Being laid off, having a child, or filing bankruptcy are just some of the reasons for having  a gap on your resume

When I had my interview with Google, that was, in fact, the first question that they asked. “ We see that you graduated xyz time from a master’s degree program and between your job and studies, there is almost a 2-year gap. Is there a reason why you couldn’t get a position?”. And I said “Yes! I needed to arrange my work permit and it took that long for them to process my papers”. So my answer was different than any other candidate.

At LinkedIn, whenever we host a career related event, there is always a question about this gap issue. Whether it’s  a mom who had a baby and had to stop working for couple years or a hardworking professional who lost their job due to a failed startup experience.

Here are some tips and explanations that you can use to clarify a gap in your career;

Don’t lie:

This is the most important point that you should be aware of. Lying will get you nowhere. It might sound obvious, but you would be in shock at the number of people who lie because they feel embarrassed, to tell the truth.

You don’t have to tell every single detail of the gap, but at least the reason should be clear. The recruiter and hiring manager will appreciate honestly over anything. Otherwise, who wants to work with a liar and a fraud?

Decide on the details;

Let’s say you were a working mom and you decided to take 3-5 years off from your career. You wanted to raise your child and see them grow.   Now, the time has come to return to work.  Your baby is not a baby anymore, and you can manage your time better with daycare/school during work hours. This is a valid reason as long as you are clear and honest. Everyone knows that raising a child is important and a life-long commitment.  

Skills:

Since you’ve been out of the workforce for quite some time, you might want to catch up with the changes in your industry. Start following companies, update your skills with Lynda.com courses, and even attend some meetup events to network. The best way to start is definitely with the online courses. For instance, if you are in Marketing and would like to polish your skills on Facebook Marketing you can easily do it in a couple hours from these type of videos.

Volunteer:

One of the great ways to close the gap on your resume is to start volunteering. Being an active community member will help you network as well. This can even lead you to meet with the decision makers in certain industries and find a job. I will continue from the previous example. Let’s say, you were a marketing professional before your career gap and you would like to continue in the same field. Research some events in your area and contact the organizers. Offer your help in the organization of the event for free. This can be a meetup event or a big event like Marketo Summit. If you don’t try, you may miss out on a great opportunity.  

The way to market yourself:

Let’s say, you did all these steps but you still don’t know how to market yourself. When you introduce yourself at the events and activities, you don’t have a business card to give away because you are still searching for a job. So let me give you some good news! We are almost in 2018 and business cards are old school. They’re easy to lose them, and not an instant connection or communication tool. I highly recommend you to polish your LinkedIn profile and download the free LinkedIn app. If you don’t know how to polish your profile based on best practices, here is an article that I recently published that can give you a few insider secrets, as a LinkedIn employee myself: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/finding-job-difficult-until-i-did-9-tricks-giselle-sevgi/

Lead a Group:

Let’s say you couldn’t find a good meetup group to join or an interesting event to volunteer. Why not organize one and lead it yourself? The easy way that you can start is Eventbrite and Meetup.

They are free to use and in a couple of minutes, you can start a group. Here is a real-life example. I recently met an amazing business professional at an event that was organized by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. She mentioned that she is actively looking for a job but still couldn’t find one. While she is in search, she found out that she is learning a lot from the events that they join and the people she networks with.

She decided to help other people in San Francisco and opened a meetup group for job seekers. She organizes lots of events every month and helps many people in the city. There are more than 800 active people on her channel and through these events, she is building her network because she provides great value for the community. If you want to check it out, here is her Meetup group link 

Reach Local Chamber of Commerce

This is another way to be active and find a way to close your career gap. Local chamber of commerce’s arrange many events to help the community. In the city that I live in, SF chamber of commerce arranges events like this. Search your city’s local event calendar and do your best to be an active member.

Summary;

The most important part of the job search is definitely the morale. Whether you have a support system internally or not, you need to make sure that your inner voice is not negative. You shouldn’t put pressure on yourself since this is not a short process. Once you define your objectives and non negotiables , everything will move better and smoother.

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