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Out of Work, but Not Out of Luck: How to Reenter the Workforce After an Employment Gap

People find themselves out of work for a variety of reasons: some by choice, others by circumstance. Regardless of the scenario, the thought of explaining a gap in employment when trying to reenter the workplace can be intimidating.

It’s a long-held belief that employers will cast aside applicants without a rock-solid work history, but a period of unemployment doesn’t have to be a blight on your resume. In fact, with a proper strategy, an employment gap can be positioned to your advantage.

Getting in the Doorcandidate has an interview with a hiring manager at a coffee shop.

The first problem many job seekers encounter when trying to rejoin the workforce is that they struggle to get a chance to explain inconsistencies in their work history. Many feel that companies will dismiss a candidate with a proven history of experience in light of an employment gap, but there are steps you can take to address this head-on before you ever speak to the hiring manager.

Resume Formatting

Earlier this year, we discussed tips for structuring an effective resume, and touched on some different resume formats. The most common of these is reverse chronological order, in which work experience is listed from most recent to earliest. When using this layout, it’s recommended to list a period of unemployment in your work history timeline as though it were a position you held. Here, you can note any personal or professional improvement efforts, including certifications completed, freelance/contract work, and volunteer experience.

Another option would be a skills-based resume format. This format, though less common, can help you highlight any of the soft-skills put into practice during your employment gap. With less emphasis on your years of experience and more emphasis on your skillset, skills-based resumes make it easier to showcase how your strengths can be transferred to the position to which you’re applying.

Regardless of the format you choose, it’s important that your employment gaps are acknowledged. A candidate who takes a direct approach is much more desirable to a potential employer than one who tries to camouflage any gaps on their resume.

Cover Lettersjob candidate hands hiring manager their resume.

We’ve talked about cover letters in the past, and how we feel they play a role in hiring decisions. They are not only a great way to market yourself, but also an excellent platform to provide the context surrounding your employment gap. By including a strong cover letter with your job application, you can showcase your unique qualifications and demonstrate your genuine interest in reentering the workforce.

Working with a Recruiter

There are a number of reasons that working with an external recruiting service, like us here at FrankCrum Staffing, can help you in your job search. Not only can we assist with both of the previously mentioned points, but we also have the benefit of working directly with talent acquisition teams. If your recruiter feels that you are well-suited for a position, they can present your candidacy to an employer directly. By bridging the gap between you and hiring managers, a recruiter can help ensure your resume is seen.

Nailing the Interview

Once you’ve landed an interview, you will have the opportunity to discuss your employment gap in more detail. Here are a few tips to ensure it is handled appropriately and professionally.

Be Honestpexels-sora-shimazaki-5668858

We’ve mentioned it already, but it bears repeating: honesty is the best policy. Refusing to acknowledge a period of unemployment can give off the impression that you’re being deceptive or untrustworthy. Rather than glossing over any inconsistencies in your work history, it is advised to address them directly, with confidence and composure.

Be Brief

While it’s important to address your employment gap, it’s also important to keep the explanation brief. Oversharing information can come across as inappropriate and unprofessional. Divulge what you’re comfortable discussing, highlight the accomplishments you acquired during your sabbatical, and reiterate how these skills bolster your qualifications for the position.

Be Confident

Remember that your time is valuable. No matter the reason you found yourself out of work, your time was inevitably spent in ways that helped you grow and change. In your interview, provide tangible examples of this to show the hiring manager why these experiences make you the right choice for the position.

FrankCrum Staffing is here to help you transition back into the workforce, regardless of your employment history. Click here to search our current job openings or to learn more about how we can help you on the next step of your career journey.


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