The world of work has changed thanks to the pandemic. People are re-assessing their priorities and taking an extended break from working. This resulting “employment gap” in resumes is becoming increasingly common.
Be it for months or years, there are many reasons people have a gap in their employment history. Along with common reasons such as parental leave, long service leave, sick Leave and retrenchment/redundancy, other reasons for a career break include:
- Care giving
- Personal circumstances / family reasons
- Career sabbatical
- A failed business
- Extended illness and recovery/recuperation
- Timing between contract work
- “Rest & Relax” – Mental health “Time Out” periods
And then, of course, there is the pandemic which has seen many of us in and out of employment.
Even though career breaks are becoming more commonplace, research from Linkedin shows that one in five hiring managers reject people who’ve had an extended period off work. Taking time off is still frowned upon and reducing the stigma still has a way to go. To address this stigma, LinkedIn recently introduced a new Career Break feature to enable professionals to showcase the skills and experience they gained from their time off to prospective employers.
When it comes to seeking employment again after a break, it can be challenging to present these “gaps” in your resume. Gaps on a resume are often seen as a ‘red flag’ to a prospective employer. Without explaining the gap, employers may assume the worst and pass over your application for someone with a more linear career history.
It’s not difficult for an employer to find out about the gap through a basic employment check, so the best approach is to explain it briefly in your resume, and not to ignore the elephant in the room!
How do you explain a gap in your resume?
- Be Honest
Don’t try and hide the fact that you have had time out from work in your resume. Just own it. Whether planned or unplanned, life happens and careers can be interrupted.
- Be Prepared
If you have taken a break, more than likely it will come up in your job interview. Explain why you had a break from employment and reassure the prospective employer you don’t intend to repeat this any time soon – this may just be their biggest fear!
- Find Value
No matter the reason, find value in your gap time and provide evidence you weren’t idle. If you were a beach bum or snow bunny for three months – just say that it was a once in a lifetime experience!
Read the job offer carefully and assess what the position is seeking, then examine the gap in your resume. Did you do any volunteering? Freelancing? Gain other technical or interpersonal skills? Find achievements that prove you have qualities the position is seeking and outline them to your potential employer.
Simply needing a break
Did your employment gap come from needing a mental health break?
LinkedIn found that among Australians who’ve taken a career break, 12 per cent attributed it to burnout, and Gen Z was “far more likely” to cite mental health as a reason for taking a break than Boomers (19 per cent compared to two per cent).
Potential employers will generally understand as long as you can prove you’re re-charged and good to go with gusto!
It’s becoming more and more acceptable to take a “rest and refresh” break. If you are looking at working in an organisation that respects work-life balance then they will appreciate your renewed motivation. Coming back after a mental health break may just make you a better employee in the long run.
The value found in taking a career break can be just as valuable as those found in employment, you just need to articulate it correctly. For employers, given the Great Candidate Drought this is certainly another untapped pool of talent in our midst.