What Does Your Email Address Communicate?


One of the most fundamental things you’re going to do when looking for work is create an email address. One day in the future the email address will become antiquated and out of fashion; replaced by something more effective. Today however, it’s still highly used by many employer’s as a way to receive applications and communicate with applicants. Many online applications and websites demand you have one to apply for jobs and without one, you can’t.

So with respect to your email, what does yours say about you? Consider that this is going to appear at the top of your résumé; it’s going to be on a cover letter, and it’s certainly going to be what someone in the organization you hope to work for clicks on or manually enters digit by digit when they contact you. So are they going to think about what it is and what it says to them? You’d best believe it.

One of the worst things you can do is choose to use an email that has your age in it; be it your age when you created it or the year of your birth. Yet time and time again when I’m asked to give my opinion on someone’s resume, there it is. I’ll often ask someone if they think it’s a good idea to put their age on a résumé and typically the answer most of the time is a confident, “no”. I’ll reply then, “So why did you tell them you’re 47? This usually startles the person and they ask me, “Where did I put that?” and I’ll point out their email which says, “billsmith47@…”

Also a poor idea is to include a number which could be your birthday or age even though it isn’t. Anyone reading it won’t know what that number means to you but they’ll certainly be entitled to make that assumption. So 47 might be Bill’s house number or he was born on the 7th of April, but that’s not what most people are going to infer.

Very common too are the emails suggested by the computer software when you try to use an email already claimed by another person. You’ve seen I’m sure the ones where some random numbers follow some combination of your name or what you were trying to use. Why anyone would choose to allow a random email generating program to choose their personal email is beyond me. Well, that’s not true really; I know people use them out of frustration, or they simply don’t know better. Still, this is a bad choice my friend.

Finally, stay away – please! – from the cute or sexy email names. Do you want to be thought of as juvenile, over sexed, or just plain inappropriate? My all-time favourite for ridiculous was someone with the email that began, “fluffybunnykins@…” Fluffy bunnykins? That apparently was the email created for a woman by her mom when the woman was 12 years old. While cute, it didn’t fit the professional image this grown woman was going for. In the same vein, avoid things like, “sexyxoxo@”, spankme@”, “loveme69@”. I didn’t invent these, and they’re taken already. Sometimes I just shake my head.”

Alright already, enough with what NOT to do! Let’s move on to one of two different strategies that I would recommend.

The first strategy is good if you know exactly what it is your after job or career-wise. I’ll use myself here as an example. I’m an Employment Counsellor by profession. Aside from my day job where my employer dictates my email address, I also provide employment counselling services and job search help in my personal time. So the email I have is, “employmentcounsellorkelly@gmail.com” This email address BRANDS me by profession and now the email serves a dual purpose. Sure it’s how people get in contact with me but it also brands me and what I do. So if you’re a committed PSW you could be, “pswbriansmith@…” or “brianpswsmith@…”. Some version of the name and the job title embedded together is what you’re after.

The second strategy I use more and more isn’t so much about branding yourself by profession. This then is good for the kind of person who is looking for work in more than one line of work. It would be hard to brand yourself as a Personal Support Worker like the above when you’re also open to a job as an Office Administrative professional. That, “pswbriansmith@…” would only work for one of the jobs you’re after and send the wrong message for any other types.

So what to do? Consider what you want the employer to do when they receive your résumé. What you’re after of course is a call or contact in some way from the person arranging interviews to set one up. So why not say what you want right in your email? Consider, “callbriansmith@…” or “contactbrianqsmith@…” Adding the words, “call” or “contact” to your email has the effect of making the reader actually say to themselves a version of “I should call Brian Smith”. This is exactly what you’re hoping for in submitting your résumé.

Now while there’s nothing wrong with some version of your name only, as in “brian.q.smith@…” it’s pretty plain and straight forward. Nothing wrong as I say, but it’s not really DOING anything for you is it?

Your email might be something you’ve just taken for granted and never really thought much about. Think about it now!

You May Never Get Hired


As my line of work brings me in daily contact with job seekers, I get to be a first-hand witness of how they behave. In addition to pure observation I also get into conversations; the deep meaningful ones and surface conversations, both of which where I do much more listening than talking. Over the course of many years, this has allowed me to have an informed opinion on what works and doesn’t work when job searching.

A word of caution about the list of behaviours and actions before we begin; you might find some of the things on this list fantastic, incredibly foolish, and laughable. Then, just as you can’t believe people would act so silly, you read something that you yourself are doing. If so, don’t be offended and defensive; even though becoming defensive is a normal reaction. If you do find your behaviours or actions in the list, it might be time to pause and reflect; possibly even consider making a change.

