Career gaps happen for many reasons. From unexpected redundancy, to parenthood, time out, health issues or a change in career direction… Many jump to the conclusion that a career gap will look bad on their CV, but that doesn’t have to be the case!
The world of work is changing and careers are shifting and transforming more than ever. No longer is someone expected to stay in the same job for their whole working life. Flexible working patterns, transferable skills and freelancing are more common than ever. It’s up to you to own your career gap, use it as a positive time for reflection or even change, then head back into the job market ready to sell yourself to potential employers.
Avoiding The Careers Gap Trap
For many, taking a careers gap is not in ‘the plan’. Whatever the reason for your careers gap, realise that you are in charge! As Antoine Tirard and Claire Harbour-Lyell write in their book Disrupt Your Career: How To Navigate Unchartered Career Transitions and Thrive, “The difficulty with transitions is that most people are not well prepared for them… Transitions are seen more as exceptions, and are mostly viewed as negative events.”
Let’s take a moment to rewrite the age-old stereotype that career gaps are bad:
CAREER GAPS ARE NOT BAD!
Career gaps are only bad if you don’t manage to navigate this new landscape in front of you and find your way through.
Making the Most of your Careers Gap
If your career gap was involuntary, why not make the most of this time? Whether that means travelling to a country you’ve always wanted to visit, doing some voluntary work, retraining or just dedicating time to hobbies. Turn it into an opportunity for positive growth and development, which will give you energy and something to talk about when you re-enter the job market.
Going Back to Work after a Careers Gap
Going back to work following a careers gap can be daunting. Here are our top five tips to make sure your return to work goes smoothly…
- Embrace change. Your careers gap happened for a reason. Perhaps it’s time to change direction and find a new role that will leave you motivated and excited by work? Consider the parts of your previous jobs you’ve enjoyed, or not enjoyed. Talk to a careers coach, or ask me to do your LAB Profile! Use your careers gap to find a more fulfilling career.
- Be curious. It may be a long time since you were last applying for jobs. The job market, the world of work and the language changes all the time so don’t be afraid to seek help and advice. Attend events in your sectors of interest to get inside the heads of potential employers. What are they talking about? What challenges are they facing? What language do they use? Being curious is a great weapon and will give you amazing insights that will advance your job search.
- Grow your mind (and your mindset). Have a look at your CV. What’s missing? Maybe it hasn’t been updated in a while! Are there skills or experience gaps that you could use your time to fill? Open your mind to change. Don’t think about ‘when I did this’ or ‘when I worked at’. That didn’t work then, so why would it now? Have a growth mindset, you’re never too old to learn!
- Tackle your career gap head on. When applying for new jobs, be up front about the reason for your careers gap! Employers are often put off by a gap on a CV but if you’ve already provided an explanation then you will overcome the first hurdle.
- Sell yourself (and your careers gap). How did you use your careers gap and what did it teach you? What did you learn about yourself and your motivations? People returning to work after a careers gap often have a clearer vision of where they’re going and what job they want to be doing, making you a strong candidate! Let the employer know.
If you’re facing a careers gap, look at it as a positive opportunity for change! It might be the push you need to go in a new career direction…
Struggling to find your ideal career? Get in touch with Katherine to discuss how the LAB Profile could help you to find a job that leaves you feeling motivated and excited about work. Yes, that’s really possible!