t do you any favours but I’d be willing to bet that’s not what you did anyway. Even if all you did was apply for other jobs then you no doubt developed your written and verbal communication skills, your search and research skills, your online skills, etc. etc. Translate the negative into a series of positives.
Breaks can occur for countless reasons, none of which are necessarily your fault. Share prices fall, bosses change, customers go away, priorities change – the list is endless. It happens. Employers are more concerned that you haven’t had an unidentified spell in prison than they are about whether everything in your life went perfectly or not.
On the grounds that ‘it’s the shit that makes you stronger’, you’re less valuable as an employee if you’ve never met an unplanned challenge in your life.
What if it was your fault? Perhaps you made a mistake, you didn’t hit your targets or you did something bad? The important thing is to show that you’ve recognised your responsibility for the situation, learned from it, adapted and moved forward.
If you think about it, supervisors and managers make decisions all day every day. Do you imagine for one moment that every one of those decisions was the correct one? Simplistically, if they get it right more often than not, things are moving ahead and they get rewarded accordingly.
Think about your own job history and careers in the same way. Concentrate on what you’ve achieved and worry less about what you haven’t or what went wrong.
I hope that helps. Do email me if you have a more specific problem that isn’t covered here and I’ll do my best to answer. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org