10 Ways to Conquer The Resume Gap

By : Jennifer Boutell – Tacomamama.com, a locally-grown city guide

Returning to the workforce after a long absence? It’s not easy. Whether you’ve been a stay at home parent, were temporarily disabled, deployed, or experienced a long period of unemployment, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help move you out of the house and into your dream job.

  1. BE HONEST with potential employers. Don’t exaggerate or fabricate your work history. Remember, if you have to lie to get the job, it’s probably not going to be the one you want.
  2. BE HONEST with yourself. While you’ve been home or away, have your career ambitions changed? Ambivalence may be getting in your way. Take the time to discover your true passions and you’ll be more likely to find a job you want to keep.
  3. Don’t say too much, either. A simple “I took two years off after my daughter was born.” in your cover letter will do. Explain, but don’t go into too much detail. Save the details for the interview, if asked.
  4. Emphasize volunteer/unpaid work. Chances are, you’ve been doing something with your time. If you’ve been involved in community, nonprofit, or school organizations, list those projects in which you took a leadership role or made a substantial time commitment.
  5. Build your resume. Don’t have those volunteer experiences? Seek them out now while you have the time. Volunteering is a great way to try out new skills and add those months of experience employers are looking for. At the same time, make it clear to your volunteer supervisor that you are in need of and actively looking for paid work.
  6. Emphasize skills over work history. No matter how impressive your last job, its value on the job market will depreciate after a few years outside of the work force. Make sure your resume highlights your skill set and de-emphasizes dates.
  7. Think about who you know NOW. Those old references are still valuable, but supplement them with at least one or two recent additions. Be creative, think beyond paid work and consider contacts you may have made in your community. References who may know or be recognizable to the employer can be of great help.
  8. Don’t undersell yourself. It’s hard to get your confidence back and put yourself out there in the job market, but confidence is key in job hunting. Ask for what others in the position would make, don’t discount your abilities.
  9. Go out and appreciate your day life now. Treasure every second of your free time and you’ll feel and look less desperate when you talk to employers.
  10. Go back to work now. Don’t wait for someone to hire you. Get your wardrobe in order, get your resume, references, and other materials ready, and treat job-hunting like a job. Get used to the rhythm of the 9 to 5 day and the feel of your work environment, and walk into the interview like you already work there.

Resources:

Returning to Work After Maternity Leave – From the Mayo Clinic. Good advice for all stay at home moms returning to the workforce, whatever the age of their children.

Returning to Work: A Career Crossroads – Advice for parents returning to work, from About.com

Returning to the Workforce Following Military Duty – Advice from the Airforce Office of Special Investigations.

Returning to Work After Disability: What You Should Know – From TheBody.com.

Blogher.com: Business, Career, and Finance.

Working Mother Magazine

PeopleResources.org – Disability Job Bank

RecruitMilitary.com – Jobs for veterans.

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