One of the most foolish things I see people do and do often is to apply for employment positions and then make it impossible for employers to get in contact. If you have a cell phone, make sure you’re able to receive calls. Initialize your phone, make sure you’ve got minutes available, even if it means diverting some money from the small pleasures in life at the moment to your phone. Check and clear your messages so you have room for more messages.

As far as the phone goes, if you’re using some form of an answering service, identify yourself. When that automated voice tells the caller, “Hello, you’ve reached, _______” don’t leave that space dead. Fill it in with your name and while you’re at it, sound upbeat and positive. Put a little life into your voicemail and in addition to identifying who you are, tell callers you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, and then follow through.

If you’re an Employment Counsellor or hold any number of other titles where you work with the unemployed, call those you’re helping and purposely ask them to let the phone ring without picking up. It could be you pick up a big clue yourself about why your job searcher is having problems getting interviews.

Body art is becoming more mainstream, acceptable and in some cases even desirable. There are some very highly skilled artisans out there doing highly detailed and tasteful work. However, there are even more people out there learning the trade of tattooing, and some really questionable tattoos being engraved. Think carefully about what you’re getting and where you’re getting it. I recall clearly and always will, the one guy who had the 4 letter curse word that begins with, “F” tattooed right on his forehead. I suppose 4 letters costs much less than getting, “Unemployed for life”.

Watch the words you use both when speaking and writing. Asking, “What is it youse guys do? You hiring?” sounds like you’re hanging out on a street corner with your best buds, not at a place of employment. “Youse” isn’t a word for starters and “guys” is way too informal. Instead try, “What is it your organization does?” Talk in the barest number of words like, “You hiring?” and you might come across as crude, abrupt, curt. Ask, “Are you accepting applications for employment at the present?” says the same thing but with a little more professionalism and shows your manners.

Most importantly, put some effort into your outfit. If you’re not sure what to wear to an interview or even to drop in to check a place out as a potential place to work, ask. Wearing your jeans low enough that 8″ of your underwear is showing, or your top is designed in such a way that the back of your bra is completely on display aren’t good ideas. Even thought you might not care what others think, employers do. Get over this idea that you’re  good to wear whatever you want and if others don’t like it that’s their problem. You want a job? That first impression people keep talking about is important. If you don’t get it now, you will; eventually.

While the list could go on and on, let’s end with the attitude thing. Employers don’t owe you anything – especially a living. If you’re mad at the world, life is hard and you’ve got a history of being let down and disappointed, you might have a case to feel the way you do. So be it. However, to think that this gives you the right to be rude or entitled to a job when you do nothing to prepare for an interview? Well, this just shows you’re not the right person for the job.

While job searching often means being rejected several, or even many times, it doesn’t make sense to tick off a potential employer who doesn’t even know you because of your poor attitude. Still, I see a lot of people with chips on their shoulders, who feel hard done by and who could otherwise be very employable. That their attitudes are negative and the behave poorly is a shame because they’re missing really good opportunities.

Look, if you want to work, take control of the things you can control. Behave and act like the person you’d like to hire. If you’re not having success, get some feedback and think about the advice you’re getting.

Discriminated Against For Being Older?


My job as an Employment Counsellor brings me into contact with a wide spectrum of people. Whenever I sit down with someone I invariably get around to asking them why they are unemployed; what they see as their barriers standing between them and working. One of the most common things I hear is, “My age might be a problem.”

The question of how old is too old comes up a lot. I’ve met some very active people in their 60’s who can outwork people half their age. By contrast I’ve seen some people in their early 40’s who move and behave like their 80.

I want to admit right upfront that there is a limited amount you can do to change the beliefs, attitude and yes prejudices of an interviewer or company that has determined what they regard as too old to hire. Having said that however, there is a lot you have 100% control over when it comes to the issue of age. It should come as no surprise that some of you reading this post will take my admission that there’s a limited amount you can do as justification for doing nothing. Others will gravitate to the positives; the proactive suggestions which can lead an interviewer or organization to reconsider their original position and extend an offer of employment to an older applicant.

