When you’ve been out of work for some time, one of your concerns is going to be that large gap on your résumé. And why is that a concern? Primarily because you know it’s going to be a concern for the people who are going to be mulling over hiring you versus those you’re competing with.
You should expect some questions which ask you to share what you’ve done with yourself during the present gap. Now there are many things you could say in reply, but one of the poorest things would be to shrug your shoulders and say, “Not much really.” That kind of response isn’t going to impress anyone, let alone someone considering hiring you. The thing is though, what if that’s the truth?
Well, you certainly can’t change what’s happened in the past; after all it’s called the past for a reason. You can however, do something in the present which will allow you to improve your answer in your future interviews. So rather than feeling bad about having not done much, feel better about choosing to do something now.
What can you do aside from get a job to fill in gaps on your résumé you ask? Excellent question and I’m so glad you asked!
Volunteer your time. Donating your time to support a cause can be immensely beneficial in a number of ways. For starters, yes you get to fill in the gap on your résumé with a new experience. From your first shift wherever it is you give of yourself, you’ll be establishing a relationship with someone in charge of supervising you and that person is your future reference possibly. But there’s more… You’ll feel good. Suddenly you have purpose again; you’ll feel appreciated and valued when you show up. You’ll also be practicing skills that may have otherwise started to rust, such as customer service if you work with the public, communication skills, teamwork skills and you’re going to find you enjoy being productive.
Upgrade your education. Whether it’s going back to finish your grade 12 or that one course that would complete your College Diploma or University Degree, now might be a great time to invest in yourself and complete what you started years ago. No, it’s not a waste of time, nor is it too expensive to consider doing while you’re out of work. It might just be a spark that changes your future and ignites some passion into your soul where you thought the fire had long been extinguished. You’ll have a reason to get up and get out, charge your little brain cells in ways that have been dormant, and you’ll finish off with a great sense of accomplishment. Day school or night school, full-time or part-time, online or in-class, there’s so many options!
Get healthy. I know! I know! Being out of work you’ve developed some unsavory habits and that lethargy has made you feel overly tired, the muscle tone you had once upon a time has disappeared and perhaps your weight has changed more or less; literally speaking. In short, you might not feel as good about your health or appearance as you used to. Okay, but again, stop beating yourself up about the choices you made in the past and resolve to make some better ones now. Go for walks and turn those walks into walks and short jogs. Turn those short jogs into longer ones or even a run or two. Eat better and healthier; don’t buy at the grocery store what you’ll feel bad about eating if it shows up in the pantry or fridge at home. See the Doctor and Dentist now and address the things which will help you ultimately feel better and present yourself better to others.
Pick up part-time work. Choosing to look for a part-time job and one outside your field doesn’t have to be an admission of failure. In fact, picking up a part-time job can have immense benefits. First of all it does fill the gap on the résumé with something. You can make the case to a future employer that you filled the gap with a job to stabilize your finances but you’re applying for whatever the job is you’re interviewing for because you want to get back into your field of training and experience. That part-time job will get you back into a routine gradually if you’re not up to a full-time job and being accountable every day.
Now the other thing you can do is some self-assessment. There’s free stuff online if you want to search personality assessments, Multiple Intelligences or Career Exploration. You can also enlist an Employment Coach or Counsellor, drop into a College or University Guidance office and get help with your career direction. If your issue is figuring out what to actually do in life, how are you going to do it going about it the way you’ve been going about it? Right! Time for a change in strategy.
Your cover letter when applying for work is a great place to explain the gap in your résumé. When you do get interviews, you already know that they must be understanding of your gap or you wouldn’t be invited in for the interview. This can increase your confidence in addressing what otherwise would be a frustrating and embarrassing question to answer.
Lots of options to consider and with 2019 days away, now is the time to act.