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Mind The ‘Career’ Gap: How to Get a Job after a Gap

Mind The Career Gap
Mind the career gap
Summary. When you have a gap year or more in your CV, logically it is because you have a strong motive to do so. Unfortunately, even though corporations know this, it is evident that when you decide to get back to your career, you need to explain and justify the rationale behind your decisions, as human empathy cannot always be leveraged to grant you the new opportunity. You need to be willing to show growth, practical skills, tangible evidence, and a positive narrative if you want any chance to be considered for the role. Read our article on how to defy the career gap!

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In an article by the BBC titled ‘Are we done with the CV gap taboo?’, it was reported that in March 2022 post the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey of 23,000 global workers showed that 62% of employees said they had taken a break at some point in their professional career. Although it is evident that career gaps are common and might even increase in the future, currently they are still frowned upon by many industries. The issue being a career path is expected to be focused on one domain and be delivered in a traditional way through employment. The latter is perceived to be continuous in nature, where a gap is a nuisance that violates this fundamental understanding. Gaps, as per the terminology, implies a void blank time-period that should be filled in order to make sense and implies conventional productivity.

Even if you used your gap time enriching your family’s life, or nurturing your mental health, hiring managers will still look at someone taking a career break for mental-health reasons as demonstrating a lack of resilience, and at a caring parent as someone who might not be serious about their career. This happens despite the fact that 1.75 million UK employees have paused their careers due to caring responsibilities, 84% of them women. The truth is the only gap motive that is relatively acceptable is switching industries or turning freelance.


Insider perspective: Before we give you the do list for bridging your career gap, persuade interviewers of its worth, and come on top of the game, we share with you in this article the thoughts from a mother’s perspective as many take a gap year to be there for their families.

So why do we still fail to break out of the gap notion? The problem in the corporate world is that despite trying to break traditional judgemental stereotypes of career paths, the issue remains that all the soft skills and emotional intelligence you gained from your gap year would not cut it if you do not have the proof. Being a good person is all well for you, but most companies do not see immediate value added to them due to your revelation or employee happiness. There are no inferences in cause and effect in the corporate west. Everyone wants to see concrete work experience with clear dates and a corporate job title in one’s CV.

Until society gets over the gap, you need to put on your clever hat and outsmart the system. Here are few things you can do to handle the gap:


Get a certification

A tangible proof that you did something during the year that would directly add a skill in your CV and can be listed with a clear date. Go for technical skills that are very popular and trending in your industry at the time you are applying for a job. This can be a few weeks course in a top university, a diplomat from an online academy, or a few hours long LinkedIn course. Continuous learning is highly beneficial for you anyway, but the most important thing at this point is to get that certification. This shows that you never stopped learning, and it fills the timeline gap in your resume.


Use motivational terminology

Choose your language wisely when explaining the gap. Corporations want to hear that this was indeed an opportunity for growth, that despite the collapsed time, you gained something they can use immediately if they hire you. Stay away from negative expressions such as ‘I needed some time off’, ‘I wanted to take a break’, ‘ I was completely burnt-out’, ‘I couldn’t take it anymore’. Moreover, where appropriate, stay away from showing failure to deal with conflicts or quitting to escape difficult situations for example with your past manager. The truth is no matter how much companies champion mental health, no one wants to hear that you left because of a negative experience in your past role, so spin it off and phrase it well.


Show your interest in your industry

You need to show that your interest in your career within your respective industry has not faded. Show that  you are not just coming back to work just because you failed to do something else or that  your wallet needs to recover now that you are broke and your plans did not pay off.  You need to show you are interested in the industry and you are still relevant. Brush off your knowledge, read about trends and what was happening when you were away, use your network of friends and past colleagues to fill you in the latest and greatest. Show your problem-solving creativity in your industry’s recent challenges. To prepare for this,  you can leverage social media such as Linkedin to post original material on trending topics in your industry or related skills to your discipline.


Be honest and positive in your narrative

During interviews, you need to stay open and honest about why you took the gap year(s). Clearly explain the motives behind your decision, and if you met your objectives. Explain any challenges you encountered in this experience, and why you are now interested to go back to your career. Explain that you are not picking up from where you left off, but rather grown, learnt, and list the skills you can offer that meet the job description. Do not be taken off guard. Prepare your narrative in advance, practice it, and leverage storey telling to deliver your narrative. Show some human emotions as you deliver your story and remember optimism and positive energy are infectious and influential. Be concise in your messaging and show willingness to answer questions. Stay approachable and do not forget about body language communication to connect to the interviewers.


Identify your future plans

When interviewing, you need to be clear what the future holds for you. No one wants to hear that you are going to spend one month wasting their time only to take another gap time before they can get value out of you. Have a clear plan on how and for how long you want to do the new role and how does is your career path look like for the next few years. This shows commitment and respect. Corporations need to know they are the right place for you so you can both enjoy mutual benefits.

For more articles on career progression, check out the articles in our Career dedicated category.

Disclaimer: The content of all our articles is protected by the Terms & Conditions policy. For license of content, please reach out to us directly, our information are on the contact us page.

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