A gap, in career, falls right behind “career change” as far as career shockers are concerned. Why this? Why now? Why at all?
Though such a circumstance can feature at any point, be it at the college level, or through various stages of ones’ career, the apprehension of its consequences is still quite rampant. There is a reason why 70% women fear, taking career breaks, according to a study conducted by the London Business School. And this fear is not really unsubstantiated.
In the UK alone, upwards of 50,000 women reported to have been forced out of work for taking career breaks for maternity, according to research from their Labour party.
Though many corporations are warming up to the idea of letting their long-standing employees take a break in the form of an approved sabbatical, career gaps are still looked upon with a stink-eye.
So, for all those individuals who end up taking career gaps, either voluntary or forced, the journey to get back into the workforce is marked by strategizing their comeback – How to sell your career gap story to your future employers?
Read How to get back to work after a career break?
Whether it is maternity, relocation, family reasons, or any other extraneous circumstances, career gaps, however, present a unique opportunity for individuals to pursue an alternative interest afforded by the excess of time.
Instead of making the discontinuity burn a hole in your resume, you can approach the gap with a distinction making goal that can impress a favorable opinion on your future employers. In this article, we will discuss some of those options to fill the gap, and embellish your resume in the process.
What to do during a career break to improve your resume?
The Master of XYZ
Did you get a job right out of undergrad, imbibing yourself in the real world like a pro? You probably did, ‘coz it seemed like the obvious choice at the time. But then Vicky, with an MS degree, joined right out of school and two grades higher than you managed to square away in your ten years at work. Seemed unfair but that’s how a lot of organizations roll.
Higher education, and advanced qualifications, aid in carrying the extra weight of apparent superiority that sometimes even work experience cannot replace.
So, why not turn an inopportune career-gap into an opportunity for pursuing a higher degree? It could be either another set of letters, for your resume, in your existing field, or a chance to explore a parallel field with far more gusto than you could have afforded with a 9 to 5 schedule.
The education world has opened up to a variety of modes of degrees, including online degrees, if you cannot manage a traditional class format. This is especially useful for individuals whose career-gap is prompted by a need, to stay home, for maternity, or familial reasons.
You can also explore a multitude of specializations, and certifications, to help you get an edge in a skill, needed in the industry.
Here’s your chance to twist the GAP into a GPA – a clever play of letters to go back to work with a makeover.
Read The advantages, and disadvantages, of an Online degree and What is the right age for an MS?
Contract or Freelance Work – The theke walah job
Here’s your perfect chance to be your own boss and dictate your own terms. Are you an IT worker diving into your hiatus? How about exploring the possibility of taking on freelance programming gigs? You can contact your existing job contacts, or even recruiters to find short-job contracts that will keep you busy and productive. Or even better, design your own crazy apps – The Kaddoo Squash Saga!
Take up teaching, collaborate with bigger companies to do contract work, or even reach out to a smart buddy to think up innovative plans for a start-up. It seems that the garage provides the perfect place for storing junk, parking cars, and forming multi-billion dollar ideas! We hear that Jobs and Wozniak did wonders in theirs’s.
Read What is the best age to start your own business?
Brand Development – Share it and they will care
Your job would have provided you knowledge to build a certain level of expertise in a particular area. This laid-back period is a good time to deepen your understanding and create a platform to share your gyaan to a particular niche of people who will appreciate your experienced wisdom.
You should hunt the web to look into options to image building and developing a brand.The most common means being blogging, and contributing, through your subject matter expertise. You can also explore public speaking in interested communities. Seminars, or colloquiums, have the potential to add a lot of stars to your credibility.
So, if you think you have knowledge to share, share it with your brand logo. Chances are that by the time you return back to work, you may have a following within your future employers!
Read Build, improve, or change your career via blogging. And here’s our platform, with testimonials, on how Careerizma has been playing a role in self branding.
Volunteer – For the love of work
Can you show a meaningful involvement in the period you spent away from clocking in? Employers share quite a pleasing overview of individuals who have used their time away from work in some form of within-the-field voluntary occupation.
However, if you prefer to take a break from the usual rigmarole offered by your subject area of expertise, and want to perform a greater good, social volunteering is also a great way to get a favorable response later.
And in the instance, you are using this gap to change gears in your career, some form of job experience, even if unpaid, can serve you good. Especially, to show that you are dedicated enough to carry on even if there is no one to show you the money.
Read Checklist for a career change after 40 and other career change stories. Also scour our archives for NGO and Non-Profit careers and individual experiences.
Expand your Network – Frandship Channeling
Why lose touch with the movers & shakers, or even the light stirrers, if you have simply decided to take a break? Though it is not a direct skill to reflect on your resume – Befriended 16 CEOs in three months. 57 more pending…sustaining a good networking channel ensures that you pick up on updates, and opportunities, circulating the industry. The right contacts can even lead you to independent work possibilities, that we talked about.
Read Where, how and with whom to network: Professional networking tips
Your career gap story may be prompted by either a desire to slow-down or unpropitious circumstances compelling you to make a potentially career stalling move. However, as some wise man once said C’est la vie. Look upon this as an occasion to grow despite what la vie dumped on you. Just make lemonade…
Further reading for MBA hopefuls, who are looking to find the most favorable way to tell their career gap story.
- How to handle gaps in your education and career in MBA essays?
- MBA applications: FAQ regarding voluntary career breaks