First of all let’s look at what employers are concerned about with respect to aging workers. These may or may not apply to you, but as broad generalizations, some employers concerns with older workers are that they are:

  • set in their ways, resistant to learning new methods
  • education is dated, ongoing professional development poor
  • physical limitations, slowing down; a drain on health benefits
  • out of touch with technological advancements
  • close to retirement; a weak return as an investment

You may have others you could add to the list above. Please don’t get defensive as we’re just establishing some of the real opinions out there in the real world; whether they apply to you or me personally isn’t at issue. These are broad generalizations that are the realities one might be up against.

Okay, so now what? How does one go about countering the stereotypes of the ‘older’ generation of workers? A good place to start is with an honest look in the mirror. Not seeing what you want to see, but seeing yourself from another’s perspective; that of an employer. From the employer’s point of view, they’re looking for applicants that can join their organization and in as short a time as possible, start contributing.

Companies spend a lot of time building up their reputation. A small company just starting out needs to make money as soon as possible to stay afloat. They have no room to carry workers who don’t make immediate contributions to the bottom line. Larger organizations have already gone through growing pains and made adjustments to how they produce and deliver their services and goods. They need people to come in, assimilate into their workforce and not question how and why they do the things they do; just do the job you’re hired to do. Presuming you know better than the people who are in leadership roles and the existing workforce isn’t a way to stay employed long, unless of course you’re specifically recruited to bring about change.

Where it really starts of course is with you personally. Before you even apply for jobs, some changes might be well-advised. Your wardrobe might be dated; maybe you’re too formally dressed in that shirt, tie and suit jacket when the employees are dressed more casually. Look at your posture too. Are you walking stooped over, your shoulders slouched forward or shuffling your feet instead of walking upright with the energy and focus you had 15 years ago? In other words, if you don’t want to be judged as old, don’t come across as old.

Older workers have big upsides and you might need to remind yourself of this. You’ve got more than just work experience my friend, you’ve got life experience. You might just be the stabilizing force on a team of younger workers; the one who is more level-headed; not too high, not too low. You’re possibly in a place to mentor others while at the same time open to learning from those your junior. Be receptive to learning new ideas, embrace innovation and fight that stereotype of being an old dog who can’t learn new tricks.

A really good suggestion is an easy one; smile. Well, easier said than done for some, but a frowning, bitter face that scowls out at the world and comes across as negative isn’t attractive. Don’t project that the world owes you an income. View this new employer as your ally, your partner, not your enemy.

If you take a few courses and add these to your résumé you’ll be more attractive to employers too. Far too many people of all ages stop learning once they are working and have expired licences and certificates they didn’t bother renewing. Oh and because much of the general population is older, you might point out to an employer that their customer base might just appreciate being served by people who look like them; in other words, you’ll attract business.

Bottom line here? If you want to face the issue of being too old to work, don’t fit that stereotype yourself. Change what’s in your power to control.

Looking For Work?


Looking for a job or the next step in your career can be a stressful experience. While you may want a new position, you’re not at all looking forward to the résumé writing, online applications, rejections, flat-out being ignored altogether when you apply for a job you really want and then of course the interview process. The rejection and ups and downs of the job search thing is frustrating, nerve-wracking and for what? A low-paying job doing something you’ll dread, working for people who don’t care about you but only how much they can wring out of you before you quit or your fired?

It doesn’t have to be this way, nor should it. If this has been or is your experience, no wonder your desire to look for a new job is pretty weak. Let’s look at some ideas to keep motivated during this search.

First of all it’s a good idea – even if it seems completely obvious – to know why you want a new job. Are you burnt out in your current job, looking to put your recent education to use, looking for a part-time job to supplement your income or perhaps looking for a promotion? Knowing clearly why you want a new job is critical because in the moments when you feel frustrated and just want to chuck it in, you’ll want to remind yourself why you started looking in the first place.

A successful job search is planned out just like any meaningful project. Whether it’s building a house, running an ad campaign, raising funds for a charity or designing marketing materials, planning is critical. Too many people unfortunately start their job search randomly looking at employment websites. That shouldn’t be your first step.

After you’ve determined why you want a new job, assess what you’re starting with. Anyone starting a journey takes stock of their supplies and identifies both what they’ve got and what they’ll need to acquire. In the case of a job search, what are your assets? Examine your education, past and current experience including paid and volunteer work. Objectively take stock of your job-specific and transferable skills, your financial resources and the extent you’re willing to travel to work.

Now to decide what kind of work to actually pursue. Looking at that list of your assets, what jobs are you qualified for now? Do any of these jobs appeal to you? If so, great! If not, are you willing to invest time and money upgrading your education to acquire the academic qualifications you’ll need to compete for the kind of jobs you might really want? This could involve some research with local College or University Guidance Counsellors to help you out.

