Mind the gap — résumé fixes and interview answers – Twin Cities

Amy Lindgren

Coming back to work after being out of the game for a while can be a daunting task. There’s an emotional side to the situation as well as a strategy question in terms of the marketplace and where you might fit in. And then there’s the simple logistics side: How are you going to deal with this gap in your résumé, and how will you talk about it in the interview?

In last week’s column we looked at steps for managing the mental aspect of the situation; now it’s time to consider your communication strategy for the job search itself.

Résumé strategies for an employment gap

First, know that however you amend your résumé, the result will always be a little like the comb-over hairstyle some men wore in the 1970s. Unless the gap is relatively small, it’s still going to show — just like that bald spot.

Staying with this metaphor, the first recommendation is to stay out of the swimming pool — the pool of online applicants, that is. Just like a dunk in the water wrecks a comb-over, nothing reveals an employment gap more quickly than an online application form. Relying more on networking and direct outreach to employers will let you sell your skill set without being blanked by an application algorithm.

Here are some résumé tips to try, ranging from simple to more complex.

Play with the dates. Deleting months can help hide small gaps, while tucking dates into the job entry instead of a column can keep the gaps from standing out.

Frontload skills sections. By dropping the work experience to the bottom of the page or even the next page, you can highlight marketable skills first.

Rename “Work Experience” to “Experience.” Making this change lets you include entries for volunteer, self-employment and other experiences that might not fit the “work” mold but which can be listed as “to present.” Just be careful to note which roles are volunteer, or other situations where your responsibilities would have been less intense than an actual job.

Use clusters. If you’ve had side gigs or temporary roles over a number of years, try clustering them together into a single, ongoing work experience.

Interview strategies for an employment gap

If you’re conducting your job search primarily through networking and direct contact with employers, you may have already explained your employment gap before landing an interview. In that case, you’ll be able to focus more on the outcomes of the gap, such as additional time you might need to ramp up on the job, or extra knowledge you’ll be bringing from courses you took while away from the workplace.

On the other hand, if you’re interviewing as part of a competitive process, or with committee members who aren’t familiar with you, you can expect questions about the gap. Typically: “It’s been ___ years since your last job. What have you been doing since then?” Or perhaps more directly, “Why haven’t you been working since___?”

These tips should help with your response.

Don’t over-explain. This kind of question can inspire blabbering, which leads to lengthy, overly-detailed expositions. Choose two or three points and form your answer around them. Then stop talking.

Try to understand why they’re asking. If you’re in a technical field, they may wonder if you’ve stayed up-to-date; in this case, mentioning classes you’ve been taking would help. On the other hand, their concern could be whether you’re serious about coming back — in which case, making that point specifically could be helpful.

Practice your answer. Since you can anticipate this interview question, it’s a good one to practice answering. Here’s an example: “When I left my last job six years ago, it was part of a larger plan to help my parents move into assisted living while letting me explore new paths. The COVID shutdowns extended my process, but also gave me time to feel more confirmed in my career path. I’m excited about getting back to work and learning this position with your company.”

Will it work? Of course — eventually. Since you can’t know how long this process will take, your best bet is to get started on your comeback trail. Once you begin testing the waters, you’ll know if you need to pour on more effort, tweak something about your process, or just be patient while pursuing your goal.

One thing you can be certain of is that you won’t be fresher on the market by letting more time pass. If you’re (mostly) ready now, jump in.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.