By the way, if you feel you’ve got time and youth on your side, don’t fret about finding the perfect job that checks off all your wants and desires. If you’re light on experience, there’s a lot of sense in doing a variety of jobs to help decide what brings you happiness; what you like and don’t like. A variety of jobs gives you perspective, might even appeal to an employer if you place yourself later as having broad first-hand experience. So if you can’t settle on THE job, relax and give yourself the green light to explore several jobs for say, the next 5 years.

Now what’s important to you? Are you after job satisfaction, money, a certain kind of environment to work in or a job that involves travel? What do you imagine is the kind of boss you’ll work best with? There are many factors that you should look at to find what’s important to you and if you need help doing this, get yourself connected with a local Employment Coach, Employment Counsellor or Career Specialist. These are the people who can best help you look at the factors that will ultimately bring you happiness in the work you do.

So with some job or career loosely or firmly in mind, turn to looking at the organizations that have these kind of positions. Taking the time to see how they differ from each other, what they rank and value, the atmosphere they create for those that work there is time well spent. You don’t want to find you love the job but loathe working in the atmosphere that surrounds it.

At this point you’ve got a career or job goal in mind that you’re skills and experience align with, and you’ve identified one or more companies that you’d like to be a part of. Now is the time to look at applying. Just because there are no current postings doesn’t mean there are no opportunities. Networking and initiating conversations with those who do what you want to do, work where you want to work and hire people like you is essential and often overlooked. Get known.

Once you’re connected, keep focused. Sure go ahead and ask about opportunities but do seek advice on what you could be doing in the here and now to strengthen your chances when a position is advertised. Positioning yourself to succeed shows them your keen and gives you momentum when otherwise you’d feel stalled.

Whether your 25, 45 or 60, take stock of what you’ve got, what you want and why you want it.

The steps above will take some time to transition through; varying for each person. Skip a step as unnecessary and you might be looking for some time.

Believe In Yourself, Then Get Going!


“It doesn’t matter if I believe in myself or not because that doesn’t change the fact that other people are holding me back, denying me my chances. Bitter? I’ve got every right to be. Unemployed, no job interview in years; at my age who’s going to hire me now? I haven’t got a hope. I might as well just pack it in and give up.”

The above pretty much is word for word what I was told by someone out-of-work recently. Examining what was said, breaking it down into pieces, here’s what I see as issues:

  • no personal accountability
  • self-perception as too old
  • loss of hope
  • bitter, frustrated attitude
  • lack of interview experience (perhaps fearful as a result)
  • unemployed

That’s a quick summation of what’s been expressed. I wonder as you read those words if you did so in your own voice or if you imagined another? Did you picture the speaker and if you did so, what did they look like? Have you pictured a woman or a man and how old did you create them in your mind? 64? 60? 58?

The above statement came from the mouth of a man of 51. His prevailing attitude is unfortunately his biggest problem because quite frankly he’s projecting a strong, negative image. An employer would find him a tremendous turnoff for he comes across as a cancerous virus, dumping his negatively on everyone he interacts with. He’s got a self-imposed scowl on his face, appears to look at people with smug disdain, and there’s no way he would be welcomed into a workforce for fear he’d infect those around him. Even though he’s of average height, he somehow appears to look down on those around him.

The irony is that he’s got job-ready skills and experience. The bitterness he’s carrying around with him however has left him with no patience for tailoring his résumé to each job. This he declares is an utter waste of his time. I didn’t point out that being unemployed time is one thing he has in abundance. Why go there and be provocative?

Now the one thing people know who have worked with me is that I’m not afraid to share with people my personal opinion when it comes to identifying their challenges. In other words, I’ll tell you what I believe you need to know and not only what you’d like to hear. It might be nice to hear only the things which you are doing well, but sometimes the most important information you can have shared with you are the things you might consider changing and/or improving upon.

After deciding upon what to share; the information the person needs to hear, the next challenge is deciding how to communicate that information. Sometimes a soft, gentle approach works best, lest you offend the person. Letting someone self-identify their challenges works well on occasion, or having the person tell you what others have suggested to get at what they’ve perhaps heard before. Ah but then there are times you decide that while this person before you is deserving of your respect, what they truly respect is blunt, raw, no holds barred, tell-it-like-it-is, is, in-your-face brutal honesty; “Your attitude sucks. You’re your own worst enemy. Stop using your age as your personal crucifix.” Take your pick.

When all is said and done two things really emerged; he’d stopped believing in himself and he wasn’t doing anything to help himself. Instead, he was engaging in self-destructive behaviour, threw up and fortified on a daily basis a defence that kept people away from him and limited himself in the process. To actually get the help he needs, he’d have to drop the façade, open himself up to trying and be receptive to intervention. Ironic then that before he could believe in himself, he chose to find someone he believed in and respected.

Getting some job interview experience is relatively easy. You start preparing by defining what a job interview actually is. You find the questions you’re likely to be asked, go over the format you’ll use to answer them, cover body language, first and last impressions etc. then have a go at a mock interview. Building on that, you ready targeted resumes with the help of someone who knows what they are doing. With better applications circulating, interviews are coming so get ready. So much for the easy stuff.

The more important and harder aspects of preparing for job interviews is what’s going on between the ears. You can improve your chances immensely simply by going in with a positive attitude which comes about when you actually DO believe in yourself. Look, no one owes you a job. Like most other people, you’ve got to prove you’ve got what the employer is looking for and needs, backed up with proof from your past. Are you going to face rejection? It’s highly likely so expect you’ll put in some effort that won’t produce the immediate results you want. Get over it. Don’t give up. Get going again. You owe it to yourself.

Job searching requires some mental fortitude. Believe in your ability to eventually succeed and get what you’re after. This must be your prevailing thought. Accentuate the positive and you’re not required to see the world through rose-coloured glasses.

If you have a hard time changing that attitude ask yourself honestly what it’s doing for you to keep it.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Status?


Not all those who are out of work are seeking it, nor are those who seek it similarly motivated to find it. It could be that you or someone you know are among the growing number who are either dissatisfied with their current job but content to keep it or unemployed and increasingly frustrated to the point you are no longer actively looking. In both cases, the growing numbers are unsettling.

There is a tragic irony at the moment when what employers’ look for most in those they hire are enthusiasm for the work to be performed, bringing a positive attitude to the workplace and self-investment. Where’s the irony? It exists in the growing numbers of workers who have for some time now grown increasingly bitter, discouraged and frustrated with the prevailing behaviours of employer’s generally, who treat their employees as expendable and interchangeable.

Ironic as that might be, there is a real cost to our society that is hard to measure quantitatively but is real just the same. Treat an employee with respect, give reason for them to believe that they can aspire to positions of greater responsibility and corresponding income and workforce engagement increases. With a more engaged workforce, individual workers commit more to what they produce, increasing their overall efficiency, resulting in turn in better products and services.

However, the opposite is also true. Treat an employee with a lack of respect, give them little reason or hope to think they will ever aspire to positions of greater responsibility and limit their financial empowerment, and they disengage from the workforce. Individual workers are less committed to their work, productivity drops as does the quality of the goods and services produced. Rare indeed is the employee who will continually invest fully of themselves and continue to invest at a high level when they don’t feel valued by their employer.

As for the unemployed, it is no surprise to find that when a person has little to no reason to feel encouraged and hopeful that they will find a job, they lose enthusiasm for the process. We might meet a person who is out of work and depending on the moment we find them see them heavily invested or entirely detached from seeking employment.

Whether a person is looking for a survival job or a job with meaning that they attach to it, how they experience the job search has a great deal with how fast or prolonged that job search will be. So the job seeker who finds themselves getting no replies at all to their applications – not even an acknowledgement that they’ve applied – this person will grow increasingly despondent. The person who gets acknowledged, and even better the odd interview and some meaningful feedback has reason to hope.

It is common for an unemployed person to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”, “What am I not doing?”. Without feedback, some go on making the same mistakes out of ignorance, then lose enthusiasm to even look or eventually stop looking altogether. The cost to the person then rises; gaps in resumes appear, smiles morph into faces of consternation, the optimistic turn doubtful, the experienced lose their relevance.

No wonder than that a number of employers openly question the quality of applicants that approach them for employment. Where did all the highly motivated, skilled workers with current work histories and best practices go? It is far too easy to lay all the blame at the door of all employers. Some in fact are exceptionally good at cultivating investment in the people they employ.

This problem of disengagement isn’t confined to the out-of-work only. There are many current workers who are holding on to jobs they once found challenging and satisfying who are now just putting in time. They are performing at levels just good enough to keep their jobs, but they mentally invest less and less and produce items and offer services with less investment. The result is that the employer becomes interested only as it affects their bottom line and addresses not the core of the problem but oft-times the symptoms.

So why do workers stay in jobs they no longer feel engaged performing? Primarily it comes back to the economy. It’s precarious to leave the known for the unknown; security of employment only to start new and fresh in the hopes of not just getting a job elsewhere but regaining things like seniority, similar benefits like the number of vacation weeks one’s earned. With so much competition out on the streets already, maybe it’s fear that keeps many from moving on. And of course, putting a résumé together, writing letters, going to interviews, being rejected, trying again and networking etc. just seems like so much more effort than what one’s doing at the present.

This isn’t a good recipe for finding the brightest and best. This is a recipe that could eventually with the right agitation lead to major changes by way of disruptive instigation brought about by necessity for change. More people growing anxious about finding employment; more finding it harder to feel acknowledged for their efforts as well as their results.

While respect for the job seeker isn’t the only answer, respect for people no matter their employment status and ensuring that work performed is meaningful and appreciated is a good start.

What’s your take on some of the thoughts I’ve raised here?

About This Gap On Your Resume


Have a gap on your résumé? If so, you might be feeling some anxiety heading into the job interview, dreading the moment when the interview peers across the table, looks you squarely in the eye and pleasantly says, “I’m interested to hear what you were doing that explains this gap in time on your résumé.”

So there it is, out in the open; that slap in the face moment when you feel trapped between wanting to tell the truth and knowing if you do your chances of getting this job are gone. There just doesn’t seem to be a good answer to your personal situation. Well, let’s see if we might come up with some helpful suggestions.

Before we get to the content or what you’ll actually say, I urge you to deliver this particular question with confidence. Interviewers you’re no doubt aware, are well-trained to observe people’s body language and facial expressions. Whenever you are telling an outright lie or exaggerating the truth greatly, a person’s body language gives them away.

It’s highly likely that because this question is one you are uncomfortable answering, you might naturally mimic the same body language as those that lie or greatly stretch the truth, and this you want to avoid at all costs. So do your very best to speak with confidence, look the interviewer in the face as you answer the question and squash any sheepishness in your delivery.

The second thing I’d like you to remember is that times have changed. In the past, anyone with a gap in their résumé stood out more. Individuals often worked at companies for decades and there was greater pressure on people to keep working while dealing with personal problems. Things have changed though; it is more common these days to have a gap as more people are experiencing lay-offs, plant restructurings, downsizing and people themselves are just more mobile than ever. Changing jobs is much more common. So it  isn’t necessarily the huge disaster you might think it is to have a gap on a résumé.

Okay so you need a good answer. The key here is to be truthful and at the same time feel good about the answer you deliver. Coming up with a good honest answer can dramatically change the entire interview largely in part because you won’t be waiting in a heightened nervous state for this question. This is going to have a positive impact on the rest of the interview as a result.

Now honestly, to best coach you through this question, I’d need to know – (and so would anyone you are consulting with for help) the real reason for the gap. Knowing the truth helps tremendously to tailor a response that is personal, believable and deliverable. So no matter who you are working with, open up, lay it out and then with the worst on the table, you can together build an answer that you can confidently deliver in the real world.

So, not knowing your specific reason for the gap, here are some common situations: time off to raise a child, previously fired and unable to mentally cope with the experience, marriage breakdown, significant death in the family, uncertainty over career direction. Now you might have one of the above or you might have something else like jail time, caring for an ill family member, recovering from surgery or a health scare or possibly you just stopped looking altogether due to some depression or frustration.

For a number of the answers above, something could have been simultaneously going on in your life; trying to figure out what your next career move would be. There is and always has been a number of people in most people’s lives who unknowingly cause us anxiety asking us constantly what it is we are going to be; what we are going to do with our lives. While we’re busy just trying to stay afloat and cope with things in our Life, we’re just not ready to plan out the road map of our next 30 years when everyone else seems to have their own master plans perfected.

Herein could be part of our answer to the gap period; time spent figuring out what steps to take re. career direction. Could we honestly say something like, “The period in question is time I took to check what it was I really wanted to do moving forward. Rather than take a short-term job which would have robbed me of the time to thoroughly research my next move, I pulled back and put my energy into assessing myself, including my interests, skills and experience. I found that what I really want to do is __________ and after further investigation this organization emerged as a good fit for me personally. This is the reason I sit before you today.”

If this works for you, I’m glad and feel free to extract what you can. You see, an answer like the one above might actually be some of what was really going on even though it’s not the only thing that was going on. You might well have had a personal issue to walk through, but there’s nothing that says you have to share 100% of all the reasons you have a gap on your résumé. Not unless you had to swear on a bible to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth at any rate!